Top 10 News for 8/19: Private Prisons Break as DOJ Takes Action; Buffett Boosts Apple Stake; Wal-mart Offers Bright Outlook

August 19, 2016 3:54 PM EDT

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1. Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN) shares popped higher mid-week following a report that the company had received a $30 billion acquisition proposal from Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO), according to a source claiming to have knowledge of the matter. Shares rose to the highest levels not seen since the end of 2015 amid the speculation.

2. MAA (NYSE: MAA) and Post Properties, Inc. (NYSE: PPS) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Post Properties, Inc. will merge with and into MAA, creating a Sunbelt-focused, publicly traded, multifamily REIT with enhanced capabilities to deliver superior value for residents, shareholders and employees. The combined company is expected to have a pro forma equity market capitalization of approximately $12 billion and a total market capitalization of approximately $17 billion.

3. GEO Group (NYSE: GEO) and Corrections Corp. (NYSE: CXW) shares were hit Thursday following news that the U.S. Department of Justice will move to phase-out the usage of private prisons. Shares recovered slightly on Friday after each company commented on the matter.

4. Wal-mart (NYSE: WMT) shares hit a new 52-week high this week after the company reported Q2 EPS of $1.07 with revenue of $120.9 billion, versus consensus estimates calling for EPS of $1.02 and revenue of $120.2 billion. The retailer also boosted its FY17 outlook, not seeing EPS of $4.15 - $4.35, versus prior guidance of $4.00 - $4.30 and the consensus of $4.27.

5. American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell its 100 percent interest in United Guaranty Corporation (UGC) to Arch Capital Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:A CGL), a Bermuda-based writer of specialty lines of property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, as well as mortgage insurance and reinsurance, on a worldwide basis. Total consideration for the transaction is $3.4 billion, consisting of $2.2 billion of cash, $250 million of newly issued Arch perpetual preferred stock, and $975 million of newly issued Arch convertible non-voting common-equivalent preferred stock.

6. Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) reported Q4 EPS of $0.63, $0.03 better than the analyst estimate of $0.60. Revenue for the quarter came in at $12.6 billion versus the consensus estimate of $12.57 billion. The company also announced plans to eliminate 5,500 positions.

7. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway filed a 13F for Q216 this week. In part, Buffett notably disclosed an increased stake in Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), moving his positione from 9,811,747 shares up to 15,227,702 shares. Apple shares did slip around 12 percent in the second quarter.

8. Hain Celestial Group (Nasdaq: HAIN) announced that it will delay the release of its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2016 financial results. During the fourth quarter, the Company identified concessions that were granted to certain distributors in the United States. The Company is currently evaluating whether the revenue associated with those concessions was accounted for in the correct period and is also currently evaluating its internal control over financial reporting.

9. Emerson (NYSE: EMR) announced it has signed an agreement to purchase the Valves & Controls business of Pentair (NYSE: PNR) for $3.15 billion. The complementary acquisition establishes Emerson's global presence in control, isolation, pressure relief valves and actuation as part of a larger strategy to build a broader automation portfolio.

10. Praxair (NYSE: PX) shares were active this week following news that the company and Linde AG were in preliminary talks about a potential merger. Both companies affirmed initial speculation. Linde noted that, These discussions are ongoing and have not resulted in any concrete results or agreements yet.

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