March 26, 2013 / 4:18 PM / in 4 years

MARKET PULSE-Ziopharm, Green Dot, Aurico Gold, Gordmans Stores

(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/jyf86t)

March 26 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks on the move on Tuesday:

WALL STREET GAINS ON ECONOMY, S&P 500 RECORD STILL ELUDES

U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, putting the S&P 500 within striking distance of its all-time high, as strong data on home prices pointed to an economy that was improving, albeit slowly.

The benchmark S&P 500 index traded on Monday just a quarter point below its all-time closing high, then retreated as investors cashed in gains in the wake of news out of Europe. Its record close stands at 1,565.15, set Oct. 9, 2007.

** GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, $147.34, up 1 percent (0931 ET)

** BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC, $154,100 (0931 ET)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc will give Berkshire Hathaway millions of shares in the company in place of warrants that date to the financial crisis, a deal that saves Berkshire money upfront and reduces dilution risk for Goldman.

** ZIOPHARM ONCOLOGY INC, $1.90, down 62 percent (0932 ET)

The drugmaker said a late-stage trial of its cancer drug failed to meet the main goal of improving patients' survival without the cancer worsening, and the company decided to stop developing the treatment.

The stock, trading 8 times above its 10-day moving average, was one of the top percentage loser on the Nasdaq.

** AURICO GOLD, $6.28, down 5.4 pct (1023 ET)

Canadian miner AuRico Gold Inc posted a loss for the fourth quarter due to a non-cash goodwill impairment charge related to its El Chanate mine.

The net loss was $7.4 million, or $0.03 per share, compared to a profit of $77.9 million, or $0.31 per share. Revenue fell 59 percent to $63.1 million.

** RF MICRO DEVICES, $5.25 , up 7 percent (1115 ET)

Oppenheimer & Co upgraded the chipmaker's stock to "outperform" from "perform", saying the company appears to be well positioned to capitalize on expanding RF complexity with its "systems-level" approach.

** GREEN DOT CORP, $16.86, up 5 pct (0950 ET)

Brokerage SunTrust Robinson raised its target price on the prepaid card company's stock to $13 from $12, citing strong non-Walmart card activations. The brokerage said consumers have raised concerns about American Express Co's limited acceptance and POS card usage for a return to premium priced Green Dot products.

** GORDMANS STORES INC, $11.93, down 16 percent (1106 ET)

The discount retailer posted fourth-quarter sales that missed Wall Street expectations as its merchandise did not resonate well with shoppers and the company said it expects comparable sales in the current quarter to fall to low double digits.

Brokerage Piper Jaffray & Co downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "overweight", saying that current inventory levels seem higher than were previously anticipated and the gross margin weakness could continue in future quarters if consumer spending on apparel continues to be challenged.

The stock, trading 9 times above its 10-day moving average, was one of the top percentage loser on the Nasdaq.

** NETFLIX INC, $189.54, up 5 pct (1015 ET)

Brokerage Pacific Crest raised its price target on the video rental and streaming company's stock to $225 from $160, saying it sees strong international subscriber growth and margin expansion driving growth.

Netflix's rival Hulu is gauging potential buyers' interest as part of an internal strategic review, three sources close to Hulu told Reuters on Monday.

** LINKTONE LTD, $2.72, down 9 pct (1124 ET)

The company, which offers wireless content, reported a 31 percent drop in quarterly revenue as sales from media content fell.

The stock, trading nearly one-and-a-half times its average 10-day volume, was one of the top percentage losers on the Nasdaq at 1123 ET.

** MAXWELL TECHNOLOGIES INC, $5.06, down 9.1 pct (1147 ET)

The maker of energy storage devices said it received a delisting notice from Nasdaq on March 20, saying that Maxwell is in violation of the exchange's listing requirements as it is yet to file its annual report for the year ended December 31.

** BOYD GAMING CORP, $8.13, up 4 pct (0951 ET)

The casino operator's shares rose after competitor Revel filed for bankruptcy protection late on Monday under a plan that would turn over control to lenders and eliminate more than $1 billion of debt.

Revel, a lavish Atlantic City casino that opened less than a year ago, was expected to become the next Borgata, Boyd's top-grossing casino in Atlantic City.

** APOLLO GROUP INC, $17.50, down 4 pct (1116 ET)

BMO Capital Markets cut its price target on Apollo's stock to $27 from $30, saying it was wary of worsening enrollment trends as well as Apollo's backing away from prior comments that starts may turn positive in the second half of 2013.

The owner of the largest U.S. for-profit college on Monday reported its largest fall in enrollments in four quarters. Chief Executive Greg Cappelli also said he could not predict when new student sign-ups would rise again.

** BROADSOFT INC, $29.04, up 8 pct (1001 ET)

Raymond James raised its rating on the Internet communications company's stock to "market perform" from "underperform," saying the company could be a likely acquisition target for Oracle.

"BroadSoft fits the theme of what Oracle has acquired so far in that it is a software based solution and sells independently of large telco/network equipment vendor offerings," analyst Tavis McCourt wrote in a note.

Oracle said on Monday it will acquire Tekelec, a telecom network software provider -- its second acquisition in as many months in the Voice over IP infrastructure market.

** NUPATHE INC, $3.44, down 6 pct (0953 ET)

The company, which develops drugs for diseases of the central nervous system, said it has enough cash and cash equivalents to fund operations into the fourth quarter but will need additional capital to launch its first product, a battery-powered migraine patch.

The patch, Zecuity, is designed to provide relief from migraine-related headache and nausea, and was approved by U.S. health regulators on Jan. 17.

** SIBANYE GOLD LTD, $5.50, up 4 pct (1006 ET)

The South African gold mining firm said it has paid down 570 million rand ($61 million) of its debt from cash generated during the first quarter. HSBC initiated coverage of the stock with an "overweight" rating.

** CHILDREN'S PLACE RETAIL STORES INC, $44.60, down 2 percent (0933 ET)

The company, which sells apparel and accessories for newborns to 10-year-olds, forecast adjusted first-quarter profit below estimates, as unfavorable weather and weak macro-economic environment hurt consumer spending.

The company also said it expects negative high-single digit comparable retail sales in the current quarter.

** PEABODY ENERGY CORP, $21.10, up 1.5 percent (0934 ET)

Brokerage Raymond James raised its rating on the coal miner's stock to "outperform" from "market perform", with a price target of $25, citing a rise in natural gas prices, which will prompt utilities to switch to more economic coal to generate power.

** RAYTHEON CO, $57.31, up 1 percent (0935 ET)

The maker of the Patriot missile defense system and other weapons said on Monday it will pare its business units down to four starting on April 1 to boost productivity and lower costs, resulting in annual savings of about $85 million and the elimination of 200 jobs.

** BOEING CO, $85.94, up 1 percent (0936 ET)

The company's 787 Dreamliner took to the sky on Monday in a test flight aimed at showing that the plane's new lithium-ion battery system meets regulatory safety standards, a key step in ending a two-month, worldwide grounding of the high-tech jet.

** MONSANTO CO, $101.23, up 2 percent (0936 ET)

** DUPONT CO, $49.09 (0937 ET)

Monsanto and DuPont have settled a bitter legal battle over rights to technology for genetically modified seeds and will drop antitrust and patent lawsuits against each other in U.S. federal court, the companies said on Tuesday.

** ASSURANT INC, $43.43, down 1 percent (0938 ET)

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Housing Finance Agency is cracking down on "force-placed" insurance, which has hit millions of struggling borrowers with high-price homeowners' insurance policies arranged by banks that benefit from the costly coverage. (link.reuters.com/vat86t)

Last week, the insurer settled a New York probe of this little-known practice by agreeing to pay the state a $14 million penalty, refund some homeowner premiums and reform certain business practices.

** KKR & CO, $18.58, up 1.5 percent (0938 ET)

The U.S. buyouts firm agreed to sell Intelligence Holdings to Temp Holdings for 68 billion yen ($721 million), almost double what it initially paid for the temporary staffing agency three years ago.

** SONIC CORP, $12.50, up 6 percent (0939 ET)

The drive-in restaurant chain forecast full-year same-store sales in the low single-digit range after reporting flat comparable sales in the second quarter.

Lazard Capital Markets analyst Matthew DiFrisco raised his price target on the stock to $14 and maintained his "buy" rating, citing increased confidence in the company's full-year outlook.

** CALUMET SPECIALTY PRODUCTS LP, $37.32, down 5 percent (0939 ET)

The company, which makes lubricating oils, solvents and waxes, said it would offer 5.25 million shares in an underwritten public offering. Calumet said it intends to used the proceeds from the sale to fund its capital expenditures, acquisitions and other activities.

** APOLLO INVESTMENT CORP, $8.46, down 1 pct (0941 ET)

** MEDLEY CAPITAL CORP, $15.73, down 1.5 pct (0941 ET)

** TICC CAPITAL CORP, $9.95, down 1 pct (0941 ET)

** HORIZON TECHNOLOGY FINANCE CORP, $14.34, down 1 percent (0942 ET)

Wells Fargo downgraded the business development finance company sector to "market weight" from "overweight", citing risks in the credit market.

** TELECOM ITALIA $7.30, down 5 percent (0953 ET)

Shares of the telecommunications company fell as traders cited a downgrade from Merrill Lynch.

** NATIONAL OILWELL VARCO INC, $70.19, up 2.4 pct (1015 ET)

Brokerage Guggenheim upgraded the largest U.S. oilfield equipment provider's stock to "buy", saying concerns over its rig technology business are overblown.

National Oilwell in February said it expects margins to remain little changed this year in its largest business that helps prepare oil and gas wells for production as companies have slowed onshore exploration in North America on low natural gas prices.

** TELEFONICA,$13.81, down 2 pct (1023 ET)

** PORTUGAL TELECOM, $5.02, down 3 pct (1021 ET)

Spain's Telefonica raised 975 million euros ($1.26 billion) with an opportunistic sale of all of its treasury stock on Tuesday, taking advantage of a recent share price rally to raise cash and reduce its over 50 billion euros of debt.

Telefonica's operations in the Czech Republic, Ireland and central America are flagged as non-core by analysts, meaning the company could also dispose of them. Telefonica also has stakes in a number of other companies including bank BBVA and Portugal Telecom .

** KRATON PERFORMANCE POLYMERS INC, $24.61, down 1 pct (1104 ET)

Brokerage Oppenheimer downgraded the synthetic rubber maker's stock to "perform" from "outperform", citing lower prices for its raw material, butadiene, which indicates weak demand for synthetic rubber, especially in Asia.

"The less robust demand environment could stoke Asian competition, making it difficult for KRA to expand margin as much as previously planned," analysts said. (Compiled by Jochelle Mendonca)

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