Sept 18 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks to watch on Wednesday:
U.S. stock index futures edged slightly higher on Wednesday ahead of an announcement by the Federal Reserve on the future of its economic stimulus program. S&P 500 futures gained 1.4 points, Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 7 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 8.5 points.
** APPLE INC, Tuesday close $455.32, up 1 pct premarket
The fingerprint reader on Apple's top-end iPhone 5S received an early thumbs up for ease of use from two influential reviewers, helping dispel concerns about the scanning technology which has been notoriously unreliable in other cellphones.
** BLACKBERRY LTD , Tuesday close $10.55, up 1 pct premarket
BlackBerry launched its new Z30 flagship smartphone on Wednesday, as it battles to win back market share despite uncertainty around its future.
** COGNIZANT TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS CORP, Tuesday close $81.10, up 2 pct premarket
Brokerage Barclays Capital upgraded the IT services provider's stock to "overweight" from "equal weight" as it sees growth in the company's business in consulting and outsourcing in Europe. It also expects strong growth in its health care business. Barclays raised its price target on the company's stock to $97 from $80. Brokerage Evercore Partners also raised its price target late on Tuesday.
** FEDEX CORP, Tuesday close $110.68, up 2.2 pct premarket
FedEx posted a bigger quarterly profit as the courier company cut costs and its lower-priced ground shipping business did well.
** ADOBE SYSTEMS INC, Tuesday close $48.14, up 6 pct premarket
The company, known for its Photoshop and Acrobat software, expects subscriber growth to top the 331,000 it added in the third quarter due to strong demand from corporate customers.
** PULTEGROUP INC, Tuesday close $17.00
** KB HOME, Tuesday close $17.27
** D.R. HORTON INC, Tuesday close $19.95
** LENNAR CORP, Tuesday close $35.04
U.S. housing starts rose less than expected in August as multi-family activity slowed sharply, but a surge in permits to build single-family homes pointed to a sustained strengthening in the housing market recovery. (link.reuters.com/gyh24t)
** SANGAMO BIOSCIENCES INC, Tuesday close $10.58, up 3 pct premarket
The drugmaker said its common stock offering of 6.1 million shares is priced at $10.58 per share, the closing price of its stock on Tuesday, and which will fetch $65 million in gross proceeds.
** CRACKER BARREL OLD COUNTRY STORE INC, Tuesday close $107, down 3 pct premarket
The restaurant operator forecast current-quarter profit below analysts' estimates due to higher commodity costs and other expenses.
** ARUBA NETWORKS INC, Tuesday close $17.51, up 1.2 pct premarket
Brokerage Piper Jaffray on Tuesday initiated coverage on the network-equipment maker's stock with an "overweight" rating, saying the company was well-positioned to gain share within the wireless local area netowrk (WLAN) market.
"Aruba's broad portfolio of both controller and controller-less technology, coupled with leading software solutions, will translate to further share gains in 2014," analyst Troy Jensen said in a note. He set a price target of $26 on the stock.
** TOWER GROUP INTERNATIONAL LTD, Tuesday close $13.86, down 4 pct premarket
FBR cut its rating on the property and casualty insurer's stock to "market perform" from "outperform," saying that higher reserves in the second quarter could put the company in a weaker capital position.
** CHEMOCENTRYX INC, Tuesday close $6.42, down 2.5 pct premarket
Chemocentryx said that GlaxoSmithKline Plc returned the rights to its most advanced drug in development for inflammatory bowel disease.
** DOLLAR TREE INC, Tuesday close $55.83, up 3.5 pct after market
The value retailer on Tuesday announced a $2 billion share repurchase program. The company also said it had entered into agreements to repurchase $1 billion of its common shares under a variable maturity accelerated share repurchase program.
** FIVE BELOW INC, Tuesday close $48.5, down 2 pct after market
The specialty value retailer on Tuesday announced a secondary offering by its shareholders. The company said shareholders have agreed to sell 7.1 million shares of its common stock, of which 7 million shares would be sold by funds affiliated with Advent International and 100,000 shares will be sold by Five Below's executive chairman.
** NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE HOLDINGS INC, Tuesday close $55.03
Jefferies raised its rating on the residential mortgage servicer's stock to "buy" from "hold", saying that higher mortgage rates will lead to improved profitability and it expects "another round of bulk servicing sales" in late 2013 or early 2014. It also raised its target price on the stock to $64 from $40.
** AON PLC, Tuesday close $70.01, up 2.2 pct after market
Walgreen Co is moving 120,000 employees to the Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange as part of a growing movement to offer employees cash to purchase their own plans on such exchanges, the company will announce Wednesday.
** VANTIV INC, Tuesday close $27.25, up 1.1 pct after market
Evercore raised its price target on the payment processor's stock to $38 from $33 saying that it expects its net revenue in fiscal year 2015 to grow by 12 percent due to higher revenue per transaction.
** L&L ENERGY INC, Tuesday close $2.23
The U.S. coal miner with operations in China said it was looking for acquisition opportunities in Northern China to add at least 1 million tons of coal production every year.
** AT&T INC, Tuesday close $34.75
AT&T is planning to announce on Wednesday that it will expand its Latin American reach for business customers through a collaboration with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil. AT&T will be able to do business in 15 countries, including Argentina, Chile and Colombia, through connections with America Movil networks, according to a representative for AT&T.
** SMITHFIELD FOODS INC, Tuesday close $34.15
China's Shuanghui International is close to securing shareholder approval for its $4.7 billion offer for Smithfield Foods, which would be the biggest purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, ahead of the vote next week, three people familiar with the matter said.
** GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC , Tuesday close $51.13
A crackdown on corruption in China's pharmaceutical sector has hurt sales at international and local firms, with many doctors at Chinese hospitals refusing to see drug representatives for fear of being caught up in the widening scandal. Britain's GlaxoSmithKline, the group at the centre of the furore, has suffered the most. Industry insiders expect its China drug sales growth to slow sharply or even reverse in the third quarter after a 14 percent year-on-year rise in the three months to end-June.
** HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC, Tuesday close $85.45
U.S. regulators on Tuesday ordered airlines to inspect more than 3,800 planes to ensure that emergency locator beacons sold by Honeywell International do not have battery problems that could cause a fire.
** TESLA MOTORS INC, Tuesday close $166.23
Electric car company Tesla Motors is working to produce a car capable of running on "auto-pilot" within the next three years, CEO Elon Musk said, joining tech giant Google and rival carmakers in the race to roll a driverless car into the market.
** PANDORA MEDIA INC, Tuesday close $25.19
The Internet radio company has won a Manhattan federal court decision rejecting efforts by some music publishers to narrow a license that enables the largest U.S. Internet radio service to play their music. (Compiled by Varun Aggarwal)