U.S. stocks dipped on Thursday, weighed by Exxon Mobil and retailers, as an earlier boost from upbeat labor market data lost steam. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 0.38 percent at 16,345, S&P 500 futures were up 0.03 percent at 1,833 and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.67 percent at 3,541.
** INTERCEPT PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $269.99, +272.97 pct
** CONATUS PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $9.3201, +49.36 pct
** GALECTIN THERAPEUTICS INC, $12.47, +47.23 pct
Intercept’s drug to treat liver disease caused by fat buildup was found effective in a trial, paving the way for it to become the first approved treatment for the chronic condition.
Shares of biotechnology company Galectin and Conatus, focused on the treatment of liver disease, also jumped on the news.
Aegis Capital Corp analyst Raghuram Selvaraju raised his price target on shares of Galectin by $6 to $16 to reflect the valuation impact of Intercept’s success.
** EXXON MOBIL CORP, $99.86, -0.87 pct
Citigroup cut its rating on the oil company’s stock to “neutral” to “buy.”
** GOOGLE INC, $1,129.41, -1.04 pct
India’s election regulator dropped plans on Thursday to partner the company on a project to ease voter access to information, after a backlash against the move from campaigners who fear Google and the U.S. government could use it for spying.
** T-MOBILE US, $33.03, -5.95 pct
** AT&T INC, $33.56, -1.99 pct
** VERIZON WIRELESS, $47.61, -1.84 pct
T-Mobile on Wednesday reported a fourth-quarter boost in customer growth and offered to pay customers to switch from rival services, escalating already intense competition in the U.S. wireless market.
The latest offer from T-Mobile targets customers with AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corp.
Some analysts have argued that T-Mobile is reducing its chance at being bought by Sprint because anti-trust regulators would be unlikely to approve a deal that eliminates the industry’s most aggressive competitor.
** ALCOA INC <AA.N >, $10.65, -1.66 pct
Alcoa and a joint venture it controls will pay $384 million to settle civil and criminal charges that the aluminum producer’s subsidiaries bribed officials in Bahrain, U.S. authorities said on Thursday.
Alcoa is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results after North American equity markets close on Thursday.
** SKYWEST INC,$13.92, -6.33 pct
Deutsche Bank downgraded the airline’s stock to “hold” from “buy” and cut its price target on the stock to $15 from $20, citing reduced earnings forecast for 2014 and 2015.
** SANGAMO BIOSCIENCES INC, $18.5799, +36.12 pct
** BIOGEN IDEC INC, $290.1, +0.03 pct
Sangamo said it would collaborate with Biogen to develop treatments for a group of inherited blood disorders. Biogen will pay Sangamo $20 million upfront, and use Sangamo’s gene-based technology to develop the drugs.
** YRC WORLDWIDE INC, $15.71, -15.81 pct
Shares of the struggling trucker fell as much as 24 percent on fears that the Teamsters union will reject the contract extension of about 26,000 workers, jeopardizing the company’s plans to restructure its debt. The company pushed back refinancing talks with the bankers by a day to Friday.
** TSAKOS ENERGY NAVIGATION LTD, $6.57, +4.29 pct
Analysts at Maxim Group started their coverage of the shipping company with a “buy” rating, citing its diverse fleet of 47 tankers, which allows the company to ferry a broad range of liquids. Analysts also said the company’s strong safety record and its trade relationships will help Tsakos Energy tap rising demand for transporting liquefied natural gas.
** CLEAN DIESEL TECHNOLOGIES INC, $2.35, +23.68 pct
The auto engine manufacturer is set to benefit from the need to retrofit older heavy duty diesel trucks and for distributors of new heavy duty diesel trucks to get new verified emission reduction systems, investment website Seeking Alpha said in an article on Thursday. Governments across the world are pushing for measures to curb environmental emissions. (r.reuters.com/xen85v)
** PIER 1 IMPORTS INC, $20.69, -11.28 pct
The furniture retailer cut its fourth-quarter profit forecast after saying December sales were below its expectation due to the cold weather. The company said December same-store sales fell 5.7 percent, before adjusting for the calendar shift. Same-store sales rose 8.2 percent a year earlier.
** AETERNA ZENTARIS INC, $1.1701, -19.86 pct
The biopharmaceutical company priced its public offering of 11 million units at $1.20 per unit, a discount of about 18 percent to the stock’s Wednesday close. Each unit consists of one common share and 0.8 warrant for one common share.
** EHEALTH INC, $58.02, +21.84 pct
Cowen and Co analysts said acceleration in fourth-quarter member growth at the private healthcare exchange was unprecedented and raised their price target on the company’s stock to $55 from $45.
Analyst Kevin Kopelman also raised his long-term profit estimates due to higher topline growth.
** FEDERAL-MOGUL CORP, $19.92, -13.28 pct
Goldman Sachs downgraded the auto parts supplier’s stock to “sell” from “neutral”, citing outsized valuation.
** MONTAGE TECHNOLOGY INC, $22.95, +17.09 pct
The China-based fabless chipmaker estimated fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ average expectation, helped by higher sales of its memory interface products and set-top box products at home and in emerging markets.
** MATERIAL SCIENCES CORP, $12.7416, +13.56 pct
The maker of acoustical products said on Thursday that it was being acquired by affiliates of New Star Metals Inc and Insight Equity Holding LLC for $12.75 per share, valued at $139 million.
The company also reported third-quarter revenue of $30.5 million, compared with $30.4 million a year earlier.
** EXFO INC $4.22, -12.08 pct
At least four brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock after the communications testing equipment maker reported a lower-than-expected first-quarter profit.
Exfo late on Wednesday reported a 6 percent drop in sales mainly due to lower demand in the United States.
Analysts at Pradigm Capital said they were more concerned by the rate and consistency (since 2011) of revenue decline.
** ACUITY BRANDS INC, $124.93, +13.54 pct
The lighting-fixture maker reported first-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by an increase in sales volume and improved margins.
** AMAG PHARMACEUTICALS INC $20.61, -13.95 pct
The company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is yet to enter into discussions regarding labeling or postmarketing requirements for the expanded use of its drug Feraheme, stoking fears that the approval may be delayed.
The FDA has set a review date of Jan. 21 for Feraheme, which is already approved to treat iron-deficiency anemia in adult patients with chronic kidney disease. Amag intends to expand its use to treat adult patients with iron-deficiency anemia who cannot tolerate oral iron.
** VOXX INTERNATIONAL CORP, $14.115, -16.92 pct
The audio equipment maker on Thursday cut its full-year revenue forecast, hurt by lower sales in its international markets.
** SIGNET JEWELERS LTD, $73.59, -7.63 pct
** ZALE CORP, $14.28, -13.51 pct
Signet estimated fourth-quarter earnings below analysts’ estimates as it expects additional discounting to result in lower-than-expected gross margins.
Rival Zale’s shares also fell on the news.
** UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS INC, $44.44, +8.34 pct
** AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC, $29.26, +6 pct
** SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO, $20.46, +1.39 pct
** DELTA AIR LINES INC, $31, +4.03 pct
Deutsche Bank said that a more rational airline industry not only meant improved financial returns and ample free cash flow, but excess cash to return to shareholders.
The note also said that they believe many of the positive industry trends observed in 2013 would continue into this year.
Deutsche Bank raised its target prices for United Continental and Delta.
** INTERMUNE INC, $16.61, +9.78 pct
The company said it expects revenue of about $25.6 million from its lung disease drug, Esbriet, in the fourth quarter, ahead of analysts’ estimates of $22.7 million.
Intermune also said it expects revenue of $115 million to $135 million from the drug in 2014. Analysts were expecting $132.1 million in revenue in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company said it expects to report data from a late-stage trial on the drug in the second quarter of 2014, after which it will seek marketing approval for the drug in the U.S.
Esbriet, the company’s sole revenue earner, is currently sold in the European Union and Canada.
** BED BATH & BEYOND INC, $69.79, -12.41 pct
The home furnishings retailer cut its full-year earnings forecast due to a lowered sales expectation and weakening margins.
** ARM HOLDINGS PLC, $49.34, -6.92 pct
Deutsche Bank analysts cut their rating on the chipmaker’s stock to “hold” from “buy,” citing increased competition from Intel Corp.
ARM Holdings could be hurt by Intel increasing its market share in tablet devices and could also announce more smartphone design wins at Mobile World Congress in late February, analysts led by Johannes Schaller said in the note.
** SEQUENOM INC, $2.63, +6.91 pct
The genetic tests maker said the European Patent Office on Jan. 1 granted a patent to its methods to detect chromosomal abnormality in a fetus using gene sequencing.
The patent is an important part of Sequenom’s prenatal diagnostic patent portfolio, with coverage across all countries in the European Union.
** CALIX INC, $8.31, -10.06 pct
The telecom equipment maker estimated fourth-quarter results that were way below analysts’ expectations due to a greater-than-expected decline in traditional year-end “budget flush” customer spending patterns than the company has historically experienced.
** GW PHARMACEUTICALS PLC, $45.8, +20.34 pct
The French drug agency has approved the U.K.-based company’s cannabis-based spray, Sativex, for people suffering from multiple sclerosis.
** FAMILY DOLLAR STORES INC, $64.7, -2.47 pct
The discount chain reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit and gave a tepid outlook for the current period after it discounted more than it had originally planned to win shoppers in the key holiday shopping season.
** MACY‘S INC, $55.93, +7.89 pct
The department store operator reported strong holiday season sales and gave a preliminary forecast for 2014 that suggests it would continue to outpace its rivals.
** BUFFALO WILD WINGS INC, $145.74, -3.80 pct
Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the quick-service restaurant chain’s stock to “underweight” from “overweight”, according to Theflyonthewall.com
** QIHOO 360 TECHNOLOGY CO LTD, $81.53, -8.39 pct
The Chinese Internet company denied on Thursday that e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd IPO-ALIB.N would take a stake in the company after its shares surged almost 10 percent on Wednesday on speculation the two were in talks.
** MCKESSON CORP, $175.28, +3.22 pct
The U.S. drugs wholesale group on Thursday lifted its offer for Celesio AG in a bid to win over hedge fund Elliott, a source familiar with the talks said.
** J.C. PENNEY CO INC, $7.7, +4.48 pct
Piper Jaffray upgraded its rating on the department store operator’s stock to “overweight” from “neutral,” according to Theflyonthewall.com.
J.C Penney shares slid 8 percent on Wednesday after the department store chain said it was “pleased” with its holiday sales performance, but skimped on specifics. The lack of detail in the Penney release fueled speculation that its turnaround is stalling.
** ZUMIEZ INC, $24.18, -7.64 pct
Janney Capital Markets cut its fair value on the sports retailer’s stock to $26 from $27 after the company lowered its fourth-quarter sales and adjusted earnings per share forecast.
The brokerage also cut its estimates for the retailer’s adjusted earnings per share for fiscal 2013, 2014 and 2015.
** DISH NETWORK CORP, $56.76, -2.07 pct
The satellite television company is terminating its bid for LightSquared Inc, the bankrupt telecom firm whose wireless spectrum Dish has been coveting, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
** GLOBAL PAYMENTS INC, $66.98, +3.99 pct
Analysts at multiple brokerages raised their price targets after the payment processor on Wednesday reported better-than-expected second-quarter results due to growth in its international business.
“Positive trends in Canada and Europe, solid and sustained margin performance, and a second consecutive quarterly beat for revenues and EPS are all positive indications the company is continuing to turn the corner,” analysts at Janney Capital Markets said.
** L BRANDS INC, $57.62, -4.27 pct
The parent of Victoria’s Secret cut its fourth-quarter earnings forecast as it expects promotions to hurt its merchandise margins.
** ENERNOC INC, $20.35, -3.33 pct
Analysts at J.P. Morgan Securities downgraded the power management company to “neutral” from “overweight”, based on valuation. The brokerage cited U.S. power grid operator PJM’s 2016 auction last May, which secured much lower prices than previous year’s auction. PJM operates the power grid in parts of 13 U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states, including New Jersey and Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
** FRONTLINE LTD, $4.92, +6.72 pct
The market for large crude oil tankers will likely be stronger in 2014 than the average 2013 level, the company’s Chief Executive Jens Martin Jensen said on Thursday. The company is one of the world’s biggest crude shippers.
** ALPHA NATURAL RESOURCES INC, $6.24, -4.29 pct
** WALTER ENERGY INC, $13.96, -4.25 pct
** TECK RESOURCES, $23.64, -2.96 pct
Cowen and Co analysts cut their ratings on the coal producers to “market perform” from “outperform”, saying ample global supply, new production, and muted demand will keep prices depressed for steel-making metallurgical coal.
** ALCATEL-LUCENT, $4.37, -5.21 pct
Deutsche Bank downgraded the telecom network equipment maker to “hold” from “buy” over concerns that gross profit margins will deteriorate this year as sales in lower-priced markets such as China account for more of the product mix.
** KONGZHONG CORP, $9.34, +2.41 pct
The Chinese mobile software maker on Monday released a self-developed mobile role-playing game, “Kooky Three Kingdoms”. It is a fantasy-themed game and includes numerous play options such as board game adventures, competitive battles and mercenary cultivation.
The stock was trading nearly three times its average 10-day volume.
** PACIRA PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $64.85, +7.85 pct
The specialty drugmaker estimated net revenue of about $30.5 million in the fourth quarter and $76.2 million in the full year from its pain drug Exparel.
Brean Capital analysts Jonathan Aschoff and Yi Cheng raised their target price on the company’s stock to $71 from $59, saying the company had preannounced Exparel sales that beat consensus estimates by over $5 million.
Compiled by Rohit T.K. in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila