(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/nex49s) U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday amid caution ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting, and as investors brushed off weak housing data. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.01 percent at 16,132.62, the S&P 500 was down 0.08 percent at 1,839.3 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.34 percent at 4,258.422.
** SIGNET JEWELERS LTD, $92.6, +16.82 pct
** ZALE CORP, $20.89, +40.11 pct
Signet said it would buy smaller rival Zale for about $690 million in a deal that would strengthen its hold on the U.S. specialty jewelry sector and let it tap new markets.
The offer of $21 per share represents a premium of about 41 percent to Zale’s close on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The stock traded as low as $3.76 in April.
** CHELSEA THERAPEUTICS INTERNATIONAL LTD, $6.35, +28.28 pct
The company’s drug Northera, which treats a rare form of low blood pressure associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, has won U.S. approval, the Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.
** COLUMBIA SPORTSWEAR CO, $87.44, +11.15 pct
The outdoor sportswear maker forecast a 15-17 percent jump in full-year sales after reporting quarterly results that blew past analysts’ estimates. The company also raised its quarterly dividend to 28 cents per share from 25 cents.
At least three brokerages raised their price targets on the stock. Janney Capital Markets raised its fair value on the stock to $70 from $65, while Canaccord Genuity increased its price target to $75 from $71. D.A. Davidson raised its price target to $87 from $83.
The drugmaker said it received regulatory approval in Mexico for some of its oral and throat infection products.
Oculus said it would use the drug’s approval dossier in its marketing approval application to the European health regulators.
** AMERICAN SUPERCONDUCTOR CORP, $2.0799, +14.91 pct
The power technology company said a Chinese court ruled in its favor on jurisdiction of two software copyright infringement cases. The Supreme People’s Court ruled the cases will be heard as copyright infringement cases separate from commercial arbitration claims, the company said.
** SM ENERGY CO, $73.88, -17.53 pct
The oil and gas producer reported a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday due to a nearly 13 percent jump in operating costs.
The company earned $1.26 per share, excluding one-time items, below the average analyst estimate of $1.46, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
BMO Capital Markets and RBC Capital Markets cut their price targets on SM Energy’s stock, saying the company’s oilfields in the Eagleford shale had turned out to be gassier than expected.
** MEADOWBROOK INSURANCE GROUP INC, $5.86, -8.01 pct
The insurer reported a surprise operating loss of 30 cents per share for the fourth quarter as its net earned premium fell more than 25 percent to about $170 million. Analysts on average had expected earnings of 12 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** NABORS INDUSTRIES LTD, $20.631, +10.56 pct
The oilfield services and drilling company reported a jump in fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, and its chief executive, Tony Petrello said he sees “substantial, year-over year quarterly improvement” in results starting next quarter.
The company was also able to boost margins due to lower costs to move rigs and other items.
Nabors’s shares hit a near two-year high of $20.74 in early trading.
** GARMIN LTD, $51.2601, +8.67 pct
The navigation device maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by strong demand for aviation and fitness products. The company, which also forecast 2014 revenue above the average analyst estimate, has been looking to offset falling sales of its GPS devices that once dominated personal navigation.
** CHINA PETROLEUM & CHEMICAL CORP, $83.52, +8.44 pct
Sinopec Corp, formally known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, plans to restructure its retail and wholesale business and sell up to 30 percent of the unit as China’s government promotes private investment in the country’s oil industry.
** POTBELLY CORP, $20.0199, -10.62 pct
The sandwich chain on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ average estimate, hurt by a 0.7 percent decline in company-operated comparable store sales.
The company’s total revenue rose 1.7 percent to $74.8 million in the quarter ended Dec. 29. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $76.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** ASHFORD HOSPITALITY TRUST INC, $10.53, +8.78 pct
Robert W.Baird & Co upgraded the company’s stock to “outperform”, saying that Ashford should benefit from improved investor sentiment as the overhang from its Prime spin-off rolls off. Ashford spun off 80 percent ownership interest in an 8-hotel portfolio into a publicly listed company called Ashford Hospitality Prime Inc in June.
** ELI LILLY AND CO, $57.12, +3.38 pct
An experimental cancer drug developed by the drug maker, touted by some to be the company’s next blockbuster, significantly improved survival rates in lung cancer patients. Lilly needs new drugs to offset declining sales of its older drugs as they lose patent protection.
** CANADIAN NATURAL RESOURCES LTD, $37.16, +3.89 pct
** DEVON ENERGY CORP‘S, $65.32, +3.83 pct
Devon Energy said it would sell some liquids-rich natural gas assets in Canada to Canadian Natural Resources for about $2.8 billion and posted a better-than-expected profit as it ramps up production of more lucrative oil.
** CARLYLE GROUP LP, $36.64, +3.33 pct
The private equity firm reported a higher-than-expected 216 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings as the value of its funds jumped and the profits generated from the sales of assets soared.
** MATTRESS FIRM HOLDING CORP, $39.455, -4.37 pct
The specialty bedding retailer estimated fiscal 2013 earnings below analysts’ expectations on Tuesday, citing the weak U.S. consumer spending environment and the cold weather conditions in some of its primary markets.
The company said it expected adjusted earnings of $1.64-$1.66 per share for the year ended Jan. 28, down from $1.75-$1.83 it expected earlier.
Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.77 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** OCEAN RIG UDW INC, $17.75, +5.15 pct
Offshore drilling contractor Ocean Rig, majority owned by drybulk shipper DryShips Inc, reported a better-than-expected profit for the fourth quarter, helped by higher revenue from contracts and lower costs. (r.reuters.com/xuf96v)
** CF INDUSTRIES HOLDINGS INC, $240.62, +6.38 pct
The U.S. fertilizer producer posted a lower fourth-quarter profit, but the fall from record-high earnings a year earlier was not as steep as analysts had expected.
** GOGO INC, $20.93, +4.65 pct
Evercore Partners upgraded the digital entertainment and in-flight communication equipment maker’s stock to “overweight”, citing expectations of positive fourth-quarter results on growth at its business aviation unit and market share gains.
The brokerage, however, cut its price target to $26 from $27.
** TEREX CORP, $41.5, -5.55 pct
The construction equipment maker forecast 2014 results largely below analysts’ estimates.
** HEALTHSTREAM INC, $29.926, -4.27 pct
The company, which provides IT solutions to healthcare organizations, reported fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates, helped by higher subscriptions.
Healthstream also said consolidated revenues for 2014 would grow by 22-26 percent.
** ZEBRA TECHNOLOGIES CORP, $64.32, +13.36 pct
The printing device maker reported better-than-expected sales for the fourth quarter and forecast current-quarter sales way ahead of expectations.
The company said it recorded sales growth in all product and service categories in the fourth quarter and added that it sees an improved business pipeline.
** OMNICARE INC, $61.28, -5.05 pct
The pharmacy services provider reported a lower-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter and forecast full-year adjusted earnings below analysts’ estimates.
** DORMAN PRODUCTS INC, $56.945, +9.87 pct
The auto replacement parts supplier reported fourth-quarter results above analysts’ estimates due to strong vehicle demand in the United States.
** LITHIA MOTORS INC, $62.91, +6.65 pct
The U.S. auto dealer reported a fourth-quarter profit above the average analyst estimate due to higher revenue from stores open at least one year.
** SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORP, $40.44, +5.73 pct
The theme park operator reported better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by higher admissions, in-park, sponsorship and accommodation revenue.
** LUMBER LIQUIDATORS HOLDINGS INC, $102.6, +7.32 pct
The hardwood flooring retailer reported fourth-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by a 15.6 percent jump in comparable store net sales.
** GENESCO INC, $68.92, -4.48 pct
Goldman Sachs initiated coverage on the footwear retailer’s stock with a “sell” rating and a $63 price target and raised concerns about the company’s expansion into licensed sports apparel retail.
“While currently performing well with the benefits of consolidation and scale, this business is more competitively vulnerable than the rest of Genesco’s portfolio, in our view,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note to clients.
** LIGHTBRIDGE CORP, $3.0396, +5.91 pct
The nuclear fuel technology company’s stock continued to rally for the second day after it said that the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office approved a key patent. Lightbridge said on Tuesday it received approval for the patent in the United States and is awaiting approval in several European and Asian countries.
** UNITED STATES STEEL CORP, $24.97, -6.62 pct
** AK STEEL HOLDING CORP, $6.65, -2.92 pct
Shares of steel companies fell after U.S. trade authorities decided not to impose tariffs on South Korean imports that compete with their products.
In a preliminary decision dated Feb. 18, the Department of Commerce said it had found dumping of imports from India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam, but not from South Korea’s Hyundai Hysco and Nexteel Co.
U.S. producers were seeking anti-dumping duties as high as 158 percent on South Korea.
** SOLARCITY CORP, $76.117, -4.79 pct
Baird Equity Research analysts cut their rating on the U.S. solar installer’s stock to “neutral” from “outperform”, citing the company’s inability to turn profitable in the next few years. The analysts said they do not expect to see a near-term profit as the company will be spending aggressively on sales and marketing.
** NAVIOS MARITIME HOLDINGS INC, $9.09, -8.00 pct
The drybulk shipper posted a wider-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter due to higher vessel expenses and a slight fall in the number of revenue-generating days for its vessels under long-term charters.
** SPIRIT AIRLINES INC, Tuesday close $47.66, +6.53 pct premarket
The low-cost carrier reported a fourth-quarter profit above the average analyst estimate as it flew fuller planes.
** INNERWORKINGS INC, $7.86, +2.08 pct
The company, which procures and distributes printed materials and promotional products to companies, reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday.
** CBL & ASSOCIATES PROPERTIES INC, $18.17, +6.01 pct
Luxor Capital Group LP reported a 5.2 percent stake in the mall operator, a filing on Tuesday showed. (r.reuters.com/rah96v)
** PEABODY ENERGY CORP, $17.24, +3.67 pct
** JAMES RIVER COAL CO, $0.7745, +1.92 pct
** ARCH COAL INC, $4.235, +1.07 pct
** ALPHA NATURAL RESOURCES INC, $5.3, +3.72 pct
U.S. natural gas futures prices rose about 9 percent to $6.04 per million British thermal units on Wednesday morning, lifting coal stocks. Coal competes with natural gas for use in power production and higher gas prices are seen as a positive because they may encourage U.S. utilities to switch to cheaper coal to fuel power plants. (Compiled by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)