U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 set to close a fourth week of gains in five, ahead of key jobs market data and amid lingering tensions in Ukraine. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 0.56 percent at 16,507, S&P 500 futures were up 0.56 percent at 1,886.9 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.46 percent at 3,739.25.
** SKULLCANDY INC, Thursday close $7.43, +27.59 pct premarket
The headphones maker reported better-than-forecast fourth-quarter results on Thursday and said it expected net sales to grow in mid- to high-single digits in 2014.
Northland Securities raised its rating on the stock to “outperform” from “market perform”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** NOVATEL WIRELESS INC, Thursday close $2.85, -22.81 pct premarket
The company, which makes USB modems and wireless modem cards for PCs, on Thursday reported lower-than-expected revenue for the fourth quarter, hurt by fewer orders and contracts.
The company also forecast bigger-than-estimated loss for the current quarter.
** ALASKA COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS GROUP INC, Thursday close $2.55, -13.33 pct premarket
The telecommunications company said that wireless subscribers fell by 3,266 to 108,848 in the fourth quarter, and it forecast free cash flow of about $20 million this year, compared with $22 million last year.
** H&R BLOCK INC, Thursday close $30.96, -2.42 pct premarket
The U.S. tax preparer reported a 57 percent drop in third-quarter revenue, hurt by a 10-day delay to the start of the U.S. tax filing season. The delay caused the company to shift $277 million in revenue related to tax returns prepared but not filed, to the fourth quarter.
The company, which also reported a bigger-than-expected loss for the third quarter on Thursday, said it expects a majority of its revenue and all of its fiscal 2014 earnings to occur in the current quarter.
** GT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES INC, Thursday close $16.98, +7.13 pct premarket
Analysts at Credit Suisse upgraded the solar and LED equipment maker’s stock to “outperform” from “neutral” and raised their price target to $24 from $18, citing gains from improving polysilicon prices and the company’s agreement to make sapphire materials for Apple Inc’s electronics devices.
** BIG LOTS INC, Thursday close $29.25, +16.24 pct premarket
The close-out retailer reported a better-than-expected profit for the holiday quarter, sending its shares up as much as 13 percent in premarket trading.
** SAFEWAY INC, Thursday close $39.47, -2.94 pct premarket
The second-largest U.S. mainstream grocery store operator said private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management would acquire the company in a deal valued at about $9.4 billion.
** FOOT LOCKER INC, Thursday close $42.73, +5.10 pct premarket
The athletic footwear retailer reported fourth-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates, driven by a 5.3 percent rise in comparable-store sales.
** FIREEYE INC, Thursday close $89.55, -6.74 pct premarket
The network security company has priced the follow-on public offering of 14 million shares of its common stock at $82 per share, expecting to raise about $460 million.
** GAP INC, Thursday close $42.29
The apparel retailer, known for its Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy chains, reported a 7 percent decline in comparable sales in February, and said 450 of its stores were closed at some point or other in the month when ice, cold and snow kept many shoppers at home. Analysts had expected a 0.9 percent increase, according to Thomson Reuters data.
** ALPHA NATURAL RESOURCES INC, Thursday close $5.48, -1.64 pct premarket
Analysts at Goldman Sachs cut their rating on the coal miner’s stock to “sell” from “neutral”, citing “lackluster recovery” in prices of steelmaking coal, partly pressured by higher supply from Australia and a slowdown in demand from China, the largest producer and consumer of steel.
** TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD, Thursday close $4.14, +1.69 pct premarket
Miner Rio Tinto is planning to buy the remaining stake in Turquoise Hill for $8 per share, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter. (link.reuters.com/sav47v)
Rio Tinto owns 50.8 percent of Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill.
** GOGO INC, Thursday close $24.29, +4.36 pct premarket
SAC Capital Advisors, the investment manager founded by Steven A. Cohen, said on Thursday it has taken a 5.4 percent stake in Gogo, a provider of in-flight Wi-Fi service.
** SONY CORP, Thursday close $17.86
Sony said on Friday that it would book about a 10 billion yen ($97 million) profit in the next fiscal quarter on the sale of Tokyo property, as it disposes of assets under a turnaround effort.
** NOVARTIS AG, Thursday close $83.82, +0.27 pct premarket
Novartis drug Jakavi achieved its main goal in a late-stage trial for patients suffering from a rare blood cancer, putting it on track to become a potential blockbuster treatment with sales of $1 billion-plus.
** PFIZER INC, Thursday close $32.46, +0.43 pct premarket
The company said on Thursday it was recalling two lots of its Effexor XR antidepressant and another lot of its generic version of the drug after a pharmacist reported finding one capsule of a different medicine in a bottle of Effexor.
** TELECOM ITALIA, Thursday close $11.63
The company will not give holders of its ordinary shares a 2013 dividend so that it has more cash for much-needed network investment, it said on Friday, but Italy’s largest phone company did manage to hit its debt reduction target.
** SANGAMO BIOSCIENCES, Thursday close $22.96, +3.66 pct premarket
Treating HIV patients first with a chemotherapy drug improved their response to an experimental gene-modifying technique for controlling the virus, according to Sangamo BioSciences.
** FACEBOOK INC, Thursday close $70.84, +0.71 pct premarket
Privacy advocates have asked U.S. regulators to halt Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp until there is a clearer understanding of how the company intends to use the personal data of WhatsApp’s 450 million users.
** CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC, Thursday close $19.1
The iron ore producer said Casablanca Capital LP rejected an offer to settle a proxy fight, and the activist investor was seeking full control of the company’s board.
** WALT DISNEY, Thursday close $83.34
Walt Disney overhauled its struggling interactive division in a sweeping reorganization that will reduce the number of video games it develops and alter its advertising strategy to focus more on the fast-changing mobile market.
** EBAY INC, Thursday close $59.3
Activist investor Carl Icahn told eBay shareholders in a letter on Thursday he has “not yet begun to fight” to get the e-commerce company to spin off its PayPal payments unit.
** FORD MOTOR CO, Thursday close $15.67
Ford Motor Chief Executive Alan Mulally was awarded performance bonuses for 2013 worth $13.8 million, the No. 2 U.S. automaker disclosed to U.S. regulators on Thursday.
** COMTECH TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORP, Thursday close $32.59
The communications equipment maker on Thursday reported better-than-expected second-quarter revenue, helped by higher sales in its telecommunication transmission and RF microwave amplifiers businesses.
** VIOLIN MEMORY INC, Thursday close $4.42
The flash storage provider reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue on Thursday due to a 2 percent drop in product sales.
BofA Merrill Lynch cut its rating on the stock to “underperform” from “buy” on Friday, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** PROGRESS SPFTWARE CORP, Thursday close $25.38
The enterprise software maker on Thursday estimated first-quarter results below analysts’ average estimate, hurt by lower license sales as some deals did not close in the quarter.
** PIEDMONT NATURAL GAS CO INC, Thursday close $33.57
The natural gas distributor reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit on Thursday due to increased demand during extreme winter conditions. The company raised its full-year profit outlook to $1.80-$1.90 per share from $1.73-$1.83.
The company also lifted its quarterly dividend by 3.2 percent to 32 cents per share, payable on April 15 to shareholders on record as of March 25.
** KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL, Thursday close $25.83
The executive recruitment services company late on Thursday reported third-quarter results that beat analysts’ average estimates, and it forecast a fourth-quarter profit of 35-41 cents. Analysts on average were expecting fourth-quarter earnings of 37 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** EMERGENT BIOSOLUTIONS INC, Thursday close $25.57
The specialty pharmaceutical company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, helped by stronger sales of biodefense products.
Analysts at J.P. Morgan Securities raised their target price on the stock to $37 from $29. (Compiled By Neha Dimri in Bangalore; Edited by Maju Samuel)