(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s)
April 3 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks to watch on Wednesday:
U.S. stock index futures were little changed as investors awaited the latest round of economic data and the S&P 500 edged even closer to an all-time intraday high.
S&P 500 futures were up 1.1 point, Dow Jones industrial average futures added 6 points and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.25 point.
** ZYNGA INC, Tuesday close $3.07, up 11 pct premarket
* GLU MOBILE INC, Tuesday close $2.605, up 6 pct premarket
** FACEBOOK, Tuesday close $25.42, up 1 pct premarket
The social gaming company will take the plunge into real-money gambling on Wednesday when it will begin offering poker and casino-style games in Britain in partnership with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment.
Mobile games maker Glu Mobile launched its first real-money mobile gambling game through UK mobile betting game designer and operator Probability Plc in March.
Zynga has also been developing Facebook-based versions of “ZyngaPlusPoker” and “ZyngaPlusCasino” - currently available on the Web and as desktop applications to British-based gamblers- which could tap into the social network’s vast pool of potential players, executives said during Zynga’s fourth quarter earnings call.
** MONSANTO CO, Tuesday close $104, up 1 pct premarket
The world’s largest seed company, raised its full-year profit expectations on Wednesday after posting a better-than-expected second quarter, driven largely by strength in its corn business.
** CONAGRA FOODS INC, Tuesday close $35.54, down 3 pct premarket
The maker of Chef Boyardee pastas and Hunt’s ketchup, reported a 57 percent decline in third-quarter profit, mainly due to costs related to its Ralcorp acquisition.
** OBAGI MEDICAL PRODUCTS INC, Tuesday close $22.88, up 9 pct premarket
** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL INC , Tuesday close $75.37
Valeant Pharmaceuticals raised its offer for cosmetics products maker Obagi Medical Products to $24 per share, a day after its initial bid was topped by German drugmaker Merz Pharma Group.
Canada’s Valeant said its latest offer, which values Obagi at about $418 million, has been approved by Obagi’s board.
** NEWFIELD EXPLORATION CO, Tuesday close $22.10, up 8 pct premarket
The oil and gas producer said it made its largest natural gas discovery ever in Block SK 310 area off the coast of Malaysia, where the company operates with 30 percent interest. Newfield estimated 1.5 trillion cubic feet to 3 trillion cubic feet of gas initially in place.
** MAGICJACK VOCALTEC LTD, Tuesday close $14.95, up 14 pct premarket
The company reported a fourth-quarter profit on strong sales of its devices to make and receive calls over the Internet, and said current-quarter adjusted profit will be higher compared to a year earlier.
** NOVAVAX INC, Tuesday close $2.35, up 11 pct premarket
The company said its vaccine to treat a virus that causes respiratory tract infections met the main goal, of immunizing women of childbearing age, in a mid-stage trial.
** VODAFONE GROUP PLC , Tuesday close $29.405, down 3 pct premarket
Verizon Communications Inc, responding to press reports, said it does not “currently have any intention” to merge with or buy its partner Vodafone Group, either alone or in conjunction with others.
Verizon’s response ruled out a full takeover, turning the focus yet again to whether the two telecom giants can do a deal over their Verizon Wireless joint venture.
** FRANCE TELECOM, Tuesday close $10.20, down 3 pct premarket
The U.S. listed shares of France Telecom were set to open lower after investment bank UBS downgraded the company’s stock to “sell” on worries that the French mobile market will weaken further this year under pressure from low-cost player Iliad .
“It’s too early to call the bottom of the French market. We expect 2013 to be even more painful with more price cuts, subsidies from Iliad, faster repricing, and more growth in discounted quad-play and SIM-only offers,” wrote analyst Nick Lyall in a note.
** CATERPILLAR INC, Tuesday close $84.88, down 1 pct premarket
Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the company’s stock to “neutral” from “buy”.
** XCEL ENERGY INC, Tuesday close $29.65, up 1 pct premarket
Goldman Sachs analysts upgraded the U.S. power company’s stock to “buy” from “neutral”, according to theflyonthewall.com.
** BEST BUY CO, Tuesday close $21.64, up 1 pct premarket
Janney Capital Markets raised its price target on the consumer electronics chain’s stock to $36 from $21, citing confidence in the management’s strategy and the company’s cost cuts. The brokerage also said the retailer will have a big opportunity to add to earnings by re-merchandising.
** ZOLTEK COS INC, Tuesday close $12.28, up 2 pct premarket
The carbon-fiber maker said late on Tuesday it was exploring strategic alternatives and had hired JP Morgan as its financial adviser.
Quinpario Partners LLC - Zoltek’s second-largest shareholder - last month sought the removal of the board and asked the company to consider strategic alternatives, but Zoltek had at that time said it was unwilling to engage with Quinpario.
** THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC INC, Tuesday close $78.56
** LIFE TECHNOLOGIES CORP, Tuesday close $65.75
Thermo Fisher is emerging as the lead contender in an auction for Life Technologies, a genetic testing maker with a market value of more than $11 billion, three people familiar with the matter said this week.
** ARES CAPITAL CORP, Tuesday close $18.03, down 3 pct premarket
The business development company said it would sell 16.7 million shares in an offering and use the proceeds to pay down some of its debt.
** GLOBAL PAYMENTS INC, Tuesday close $49.01, down 5 pct premarket
The payment processor posted a third-quarter profit below analysts’ expectations as its expenses grew and said it expects 2013 diluted earnings to include an estimated charge of $0.17 per share related to net intrusion remediation costs. Global Payments was hit by a security breach affecting about 1.5 million cardholders last March.
** GULF ISLAND FABRICATION INC, Tuesday close $21.49, down 5 percent premarket
The offshore drilling services provider said Chief Financial Officer Roy Breerwood resigned due to personal reasons. CEO Kirk Meche would serve as the interim CFO and treasurer.
** PENN VIRGINIA CORP, Wednesday close $3.90, up 4 pct after market
The oil and gas producer said it would buy assets in the oil-rich Eagle Ford shale field in Texas from bigger peer Magnum Hunter Resources Corp for about $400 million.
The deal includes 19,000 acres of both producing and undeveloped properties, taking Penn Virginia’s share in one of the hottest North American shale fields to 54,000 acres.
** SPECTRA ENERGY PARTNERS LP, Tuesday close $38.82, down 3 pct premarket
The natural gas transporter said on Tuesday that it would offer 4.5 million shares in an underwritten public offering and use the proceeds for capital expenditures and acquisitions.
** ATMEL CORP, Tuesday close $6.72, up 1 pct premarket
The touchscreen chipmaker raised its first-quarter revenue forecast to between $318 million and $328 million from its previous range of $311 million to $328 million.
“We see Atmel as the leading touch controller supplier into tablets and Win8 Ultrabooks, winning most of the touch designs in these devices so far, with wins in the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch, Google Nexus 10-inch, MS Surface RT, and roughly 30 other Win8 certified devices,” FBR analyst Christopher Rolland wrote in a note and upgraded the stock to “outperform” from “market perform.”
** TESLA MOTORS INC, Tuesday close $44.34
The producer of the first fully electric sports car on Tuesday said it was partnering with Wells Fargo & Co and U.S. Bank on a financing product that it says will make its pricey electric sedan accessible to more people.
** DELTA AIR LINES INC, Tuesday close $14.94, down 1 pct premarket
The airline on Tuesday curbed a closely watched growth forecast, saying federal budget cuts hurt demand for government travel and potential flyers resisted the company’s efforts to raise ticket prices. (Compiled by Pallavi Ail in Bangalore)