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May 22 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks to watch on Wednesday:
U.S. stock index futures rose in thin trading ahead of highly anticipated Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the economy and monetary policy. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 3.4 points, the Dow Jones 18 points and the Nasdaq 100 7 points.
** SAKS INC, Tuesday close $12.28, up 18 pct premarket
The luxury department store chain hired Goldman Sachs to explore strategic alternatives, including a sale, the New York Post reported, citing a source briefed on the matter.
** ZALE CORP, Tuesday close $5.40, up 28 pct premarket
** SIGNET JEWELERS LTD, Tuesday close $71.62, down 0.24 pct premarket
Zale, which three years ago faced sharply declining sales and narrowly averted a cash shortage, reported that sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent in the third quarter. It also said the former chief executive of its biggest rival, Kay Jewelers parent Signet Jewelers, will be its new chairman.
** PFIZER INC, Tuesday close $28.78, up 2.5 pct premarket
Pfizer said on Wednesday it will spin off its majority stake in animal health business Zoetis Inc ZTS.N to shareholders by allowing them to swap Pfizer stock for Zoetis stock at a 7 percent discount.
** CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP, Tuesday close $20.85, up 2.4 pct premarket
Analysts at Susquehanna upgraded the oil and gas producer’s rating to “positive” from “neutral”, citing rising oil prices and increased natural gas liquids exports.
** SONY CORP, Tuesday close $22.91, down 2 pct premarket
Sony cut its sales targets for digital cameras, smartphones and tablets by 13-17 percent for the year to end-March 2015, but said there were “encouraging” signs of a revival in its electronics business.
** DYCOM INDUSTRIES INC, Tuesday close $20.41, up 22 pct premarket
The company, which provides engineering, construction and maintenance services, reported better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by a near 50 percent jump in contract revenue. It also forecast fourth-quarter results above analysts’ expectations.
** STAPLES INC, Tuesday close $14.75, down 4 pct premarket
The largest U.S. office supplies retailer’s quarterly sales and earnings missed analysts’ estimates, hurt by a stronger dollar and weak sales in Europe and Australia.
** TARGET CORP, Tuesday close $71.26, down 1.55 pct premarket
The company cut its full-year profit forecast while turning in a weak first quarter with disappointing sales, as a chilly start to spring kept shoppers from buying seasonal items like clothing.
(For graphic, click: link.reuters.com/haq38t)
** BEST BUY CO INC, Tuesday close $25.98, up 1.3 pct premarket
The world’s largest consumer electronics chain said it will maintain its regular quarterly cash dividend of 17 cents per share.
Best Buy reported lackluster sales for the first quarter on Tuesday and warned that efforts to entice shoppers could squeeze profits in the near term.
However, Jefferies & Co analyst Daniel Binder raised his price target on the stock to $31.00 from $30.00, saying the core thesis in the story remains intact as the company cuts costs sharply to reinvest in price, service and other aspects of the business, to drive revenue growth.
** NETAPP INC, Tuesday close $36.36, up 7 pct premarket
The data storage equipment maker, under pressure from activist shareholder Elliott Management, said it would spend about $1 billion in the next four months to buy back shares.
At least 11 brokerages raised their price targets on the company’s stock by up to $8.
“We have long questioned NetApp’s stingy capital allocation and expect investors to now cheer using some of its sizeable $4.7 billion net cash,” Evercore Partners said in a note.
** AMARIN CORP PLC, Tuesday close $6.98, up 5 pct premarket
The drugmaker said it received a notice of allowance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a patent covering its method to reduce triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, using its drug Vascepa in patients who are also using another class of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.
** AMAG PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Tuesday close $25.08, down 5 pct after market
The company said its marketing partner in Switzerland, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, is recalling a batch of Amag’s anemia drug, Rienso, because of a death and several cases of hypersensitivity.
** LLOYDS BANKING GROUP PLC, Tuesday close $3.73, up 1.6 pct premarket
The company said it would not need to issue new equity or specialist debt in order to meet capital demands set by Britain’s financial regulator.
** LOWE‘S COMPANIES INC, Tuesday close $42.45, down 4 pct premarket
The world’s No. 2 home improvement chain reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, hurt by colder-than-usual weather at the start of the spring selling season and strong competition from larger rival Home Depot Inc .
** TOLL BROTHERS INC, Tuesday close $36.01, up 3 pct premarket
The largest U.S. luxury homebuilder posted a 46 percent rise in quarterly profit as the company sold more homes at higher prices, indicating that the housing recovery is spreading across the industry.
** NPS PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Tuesday close $14.53, up 3 pct premarket
The biopharmaceutical company, which focuses on gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders, expects to raise $87.2 million by offering 6 million shares at $14.53 per share, the same price at which the stock closed on Tuesday.
** FREEPORT MCMORAN COPPER AND GOLD INC, Tuesday close $31.98, up 1.4 pct premarket
The company said it will not restart production at the world’s second-largest copper mine in Indonesia after a tunnel collapse that killed 28 workers until it is convinced of the mine’s safety.
** MERCK & CO INC, Tuesday close $47.33
Merck said it has entered into a $5 billion share repurchase agreement with Goldman Sachs Group Inc, as the drug giant looks to prop up shareholder value in face of stiff competition from makers of less-costly generics.
** APPLE INC, Tuesday close $439.66, up 0.15 pct premarket
The company’s Chief Executive Tim Cook made no apology on Tuesday for the iPad maker saving billions of dollars in U.S. taxes through Irish subsidiaries and told lawmakers that his company backs corporate tax reform, even though it may end up paying more.
** ANALOG DEVICES INC, Tuesday close $46.56, down 2 pct after market
The chipmaker reported second-quarter revenue that fell short of Wall Street estimates, and it forecast current-quarter results below expectations as customers remain cautious about spending.
** BOEING CO, Tuesday close $98.75, up 0.26 pct premarket
Boeing said on Wednesday that it plans to return about 80 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders through dividends and share buy-backs.
** AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS INC, Tuesday close $20.31, down 1 pct premarket
The company reported a decline in first-quarter sales as its young customers cut back on spending, and the teen retailer does not expect sales to pick up in the current quarter.
** CARNIVAL CORP, Tuesday close $33.81, down 3 pct premarket
HSBC downgraded its rating on the cruise operator’s stock to “neutral” from “overweight,” saying there’s too much uncertainty surrounding the company after it cut its full-year earnings-per-share outlook by 20 percent on lower yields and additional costs. “Persistent one-offs and poor guidance lead us to downgrade the stock,” the brokerage said in the note.
** ONCOLYTICS BIOTECH INC, Tuesday close $2.72, up 8 pct premarket
The company said preliminary results of a mid-stage trial testing its cancer drug Reolysin along with two other cancer drugs showed that the combination met the main goal of reducing the size of tumors in patients with metastic melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
** GILEAD SCIENCES INC, Tuesday close $56.47, up 2 pct premarket
The company said the European Medicines Agency validated and is now assessing the marketing approval application for its hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir. Gilead said the drug could be available in the European Union in the first half of 2014, if approved.
** CVR PARTNERS LP, Tuesday close $26.36
The nitrogen fertilizers maker said Coffeyville Resources LLC, a unit of CVR Energy Inc will sell 12 million CVR Partners units at $25.15 apiece, a near 5 percent discount to the stock’s Tuesday close.
** NOBLE ENERGY INC, Tuesday close $121.14
The oil and gas producer said it made a natural gas discovery at the Karish prospect in the Levant Basin, offshore Israel. The Houston-based company said it discovered gross resources in the range of 1.6 to 2.0 trillion cubic feet. (Compiled by Neha Alawadhi in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)