April 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq on track for a sixth straight day of gains as a number of bellwether companies reported strong results. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.67 percent at 16,558.91, the S&P 500 was up 0.66 percent at 1,884.3 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.12 percent at 4,167.685.
** MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP, $90.47, +0.37 pct
Analysts at Howard Weil removed the refining company from its focus list, saying that the price differential between WTI crude and Brent crude would remain narrow in the second quarter. The narrowing spread could hurt margins for Midwest refiners, such as Marathon Petroleum, which refine cheap U.S. crude into gasoline, diesel and other products to be sold at prices linked to the more expensive Brent. Brent’s premium over WTI CL-LCO1=R has averaged $8.56 so far this year, lower than last year’s average spread of $10.57.
** MODINE MANUFACTURING CO, $15.9, +9.96 pct
Robert W. Baird upgraded the company’ stock to “outperform” from “neutral,” theflyonthewall.com reported.
** TIME WARNER CABLE, $139.99, +2.48 pct
** COMCAST CORP, $51.37, +2.99 pct
Comcast posted higher first-quarter revenue and net income on Tuesday as the largest U.S. cable operator gained video subscribers for the second quarter in a row.
There was “no internal timeline” for the Time Warner Cable divestiture, and the company could pursue a number of structures for divestitures in order to maximize tax efficiency, Comcast Chief Finacial Officer Michael Angelakis said on a conference call with analysts.
** PENTAIR LTD, $75.64, -6.01 pct
The company, which makes water treatment systems and thermal controls, reported lower-than-expected revenue for the first-quarter, hurt by a 9 percent decline in sales from its larger valves and controls business.
Pentair also gave a lower-than-expected revenue and profit forecast for second quarter.
** LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP, $79.78, +5.35 pct
** MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL,$25.04, +4.86 pct
** WYNN RESORTS LTD, $215.65, +5.48 pct
** CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT CORP, $18.55, +2.60 pct
Shares of the casino operators were up on Tuesday as Macau gambling revenue rebounded during the third week of April from a slowdown during the first two weeks, Chad Beynon from Macquarie Research told Reuters.
For the week ending April 21, average daily run rate in Macau improved to MOP 1.15 billion, up 15 percent from last week, Wells Fargo wrote in a note.
“Based on trends through April 21, we estimate April Macau gaming revenue growth continues to trend between 7-10 percent vs our prior forecast of 5-10 percent,” Wells Fargo analyst Cameron McKnight said.
** WASTE CONNECTIONS INC, $44.25, +3.68 pct
The provider of solid waste collection and disposal services reported better-than-expected first-quarter results, helped by an increase in revenue from its larger solid waste collection business.
** FIREEYE INC, $50.81, +5.55 pct
The network security company filed for a secondary offering of 13.3 million shares at a proposed maximum price of $47.65 each. FireEye said it will not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of the shares being offered by its selling stockholder. (r.reuters.com/zut68v)
** ASTEC INDUSTRIES INC, $40.17, -7.51 pct
The specialized equipment maker reported lower-than-expected first-quarter results, hurt by a 9.6 percent fall in revenue from its larger road building and related equipment business.
** ZIONS BANCORP, $29.6, -2.08 pct
The lender reported earnings per share of 41 cents, missing analysts’ average estimate of 42 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net interest income dropped 3.6 percent to $416.5 million from the quarter ended Dec. 31.
Brokerage Jefferies & Co cut the bank’s price target to $27 from $29, citing weak loan growth.
** REVANCE THERAPEUTICS INC, $34.44, +20.34 pct
The company said on Monday an experimental long-lasting form of botulinum toxin - the same compound used in Allergan Inc’s Botox - met the main goal of reducing wrinkles in patients in an early stage trial.
Cowen & Co analysts estimated the product could eventually generate $1 billion in sales.
** ALLERGAN INC, $164.76, +16.03 pct
** VALEANT PHARMA, $135.98, +7.91 pct
Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals said it offered to buy Botox maker Allergan to boost its skin and eye-care portfolio. Valeant said it had offered to pay $48.30 per share in cash and 0.83 of its common share for each Allergan share.
** AROTECH CORP, $3.7501, -15.92 pct
The defense and security products company would not benefit from a lithium-ion battery factory being set up by Tesla Motors Inc as it did not make electric batteries for cars, according to a Seeking Alpha article.
The company was not planning to enter the electric vehicle market, the article said quoting Arotech Chief Executive Robert Ehrlich. (r.reuters.com/pyv68v)
** CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS INC, $14.75, +1.91 pct
The company, which makes software for designing integrated circuits and electronics systems, forecast second-quarter profit of 19-21 cents per share, below analysts’ estimates of 23 cents.
Cadence forecast full-year profit of $0.92-$1.02 per share on revenue of $1.55-$1.59 billion, in-line with expectations of a profit of $0.97 per share on revenue of $1.57 billion.
The company also agreed to acquire Jasper Design Automation Inc, a maker of software used to verify chip designs, for $170 million.
** HELIX ENERGY SOLUTIONS GROUP INC, $23.09, +1.67 pct
The offshore energy company reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit on Monday due to a rise in revenue at the company’s well intervention business - the company’s biggest. Helix also gained from the sale of a shore-based pipe laying facility for offshore oil and gas production.
** AMBAC FINANCIAL GROUP INC, $31.68, +11.20 pct
The bond insurer said a court-appointed official had filed an amendment to its rehabilitation plan which would see an increase in the cash amount percentage to policy holders under the segregated account. Ambac had reached a settlement with its Wisconsin regulator in 2011 as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan, which had averted a liquidation for the company.
Under the restructuring agreement, many of Ambac Assurance's risky mortgage obligations were moved into a segregated account. (link.reuters.com/kew68v)
** BITAUTO HOLDINGS LTD, $38.53, +8.81 pct
The company said it entered into a joint venture agreement with used car electronic auction service provider Youxin Internet (Beijing) Information and auto dealership group Pangda Automobile Trade. Bitauto said the JV will bring more used car listings to its website taoche.com and expand its inventory of available-for-sale used cars.
** QEP RESOURCES INC, $31.66, -2.04 pct
Analysts at Barclays Capital downgraded the oil producer to “equal weight” from “overweight,” citing negative revisions in production forecast by QEP earlier this year. They also believe the oil producer’s assets offer limited high-return drilling opportunities. They cut the price target on the company’s stock to $31 from $36.
** PLX TECHNOLOGY INC, $6.29, +8.26 pct
The chipmaker, whose products are used in digital TVs and video surveillance equipment, on Monday reported a better-than-expected first-quarter adjusted profit due to lower costs, prompting brokerage Roth Capital Partners to raise its price target to $8 from $7 on the company’s stock.
** ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS INC, $38.82, -3.43 pct
The Canadian cable, telecommunications and media company reported a 13 percent drop in its first-quarter profit late on Monday, as a move to more customer-friendly pricing led to a slip in earnings at its major wireless phone arm.
** CUSTOMERS BANCORP INC, $22.65, -2.71 pct
The lender’s earnings for the quarter ended March 31 dropped to 32 cents per share from 38 cents as it set aside $4.4 million to cover bad loans, compared to a reversal of $100,000 set aside for loan losses a year earlier. The company reported net interest income of $29.5 million, missing analysts’ average estimate of $32.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Brokerage Sandler O‘Neill & Partners cut the bank’s rating to “hold” from “buy,” saying first-quarter earnings were volatile.
** CENTENE CORP, $64.34, +12.31 pct
The health insurer reported a quarterly profit and revenue well above Wall Street estimates, and raised its 2014 outlook, on Tuesday.
** HOME DEPOT INC, $79.905, +2.49 pct
BMO Capital Markets upgraded its rating on the world’s largest home improvement chain’s stock to “outperform” from “market perform,” saying it believes Home Depot can deliver mid-teens earnings per share growth, helped by “transformational” changes in the company’s supply chain, store operations and merchandising.
** RUCKUS WIRELESS INC, $10.98, +5.88 pct
Brokerage Piper Jaffray & Co assumed coverage on the WiFi products maker’s stock with an “overweight” rating and a target price of $14, saying the company’s shares were trading below their growth prospects.
“Ruckus has a solid track record of topline revenue growth, technology leadership, good competitive win rate and we believe the company will continue to report solid results well into the future,” Piper Jaffray analyst Troy Jensen wrote in a note to clients.
** CELANESE CORP, $60.45, +4.01 pct
The chemical manufacturer reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit on Monday due to a rise in revenue from the company’s advanced engineered materials business and consumer specialties business.
** FIRSTMERIT CORP INC, $19.37, -3.42 pct
The lender reported earnings per share of 31 cents per share for the quarter ended March 31, missing analysts’ average estimate of 36 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Cash set aside to cover bad loans rose 46 percent to $14.5 million over the prior year.
** AK STEEL HOLDING CORP, $6.54, -2.53 pct
The U.S. steelmaker reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss partly hurt by higher operating costs and lower shipments.
** ARCH COAL INC, $4.505, -9.36 pct
The U.S. coal miner said it expects to ship fewer tons of steel-making metallurgical coal this year as prices and demand remain weak, but signaled recovering demand for thermal coal, used in power generation.
** NETFLIX INC, $365.44, +4.86 pct
The video streaming service’s planned price hikes will allow it to spend more to produce more original content that will help it attract more customers globally, analysts said, as many of them raised their price targets on the stock.
While Cantor Fitzgerald upgraded the stock to “buy,” several other brokerages raised their price targets after Netflix posted better-than-expected first-quarter profit.
** GW PHARMACEUTICALS PLC, $62.27, +35.25 pct
Morgan Stanley initiated coverage on the biopharmaceutical company with an “overweight” rating, citing the potential of its epilepsy program. The brokerage said it expects about 800 million pounds peak worldwide sales for the company’s experimental epilepsy drug Epidiolex by 2024. It set a price target of $103 on the GW Pharma stock.
** MEDIDATA SOLUTIONS INC, $38.4, -27.12 pct
The provider of cloud-based services for clinical research companies reported a quarterly adjusted profit that was lower than analysts’ estimates.
** FACEBOOK INC, $63.09, +3.02 pct
Credit Suisse upgraded the social media company’s stock to “outperform” from “neutral” and raised its price target to $87 from $6. The brokerage said it expects new products to drive faster growth in revenue per user.
** LEXMARK INTERNATIONAL INC, $40.85, -12.66 pct
The printer maker reported first-quarter adjusted earnings above analysts’ average estimate, helped by higher revenue from its managed print services and software businesses.
** HARLEY-DAVIDSON INC, $72.69, +7.63 pct
The motorcycle maker posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, lifted by strong sales growth outside its core North American market.
** MGIC INVESTMENT CORP, $8.88, +6.60 pct
Mortgage insurer MGIC posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit as fewer homeowners defaulted on their payments in an improving U.S. housing market.
** KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS NV, $32.77, -5.26 pct
Philips warned on Tuesday it would struggle to post a rise in operating profit for 2014 after slowing demand in China and Russia, combined with the impact of a strong euro, wiped out its first-quarter sales growth.
** NOVARTIS AG, $86.63, +1.37 pct
** GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC, $55.37, +4.24 pct
** ELI LILLY AND CO, $60.31, -0.90 pct
Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline traded more than $20 billion worth of assets on Tuesday, aiming to bolster their best businesses and exit weaker ones as the drugs industry reshapes to cope with healthcare spending cuts and generic competition.
Eli Lilly said it will buy the Novartis’ animal health business for $5.4 billion in cash to strengthen and diversify its Elanco unit.
** ALLISON TRANSMISSION HOLDINGS INC, $30.12, -3.21 pct
The company, which makes fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, said its shareholders Carlyle Group and Onex Corp sold 25 million shares they owned in the company.
Carlyle and Onex are the largest shareholders in Allison Transmission.
** RENT-A-CENTER INC, $29.26, +13.54 pct
The rent-to-own home furniture retailer forecast full-year earnings above analysts’ estimates after reporting a better-than-expected quarterly profit, due to higher revenues from Mexico and its Acceptance Now membership program.
** PERRIGO CO PLC, $150.9, +3.96 pct
Jefferies initiated coverage of the company’s stock with a “buy” rating, based on its dominant share of the over-the-counter medicine market, expansive pipeline, and “sustainable” growth strategy.
** BEBE STORES INC, $5.87, -8.85 pct
The women’s apparel retailer warned of a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss as extremely cold weather in parts of the United States cut sales.
** CANADIAN SOLAR INC, $29.12, +7.53 pct
The solar company said it won a supply agreement to provide 43 mega watt of photovoltaic modules to the second-largest solar power plant project in Japan. Delivery of the modules is expected to start from May 2014. (Compiled by Rohit T.K. in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)