(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 little changed on Wednesday after data showed the economy grew at a sharply lower-than-expected pace in the first quarter, but gains in private payrolls kept the market near break-even. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.06 percent at 16,545.7, the S&P 500 was up 0.02 percent at 1,878.67 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.22 percent at 4,094.352.
** EXELON CORP, $34.81, -3.79 pct
** PEPCO HOLDINGS INC, $26.74, +17.33 pct
Nuclear power producer Exelon Corp said it would buy Pepco Holdings for $6.83 billion to create the biggest U.S. Mid-Atlantic electric and gas utility.
** TWITTER INC, $38.35, -10.02 pct
The microblogging website reported lackluster user and usage growth for the second consecutive quarter on Tuesday, deepening investor concerns about its struggle to gain a mass following.
** EBAY INC, $51.75, -5.12 pct
At least 12 brokerages cut their price targets on the online retailer’s stock a day after the company forecast lower-than-expected current-quarter earnings and said it took a $3 billion non-cash tax charge in the first quarter.
JP Morgan said it would take time for new user growth in the company’s marketplaces and payments businesses to translate more into revenue growth, and cut its price target on the stock to $61 from $65.
** VALE SA, $13.215, -1.09 pct
The Brazilian miner said on Wednesday that first-quarter profit fell by nearly a fifth, a result in line with expectations, after the price of iron ore, its main product, fell 23 percent.
** HD SUPPLY HOLDINGS INC, $25.945, -2.86 pct
The construction products supplier announced a secondary offering of 30 million common shares. The company also said it would not receive any proceeds from the offering.
** C.H. ROBINSON WORLDWIDE INC, $59.59, +6.43 pct
The third-party provider of freight transport reported a 5 percent rise in first-quarter revenue, helped by higher North American truckload revenue. Truckload services provide a single customer with the whole truck.
** COLUMBIA SPORTSWEAR CO, $87.87, +7.24 pct
The outdoor sportswear maker on Tuesday reported first-quarter results that beat analysts’ average estimate, helped by strong demand for its Columbia and Sorel brands.
Columbia Sportswear also announced a definitive agreement to acquire apparel brand prAna Living LLC for $190 million in cash.
At least four brokerages raised their price targets on the company’s stock on Wednesday.
** CTC MEDIA INC, $8.82, +6.27 pct
The Russian broadcaster said it is complying with economic sanctions against the parent of a major shareholder and is studying the broader impact of the Ukraine crisis on its business.
** LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS INC, $40.79, +9.92 pct
The telecom network provider raised its forecast for 2014 adjusted EBITDA growth and free cash flow after reporting a much better-than-expected quarterly profit.
** PBF Energy, $30.73, +5.49 pct
The independent refiner reported a better-than-expected profit as it managed to ship cheaper inland U.S. crude to its refineries on the East Coast, boosting margins.
** NYMOX PHARMACEUTICAL CORP, $4.75, -7.95 pct
The company said its experimental prostate cancer drug reduced the progression of cancer in patients, but it could not determine if the study succeeded in meeting pre-determined goals due to a high rate of incorrect biopsies.
** ROYAL DUTCH SHELL, $79.1, +3.39 pct
Royal Dutch Shell capped a strong first quarter reporting season for oil majors with better-than-expected results which were boosted by gas earnings, while shareholders were rewarded with a higher dividend.
** WELLPOINT INC, $100.09, +4.93 pct
Chief Executive Officer Joseph Swedish said on Wednesday that the company expects to add more than 600,000 new members this year through the individual health insurance exchanges created under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.
The company said on a conference call that it had spent $50 million on hepatitis C drugs during the first quarter.
** FX ENERGY INC, $5.81, +24.95 pct
Analysts at Roth Capital raised their price target on the oil and gas producer’s stock to $6.25 from $5.75, saying the company’s estimated production rate of 24 million cubic feet per day for two wells in the Tuchola formation in Poland was above their previous expectations.
** BIG 5 SPORTING GOODS CORP, $12.489, -18.05 pct
The sporting goods retailer on Tuesday forecast current-quarter earnings below analysts’ average estimate, citing continued weak demand for firearms and ammunition and the negative effect of the calendar shift of the Easter holiday into the second quarter.
At least two brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock on Wednesday.
** AMBEV SA, $7.24, -5.24 pct
Shares of the Brazil-based brewing company fell on news that the Brazilian government will raise taxes on beers, sodas and other beverages in a move that will raise an extra 1.5 billion reals ($674 million) in revenue to help meet its elusive fiscal savings goal.
($1 = 2.2259 Brazilian reals)
** 3D SYSTEMS CORP, $46.95, +4.80 pct
The 3D printer maker’s shares recovered a day after they fell on weak quarterly gross margins, after Imperial Capital started coverage of the stock with an “outperform” rating, saying the company has consistently recorded strong financial performance and the long-term opportunity remains intact.
** CLOUD PEAK ENERGY INC, $19.52, -4.50 pct
Analysts at Clarkson Capital Markets cut their price target on the coal miner’s stock to $24 from $26, as Cloud Peak Energy lowered its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBIDTA) guidance for 2014 on Tuesday, driven by lower production outlook.
BMO cut its rating on the company’s stock to “market perform” from “outperform”, according to theflyonthewall.com.
** REGIONAL MANAGEMENT CORP, $15.51, -29.82 pct
The lender’s first-quarter profit largely missed analysts’ average estimate as it more than doubled the cash it set aside to cover bad loans to $16.9 million, from a year earlier. The company said it expected the increased level of net charge-offs to continue for several months.
At least six brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock.
** NQ MOBILE INC, $12.34, +10.57 pct
The Chinese mobile security software said its investigation of short-seller Muddy Waters’ claims of “massive fraud” have thus far found no evidence and that it does not anticipate any changes to its previously reported financial results.
** U.S. SILICA HOLDINGS INC, $43.95, +6.11 pct
The commercial silica maker’s first-quarter revenue beat analysts’ average estimate, as overall sales volumes increased by about 23 percent to 2.3 million tons. Revenue rose about 47 percent, to $180.1 million, for the quarter ended March 31.
** COACH INC, $44.51, -2.63 pct
Citi Investment Research downgraded its rating on the handbag retailer’s stock to “neutral” from “buy”, according to Theflyonthewall.com. Coach reported on Tuesday a 21 percent drop in sales at North American stores open at least a year for the three months ended March 29, its fourth straight decline.
At least 4 brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock on Wednesday.
** GFI GROUP INC, $3.75, +2.18 pct
The provider of trading technologies to listed markets reported adjusted first-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ average estimate, as the company’s software, analytics and market-data revenue rose.
** FUEL CELL ENERGY INC, $2.292, +5.14 pct
The U.S. developer of next-generation fuel cell power plants said it received a contract to power two 2.8 megawatt plants for 20 years from United Illuminating, part of UIL Holdings Corp . The two fuel cell plants will provide enough continuous baseload power to the electric grid to power about 5,600 homes, the company said.
** GREEN PLAINS RENEWABLE ENERGY INC, $29.55, +3.65 pct
The ethanol maker on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit, helped by higher margins for ethanol production and a lower average cost of corn.
** ENERGIZER HOLDINGS INC, $114.07, +16.74 pct
Energizer said it plans to separate into two publicly traded companies, one for batteries and other household products and the other for personal care brands such as Schick shavers and Stayfree female hygiene products.
** CERAGON NETWORKS LTD, $2.68, +2.29 pct
The Israel-based wireless network technology and services provider said a U.S. telecom carrier customer had placed a $4-million order with the company.
** THOMSON REUTERS CORP, $35.79, +2.76 pct
The global news and information company reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, bolstered by cost-cutting, as revenue edged higher mainly because of acquisitions.
** CARLYLE GROUP LP, $32.22, -5.82 pct
The private equity firm reported an 18 percent fall in quarterly profit on Wednesday as asset sales slowed and compensation costs rose.
** HYATT HOTELS CORP, $55.77, +3.24 pct
The company said it expected occupancy and room rates at its hotels to remain strong as U.S. business travel continues to grow.
** GARMIN LTD, $57.25, +3.92 pct
The fitness business reported a better-than-expected 10 percent rise in quarterly revenue as higher sales of its fitness and aviation devices made up for shrinking sales of personal navigation devices, a market it once dominated.
** UNITED STATES STEEL CORP, $25.54, -3.04 pct
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker returned to profit in the first quarter, but said on Tuesday it expected reduced operating income in the second quarter as cold weather slowed transportation of raw materials and finished products.
** INTERNATIONAL PAPER CO, $47.32, +3.09 pct
The largest North American producer of corrugated shipping boxes posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday due to rising demand.
** PANERA BREAD CO, $151.22, -7.33 pct
The company reported a lower quarterly profit on Tuesday and trimmed its 2014 sales and profit forecasts, after severe winter storms in large swathes of the United States prevented customers from visiting its cafes.
At least two brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock on Wednesday.
** NOODLES & CO, $34, -10.53 pct
The restaurant operator on Tuesday reported first-quarter results that missed analysts’ average estimate, hurt by extreme cold weather in parts of the United States.
At least three brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock on Wednesday.
** AUXILIUM PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $22.1, -19.23 pct
The drug maker on Tuesday said it cut its full-year 2014 revenue outlook to a range of $380-$420 million from its previously announced range of $450-$490 million, primarily due to weaker-then-expected sales of its testosterone gel Testim.
At least 4 brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock.
** VISTAPRINT NV, $40.0001, -25.12 pct
The online designing and printing services company reported a much lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, hurt by fewer customer additions as it shifts from offering deep discounts.
** EXPRESS SCRIPTS HOLDING CO, $66.8435, -5.87 pct
The pharmacy benefit manager on Tuesday posted a lower-than-expected first-quarter profit and decreased its earnings forecast for full-year 2014, saying adjusted prescription volume would be less than it had anticipated.
** BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO, $49.93, +1.24 pct
The drug maker reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, helped by cost cuts and lower taxes, but sparked concerns over a possible delay in completing its marketing application for a high-profile cancer drug.
** DREAMWORKS ANIMATION SKG INC, $23.56, -10.66 pct
The Hollywood studio reported its first quarterly loss in five quarters as it took an impairment charge related to the weak box office performance of the movie “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”.
** LUMBER LIQUIDATORS HOLDINGS INC, $79.95, -7.03 pct
The hardwood flooring retailer reported first-quarter results that missed analysts’ average estimate, as the severe winter weather across parts of the United States hurt sales.
** MUELLER WATER PRODUCTS INC, $9.25, +0.65 pct
The maker of water distribution products and reported a 56 percent rise in second-quarter profit on Tuesday, from $6.2 million a year earlier, due to a rise in demand for valves, hydrants and brass products. (Compiled by Rohit T.K. in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings)