(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. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday, after the S&P 500 advanced for two straight days and investors assessed some of the final corporate results of earnings season. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 0.02 percent at 16,478, S&P 500 futures were down 0.02 percent at 1,881.9 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.02 percent at 3,614.
** AEROFLEX HOLDING CORP, Monday close $8.31, +24.91 pct premarket
British aerospace and defense supplier Cobham is buying U.S. communications equipment maker Aeroflex Holding Corp for $1.46 billion, continuing its quest for more commercial customers as its main defense clients cut spending.
** STAPLES INC, , Monday close $13.39, -10.75 pct premarket
The largest U.S. office supply retailer forecast a decline in sales in the current quarter as it struggles to win back shoppers who have shifted office supply purchases to e-retailers, mass merchants and drugstores.
** INTERCEPT PHARMA, Monday close $260, -8.85 pct premarket
An article on Street.com alleged that the drugmaker had intentionally downplayed the side effects of its liver disease drug in a mid-stage trial that it stopped in January citing highly positive data. (link.reuters.com/cuw49v)
At the time, Intercept’s stock had quadrupled to a life high of $305.
** CLOVIS ONCOLOGY, Monday close $56.77, +6.46 pct after market
The drug developer said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted breakthrough therapy status to its experimental lung cancer drug.
Breakthrough therapy status is granted to drugs that aim to treat serious diseases based on initial data and can help to expedite the development and review process. Clovis said it was preparing to submit a U.S. marketing application for the drug by mid-2015.
** ENDOCYTE INC, Monday close $6.49, -5.39 pct premarket
** MERCK & CO INC, Monday close $56.35
Merck and Endocyte said on Monday that they had withdrawn conditional marketing authorization applications from the European health regulator for their experimental advanced ovarian cancer treatment.
The decision follows a recommendation from an independent safety committee that said a mid-stage study testing the drug, vintafolide, in combination with a chemotherapy agent, should be stopped, as the pre-specified criteria for improving survival in patients without their cancer worsening was not met. Study enrollment was suspended earlier this month, the companies said.
** DICK‘S SPORTING GOODS INC, Monday close $53.16, -13.68 pct premarket
The athletic apparel and footwear retailer estimated current-quarter earnings way below analysts’ average estimate and cut its full-year 2014 adjusted earnings and same-store sales growth forecasts due to weak demand for its golf and hunting products.
** AMBARELLA INC, Monday close $24.78, +2.91 pct after market
Ascendiant Capital began coverage of the video-processing chipmaker’s stock with a “buy” rating and a price target of $30, according to StreetInsider.com. The brokerage expects a positive impact for the company from wearable sports camera maker GoPro Inc’s IPO filing. GoPro filed with U.S. regulators on Monday to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering of common stock.
** VODAFONE GROUP PLC, Monday close $36.31, -3.75 pct premarket
Britain’s Vodafone said next year’s earnings would be hit by vital investment in its network, as it reported a 6.6 billion pound ($11.1 billion) dent to its 2014 results from writing down the value of European operations struggling in a tough market.
($1 = 0.5943 British Pounds)
** PERFECT WORLD CO LTD, Monday close $18.34, -3.50 percent after market
China-based online game developer Perfect World reported lower first-quarter revenue compared with the previous quarter, hurt by lower revenue from licensing and online game operations.
Brokerage Pacific Crest cuts its price target on the company’s stock to $24 from $28.
** OPHTHOTECH CORP, Monday close $31.46, +22.48 pct after market
** NOVARTIS AG, Monday close $89.52
Ophthotech Corp said it could potentially receive over $1 billion in payments as part of a licensing deal for its experimental eye drug with Novartis AG.
** PFIZER INC, Monday close $29.28
** ASTRAZENECA PLC, Monday close $70.64, +2.36 pct premarket
AstraZeneca’s twelfth largest shareholder Schroders has joined a chorus of investor disapproval over its rejection of a takeover offer by Pfizer and urged it back into talks.
** HOME DEPOT INC, Monday close $76.5, -1.44 pct premarket
The world’s largest home improvement chain reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales as its spring selling season got off to a slow start after a severe winter in many parts of the United States.
** ALLERGAN INC, Monday close $159.7
** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL INC, Monday close $127.21
Activist investor William Ackman said on Monday that Allergan Inc’s chief executive has a “disabling” conflict of interest because a takeover of his company by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc would likely mean the loss of his job.
** URBAN OUTFITTERS INC, $36.17, -4.48 pct premarket
The teen apparel retailer reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as costs jumped and tough competition forced it to spend more on marketing.
** MEDTRONIC INC, $60.34, +0.27 pct premarket
Medtronic Inc on Tuesday said it has agreed to pay royalties to rival medical device maker Edwards Lifesciences Corp in a settlement agreement that allows Medtronic to continue to sell its CoreValve replacement heart valves.
** LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP, Monday close $162.3
** BOEING CO, Monday close $131.35
A joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing said on Monday that its rocket launch costs were far lower than claimed by its rival, privately-held Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, which is suing the U.S. government for shutting it out of the lucrative rocket launch business.
** BP PLC, Monday close $51.36, -0.97 pct premarket
A U.S. appeals court will not revisit a decision to reject BP Plc’s bid to block businesses from recovering money over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, even if those businesses could not trace their economic losses to the disaster.
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, Monday close $34.25
The automaker has turned to an old hand to lead its global communications as it deals with the fallout of a defective ignition-switch issue linked to at least 13 deaths and the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.
** BLACKROCK INC, Monday close $299
The largest U.S. provider of exchange-traded funds has moved a step further toward launching a new breed of ETFs that would be allowed to keep holdings under wraps for months, instead of the daily disclosure now required.
** GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC, $54.84, -0.16 pct premarket
GlaxoSmithKline and Danish biotech company Genmab said disappointing results from a study on treating relapsed lymphoma with their ofatumumab drug meant it was unlikely they would seek its regulatory approval.
** GOOGLE INC , $538.83, +0.10 pct premarket
The world’s largest search engine’s YouTube unit has reached a deal to acquire videogame-streaming service Twitch for more than $1 billion, according to a report in Variety, the entertainment news publication.
Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates is betting its Penfolds brand and a cost-cutting new CEO will boost earnings and justify its decision to reject a $2.90 billion takeover offer from the private equity giant.
** WAL-MART STORES INC, $76.61
The China operating arm of the U.S. retailer said that it planned to invest 580 million yuan ($92.99 million) to remodel 55 existing stores in China this year to enhance store operations and optimize customer experience.
($1 = 6.2374 Chinese Yuan)
** MICROSOFT CORP, Monday close $39.75, -0.30 pct premarket
Microsoft, which is desperately playing catch-up with Apple’s iPad, looks set to unveil the third generation of its Surface tablet at a press gathering in New York. The company has hinted previously that it is focusing on smaller screens, which could herald a mini Surface to take on the hot-selling, diminutive devices from Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon.
Also, China has banned government use of Windows 8, Microsoft Corp’s latest operating system (OS), in a blow to the U.S. technology company which has long been plagued by sales woes in the country.
** INTUIT INC, Monday close $77.07
The financial software developer will report third-quarter results after market close on Tuesday. The company expects a strong third-quarter performance due to demand for its online tax-preparation software, TurboTax, in the U.S. tax-filing season. Intuit earns most of its profit in its second and third quarters, when Americans are more likely to buy its software in the lead-up to the tax season. Sales of TurboTax Online units grew 14 percent for the U.S. tax season ended April 16. The third-quarter results are expected to benefit from the growing do-it-yourself software category. Intuit raised its forecast for full-year consumer tax revenue growth to 6 percent from its previous guidance of 4-5 percent.
** TJX COMPANIES INC, Monday close $58.4
The owner of the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains is scheduled to report first-quarter results on Tuesday before markets open. Recent quarters have been good for the off-price retailer as value-conscious consumers look for cheaper alternatives. Investors will wait to see if TJX continues to gain customers at the cost of larger peers. The bargain store operator has said it expects comparable-store sales growth of 1-2 percent and earnings in the range of 65-66 cents per share, below the average analyst estimate of 71 cents per share. (Compiled by Ankit Ajmera in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings)