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U.S. stocks opened slightly higher on Wednesday, with buyers largely taking a pause following the biggest four-day rally for the S&P 500 since January 2013. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.04 percent at 16,621.4, the S&P 500 was up 0.13 percent at 1,943.74 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.05 percent at 4,421.894.
** DOW CHEMICAL CO, $49, +1.64 pct
The No. 1 U.S. chemical maker by sales, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit for the fourth time in a row, helped by higher sales in its plastics and performance materials business units.
** 3D SYSTEMS CORP, $37.48, -13.60 pct
The three-dimensional printer maker estimated quarterly revenue well below the average analyst estimate, citing manufacturing constraints for its direct metal printers.
** BLUE EARTH INC, $1.7, +31.78 pct
The alternative energy services provider’s stock lost half its value in record volumes on Tuesday, its largest fall in four years, with 6.7 million shares changing hands.
The company responded late on Tuesday to a short-seller's article on Seeking Alpha which alleged that the company was a "questionable" reverse merger led by Chief Executive Jenny Thomas and Vice President John Francis. (bit.ly/1otw5Qg)
The report “compiles selective information in a false and misleading manner to maliciously advance, we believe, a short agenda for personal gain,” Blue Earth said.
** REGULUS THERAPEUTICS INC, $11.6, +71.34 pct
The drug developer’s interim results of study testing its hepatitis C drug (HCV) as monotherapy showed significant improvement in patients, including in difficult-to-treat genotypes.
Drug, RG-101, was safe and well-tolerated and its profile could allow for combination with other agents to treat HCV, Regulus said.
** JOHNSON & JOHNSON, $101.09, +0.73 pct
** GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC, $44.85, +2.80 pct
** NEWLINK GENETICS, $35.2, +2.03 pct
** TEKMIRA PHARMACEUTICALS CORP, $19.936, +10.88 pct
Shares of companies developing Ebola vaccines rose before the bell. Leading drugmakers plan to work together to accelerate development of an Ebola vaccine and produce millions of doses of the most effective experimental product for use next year.
J&J said it was accelerating work on its experimental Ebola vaccine and aims to produce 1 million doses next year, 250,000 of which are expected to be available by May.
J&J has already discussed collaboration with GSK, which is working on a rival vaccine.
Separately, Tekmira said it started limited manufacturing of its therapeutic targeting Ebola. The company said its RNAi therapeutic, which works by preventing virus from replicating, is part of its TKM-Ebola program and would be available by early December.
** ORAMED PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $8.1001, +1.89 pct
Oramed said its oral insulin capsule appeared to be safe and was well-tolerated by diabetics in a mid-stage trial.
** BIOGEN IDEC, $300.99, -7.89 pct
The biotechnology company’s third quarter sales of its big-selling new oral multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera fell short of lofty Wall Street estimates for the first time.
“Generally a solid quarter, though a slight Tecfidera miss and lack of revenue guidance raise might disappoint some,” Wells Fargo analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a note.
** CREE INC, $29.35, -11.46 pct
At least seven brokerages cut their price targets on the light-emitting diode maker’s stock by as much as $14 to as low as $28. The stock has a median price target of $33.50.
The company on Tuesday reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue and forecast current-quarter adjusted profit and revenue below the average analyst estimate due to weak demand for LEDs.
** BROADCOM CORP, $39.63, +6.16 pct
Four brokerages raised their price targets on the chipmaker’s stock after third-quarter results of the company, whose wifi connectivity chips are used in Apple’s iPhones, exceeded Wall Street’s estimates on Tuesday.
“We like Broadcom stock, which we think should continue to rerate higher from its current low valuation as the focus shifts towards the company’s strengths in networking, infrastructure, and broadband,” Morgan Stanley said in a note to clients.
Morgan Stanley raised its price target on the stock to $47 from $44, above the median price target of $45.
** UNISYS CORP, $23.96, +23.63 pct
The IT company posted on Tuesday a third-quarter profit compared with a year-earlier loss. Revenue rose 11 percent, driven by growth in its technology and services businesses.
** YAHOO INC, $42.22, +5.08 pct
At least nine brokerages raised their price targets on the online search and advertising company’s stock by as much as $10 to a high of $53.
The company’s third-quarter revenue beat Wall Street’s target as revenue from Yahoo’s search business rose 4 percent.
Chief Executive Marissa Mayer spent much of Tuesday’s earnings call highlighting improvements in Yahoo’s mobile business, the benefits from acquisitions and billions of dollars in buybacks.
** SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORP, $37.92, +9.91 pct
The theme park operator reported on Tuesday better-than-expected third-quarter revenue, helped by an 8 percent rise in admissions revenue per capita.
** VMWARE INC, $81.77, -7.28 pct
The software maker forecast current-quarter revenue largely below Wall Street’s estimates due to a delay in the closing of a large U.S. government deal and lower bookings in Germany, Russia and Japan in the third quarter.
** COCA-COLA CO, $40.27, -1.01 pct
The world’s largest beverage maker announced new cost-cutting measures on Tuesday and a timeline for selling its bottling operations after its quarterly profit slumped 14 percent as it the struggled to find growth amid a soft market for soda.
The company said it would hand back, or refranchise, about two-thirds of its North American bottling territories by the end of 2017.
** APPLE INC, $103.16, +0.67 pct
The iPhone maker and GT Advanced Technologies Inc struck an agreement on Tuesday that will let GT begin the shutdown of key Arizona operations, and shed some more light on why the former stock market darling abruptly filed for bankruptcy this month.
** TESLA MOTORS INC, $235.85, +0.22 pct
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill on Tuesday that will keep the electric carmaker from selling its cars directly to consumers in the state, home to the biggest U.S. automakers.
** SUSSER PETROLEUM PARTNERS LP, $45.13, -2.80 pct
The motor fuel distributor said on Tuesday that it started an offering of 8 million units, representing about 36 percent of its total outstanding units. Susser intends to use the proceeds to repay debt under its revolving credit facility.
The company also said it expects third-quarter results to be hurt by non-cash charges of $2 million-$2.5 million related to Susser Holdings Corp’s acquisition by Energy Transfer Partners LP.
** IROBOT CORP, $35.87, +13.48 pct
The robot maker’s third-quarter profit nearly doubled and revenue and profit both beat analysts’ average estimates. The company also raised its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday.
IRobot said orders in both its home as well as defense and security businesses that were originally expected in the fourth quarter were received and delivered in the third quarter.
** OCWEN FINANCIAL CORP, $19.86, -7.54 pct
Two brokerages cut their ratings on the mortgage servicing company’s stock after New York state’s financial regulator said on Tuesday that Ocwen may have harmed borrowers by sending them backdated letters about loan modifications and foreclosures.
Evercore downgraded the stock to “hold” from “buy,” and BofA Merrill Lynch to “neutral” from “buy”. Citigroup cut its target price on the stock to $23 from $32. The stock has a median target price of $29.
** INTUITIVE SURGICAL INC, $484.84, -2.20 pct
Intuitive showed signs on Tuesday of bouncing back from a difficult first half of the year as sales of its da Vinci robotic surgical systems increased in the third quarter, as did procedures using the company’s high-priced machines.
** GFI GROUP, $5.2, +1.36 pct
** BGC PARTNERS INC, $7.44, -0.67 pct
Rival BGC launched a hostile $675 million bid for the interdealer broker after talks between two companies reached a deadlock.
BGC said it commenced an all-cash tender offer of $5.25 per share for the 86.5 percent of GFI it does not already own.
** SONIC CORP, $24.62, +4.45 pct
The drive-in restaurant chain operator’s fourth-quarter sales beat the average analyst estimate helped by a 4.6 percent rise in same-store sales growth.
The company said it expects fiscal 2015 same-store sales to grow in “low single digit” percentage range, and drive-in margins to improve 50-100 basis points. (Compiled by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings)