(For faster updates on individual market-movers, Eikon users please use search string "STXBZ US"; for the Day Ahead newsletter, link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stock indexes were little changed at the open on Thursday, as a report on the labor market came in better than expected, a positive sign for upcoming payrolls data. U.S. stock indexes xxx on Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.34 percent at 17,759.17, the S&P 500 was up 0.40 percent at 2,067.87 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.21 percent at 4,890.26.
** HERCULES OFFSHORE INC, $0.5162, +14.00 pct
The rig contractor signed a five-year contract with a unit of Eni S.p.A for use of the Hercules 260 jackup rig in West Africa with a dayrate of $75,000-$125,000 per day. Global Hunter Securities analysts said the contract has positive implications given the difficulties of securing term on any rig in the currently depressed offshore market.
** SEACHANGE INTERNATIONAL INC, $6.79, -15.13 pct
The video streaming products supplier forecast a surprise decrease in full-year revenue as its customers shift to cloud-based services. The company’s transition to a subscription-based software licensing model is also expected to dent product revenue. SeaChange expects 2016 revenue to fall to about $105-$115 million from $115.4 million in the year ended January 2015.
** CONATUS PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $6.1635, -9.49 pct
The liver-focused biotech priced its offering of about 3.5 million shares at $5.75 each, a discount of about 16 percent to the stock’s Wednesday close. The company expects gross proceeds of about $20 million, which it plans to use to fund the development of its lead drug, emricasan, which aims to interrupt the progression of liver disease.
** GARMIN LTD, $46.35, -1.53 pct
Goldman Sachs removed the GPS-based gadgets maker’s stock from its Americas “buy” list, cut its rating to “neutral” and slashed the price target, citing increased risks from competition and currency. The threat from Apple Watch and concerns around sustainability of revenue growth in Garmin’s fitness business have also put shares under pressure, Goldman analysts wrote.
** FEMALE HEALTH CO, $3.11, +8.74 pct
The women’s health company said it expected sales of its female condom FC2, its only product, to jump 187 percent to 20.8 million units in the second-quarter from 7.3 million a year earlier.
** LION BIOTECHNOLOGIES INC, $13.47, +7.33 pct
FBR started coverage of the drug developer’s stock with an “outperform” rating and $20 price target, citing the potential of the company’s ‘tumor infiltrating lymphocytes’ therapy. FBR analysts expect a late-stage trial on the therapy to start in the second half of 2016, and a marketing approval filing in late 2018.
** INFINERA CORP, $19.03, -1.55 pct
Goldman Sachs cut its rating of the networking equipment maker’s stock to “neutral”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INC, $19.03, -1.55 pct
The insurer is set to join the S&P MidCap 400 after close of trading on April 6, replacing Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd, which was acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals on Wednesday.
** ARISTA NETWORKS INC, $67, -3.76 pct
Kelyn Brannon, the cloud-based networking software maker’s CFO since July 2013, will leave the company for personal reasons. Brannon was instrumental in taking the company public in June 2014.
** CORONADO BIOSCIENCES INC, $4.0701, +3.83 pct
The drug developer said it had formed a subsidiary, DiaVax Biosciences, to develop immunotherapies for the prevention and treatment of a common type of virus called cytomegalovirus. These immunotherapies are developed in a lab at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. Under an agreement with City of Hope, DiaVax has secured worldwide rights to two immunotherapeutic vaccines for controlling the virus in patients undergoing blood cell or organ transplants.
** SEQUENTIAL BRANDS GROUP INC, $11.67, +9.37 pct
The brand management and licensing company said it had acquired a majority stake in the Jessica Simpson brand. Sequential said it expected forward 12-month total royalty revenue of $88 million-$90 million upon closing the deal. The brand, which has 31 product categories including footwear, apparel and fragrance, has annual retail sales of about $1 billion.
** KORNIT DIGITAL LTD, $14.1, +41.00 pct
The Israel-based digital printing products maker raised $71 million after an IPO of 7.1 million shares priced at $10 per share, well below the expected range of $13-$15. The company’s shares rose as much as 30 percent to $13, valuing the company at about $373.3 million.
** NEWLINK GENETICS CORP, $52.405, -2.85 pct
Jefferies downgraded the biotech company’s stock to “hold” from “buy”, based on an expected data readout from a late-stage study testing NewLink’s lead drug, for which the brokerage sees a 30 percent chance of success. The risk associated with the data readout does not justify buying shares ahead of the event at NewLink’s current valuation, Jefferies analysts wrote.
** FRESHPET INC, $21.76, +7.19 pct
Three brokerages raised their price targets on the pet food maker’s stock after the company reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter sales on Tuesday. Freshpet has benefited from favorable trends in pet spending and its modestly higher-end, more healthy products, Stifel Nicolaus analysts wrote in a note.
** LUMBER LIQUIDATORS HOLDINGS INC, $34.29, +3.88 pct
The hardwood flooring retailer’s first-quarter sales rose 5.6 pct to top estimates, despite a nearly 18 percent drop in same-store sales in March after CBS’s “60 Minutes” show alleged that the company’s laminate flooring products contained excessive levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
** TESLA MOTORS INC, $191.51, +2.09 pct
Credit Suisse analysts expect the electric car maker to see strong demand from Europe, according to Streetinsider.com (bit.ly/1G6NkOA).
** REPROS THERAPEUTICS INC, $9.25, +8.95 pct
The drug developer said the U.S. FDA had accepted its New Drug Application for its lead product Androxal, which treats secondary hypogonadism in overweight men. Hypogonadism is a condition where the body fails to produce enough testosterone - the hormone that plays a key role in growth and development in men.
** FXCM INC, $2.17, +1.88 pct
The retail currency broker said it repaid the $54 million outstanding under its credit agreement with Leucadia National Corp. The payment was funded in part with proceeds from sale of FXCM Japan to Japanese ecommerce company Rakuten Inc’s foreign exchange brokerage. FXCM has now repaid $66 million under the credit agreement, and by paying more than $60 million before April 16, FXCM has avoided a contingent financing fee of $30 million.
** 500.COM LTD, $12.03, +15.45 pct
Online lottery sales in China are set to resume after inspection by the government, according to Chinese investment advisory firm aastocks.com, which cited Mainland Media. Some Chinese lottery centers had said in February they would temporarily suspend online sales.
** MCDONALD’S CORP, $95.22, -1.11 pct
McDonald’s plans to raise the average pay of about 90,000 U.S. workers to about $10 an hour, but the increase will not benefit workers at the vast majority of the restaurants, because they are operated by franchisees, who make their own wage decisions.
** SIMON PROPERTY GROUP INC, $200.67, +1.35 pct
The largest U.S. shopping mall owner said it would buy back $2 billion in stock, less than 48 hours after scrapping an attempt to buy rival Macerich Co. Simon Property said on Thursday it could repurchase its shares over the next two years. (Compiled by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)