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U.S. stock indexes were little changed on Wednesday as gains in energy stocks were offset by declines in utilities and materials. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.11 percent at 16,845.96, the S&P 500 was down 0.10 percent at 1,976.44 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.30 percent at 4,675.666.
** MONSANTO CO, $85.49, -7.57 pct
The world’s largest seed company slashed its earnings forecast for the year, hurt by a strong dollar and low prices for its seeds as farmers curb spending. The company said on Wednesday it now expected adjusted earnings of $4.40-$5.10 per share, compared with the $5.10-$5.60 it had forecast in December.
** CHECKPOINT SYSTEMS INC, $10.17, +28.90 pct
Canadian label and packaging maker CCL Industries Inc said it would buy U.S.-based Checkpoint, which makes anti-theft tags used by retailers, for about $422 million. CCL’s offer of $10.15 per share in cash represents a premium of about 29 percent to Checkpoint’s Tuesday close.
** BIG 5 SPORTING GOODS CORP, $12, -9.71 pct
The sporting goods retailer said it expected first-quarter earnings to range between a loss of 5 cents per share to a profit of 2 cents per share, well below the average analyst estimate of a profit of 13 cents. The company also said it expected first-quarter same-store sales to fall due to increased clearance activity.
** DARLING INGREDIENTS INC, $11.58, +26.70 pct
The food ingredients maker reported a 21 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher prices and volume sales in its food and fuel businesses. Chief Executive Randall Stuewe said the company expected improved conditions for fats and oils demand globally during spring.
** ULTRA PETROLEUM CORP, $0.4542, +26.17 pct
The oil and gas producer said its unit Ultra Resources Inc entered into waiver and amendment agreements with lenders to postpone and defer maturity and interest payments on the company’s senior notes and waive other potential defaults due between March 1 and April 30. Ultra Petroleum had raised doubts about its ability to stay in business on Monday.
** ADVAXIS INC, $7.2, +22.03 pct
The biotechnology company said data from a mid-stage study on its head-and-neck cancer drug was selected as a “late-breaker” poster presentation at an upcoming American Association for Cancer Research meeting. Late-breaking abstracts at the association are for “highly significant and timely findings” in cancer research and for “only abstracts deemed to be of high scientific priority are accepted for presentation.”
** KONA GRILL INC, $12.91, -14.62 pct
The grill and sushi restaurant chain reported a bigger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss on Tuesday as costs rose due to new restaurant openings. The company also forecast full-year 2016 sales below the average analyst estimate.
** JAVELIN MORTGAGE INVESTMENT CORP, $7.03, +17.17 pct
** ARMOUR RESIDENTIAL REIT INC, $19.76, +1.59 pct
Armour Residential said it agreed to buy Javelin for $84.7 million, or $7.14 per share in cash. The offer price is a premium of 19 percent to Javelin’s Tuesday close.
** ZYNGA INC, $2.25, +4.17 pct
The creator of “FarmVille” named former Electronic Arts Inc executive Frank Gibeau as its chief executive, betting on an industry veteran to help accelerate its transition into a company focused on mobile gaming.
** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL INC, $66.82, +2.09 pct
A U.S. regulatory probe of the Canadian drugmaker, disclosed by the company on Monday, is focused on the company’s relationship with specialty pharmacy Philidor RX Services and was triggered by Valeant’s own request that regulators investigate a short seller’s allegations, people familiar with the matter said.
** EYEGATE PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $4.3181, +13.04 pct
The eye drug developer said it had received an additional milestone payment from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc in connection with its lead experimental drug, EGP-437.
** EVERYDAY HEALTH INC, $5.72, +22.75 pct
The health and wellness information provider reported fourth-quarter profit and revenue above analysts’ estimates. Everyday also forecast 2016 revenue in line with analysts’ estimates, but Cowen & Co analysts said the guidance “came in better than some may have expected”.
** NUCOR CORP, $41.67, +1.73 pct
** STEEL DYNAMICS INC, $19.95, +3.31 pct
** UNITED STATES STEEL CORP, $10.36, +12.73 pct
** ARCELORMITTAL SA, $4.505, +8.82 pct
** AK STEEL HOLDING CORP, $3.33, +13.65 pct
** ALLEGHENY TECHNOLOGIES INC, $14.97, +9.35 pct
** SCHNITZER STEEL INDUSTRIES INC, $15.36, +2.74 pct
U.S. steel stocks rose after the U.S. Commerce Department found that several companies violated anti-dumping law over cold-rolled steel flat products, issuing preliminary findings in its probe of seven countries accused of distorting the market with artificially low prices. U.S. steel companies had requested a probe into certain steel products from Brazil, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the UK.
** NEOPHOTONICS CORP, $12.43, +7.25 pct
The telecom network equipment maker reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and revenue, helped by higher sales of 100G products used in high speed data transmission. The company also forecast first-quarter profit and revenue above the average analyst estimates. At least five brokerages raised their price targets on the stock.
** ASCENA RETAIL GROUP INC, $8.335, -5.82 pct
Analysts at Cowen & Co cut their price target on the women’s apparel retailer’s stock after the company posted a bigger-than-expected drop in second-quarter comparable store sales.
** BAZAARVOICE INC, $3.5, +11.11 pct
The ecommerce software maker posted an adjusted profit for the first time, helped by lower costs. The company also reported better-than-expected revenue due to a higher number of active clients.
** TRIBUNE PUBLISHING CO, $9.4, +10.59 pct
The publisher of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune said it would offer print subscribers free access to its digital editions by April and that the head of its digital business would leave.
** AMERICAN WATER WORKS CO INC, $68.67, +5.16 pct
** CONSOL ENERGY INC, $9.35, +3.31 pct
Water and wastewater utility American Water Works will join the S&P 500 index, replacing Consol Energy. Consol Energy will join the S&P MidCap 400.
** CSX CORP, $24.91, +1.10 pct
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd had approached the company for a takeover in January, but CSX rebuffed CP's advances, the Wall Street Journal reported. (on.wsj.com/1WUL4yJ) (Compiled by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)