August 13, 2013 / 1:23 PM / in 4 years

MARKET PULSE-J.C. Penney, Eli Lilly, Whirlpool, First BanCorp, Xerox

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Aug 13 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks to watch on Tuesday:

FUTURES RISE AHEAD OF RETAIL DATA, J.C. PENNEY UP EARLY

U.S. stock index futures rose, indicating a rebound as investors looked ahead to the latest economic data and sought bargains following an extended period of weakness.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.3 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 39 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 7 points.

** J.C. PENNEY CO, Monday close $13.17, up 1.6 pct premarket

J.C. Penney said activist investor Bill Ackman had resigned from the board, three years after embarking on a public and at times acrimonious campaign to turn around the struggling department store operator and less than a week after demanding the ouster of its chairman and chief executive.

** ELI LILLY AND CO, Monday close $54.05, up 5 pct premarket

The company said its experimental lung cancer drug increased patients’ survival in a late-stage trial, and it plans to file for an U.S. marketing application before the end of 2014.

** WHIRLPOOL CORP, Monday close $135.06

The home appliance maker said its Chinese unit would acquire a 51 percent stake in Hefei Rongshida Sanyo Electric Co Ltd for about 3.4 billion yuan ($552 million).

** MICROSOFT CORP, Monday close $32.87, down 1 pct premarket

Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus downgraded Microsoft’s stock to “hold” from “buy”, citing pricing pressure for its operating system Windows and increasing sales and marketing expenses.

“We believe the Windows headwinds are more substantial than we envisioned a few months ago, especially as it relates to potential average selling price contraction,” analysts said in a note to clients.

Stifel also removed its price target of $36 on the stock.

** HEWLETT-PACKARD CO, Monday close $26.74, up 1.2 pct premarket

** XEROX CORP, Monday close $10.15, up 4 pct premarket

Citigroup analysts added Hewlett-Packard to their U.S. focus list, saying they expect the computer maker to report better-than-expected quarterly results, and to forecast current-quarter results “at least” in line with estimates. Citigroup maintained its “buy” rating on the stock.

Citigroup also upgraded printer and copier maker Xerox’s stock to “buy” from “neutral”, raising its price target to $13 from $9.75.

The brokerage expects both companies to benefit next year from U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 healthcare law, dubbed “Obamacare”.

** FIRST BANCORP, Monday close $6.83, down 1 pct premarket

The lender said the secondary offering of 28 million shares of its common stock was priced at $6.75 per share, which represents a discount to the stock’s Monday closing. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Oaktree Capital Management are cutting their stakes in the company with this offering.

** BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC, Monday close $73.67

China’s Ministry of Commerce has approved the company’s $4 billion bid for Sweden’s Gambro AB provided Baxter sells its global continuous renal replacement therapy business, among other conditions.

** AVANIR PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Monday close $4.50, up 11 pct premarket

** MERCK & CO INC, Monday close $48.47

Avanir said on Monday that it signed a three-year agreement with Merck to co-promote Merck’s multibillion-dollar drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes.

** YUM BRANDS INC, Monday close $74.47, down 3.3 pct premarket

The heat seems to be getting to KFC parent Yum Brands in China, after the fast-food chain saw China sales slide in July, with some market watchers saying a lack of focus on cooling drinks and ice cream meant diners looked elsewhere as record hot weather gripped the country.

Yum reported on Monday a much steeper-than-expected 13 percent drop in July sales at established restaurants in China as the company strives to bounce back from the double blows of a food safety scare and bird flu outbreak in its top market.

** BLACKBERRY LTD, Monday close $10.78

The struggling smartphone maker is weighing options that could include an outright sale, it said on Monday, and its largest shareholder is stepping down from its board to avoid any possible conflict of interest.

** DIGITAL GENERATION INC, Monday close $10.31, up 40 pct premarket

Digital Generation agreed to sell its television business for $485 million to Extreme Reach Inc, a year after Reuters reported that the advertising distribution company had rejected a takeover bid by its rival.

** FLOWERS FOODS INC, Monday close $23.52, up 6.3 pct premarket

The No. 2 U.S. baking company reported better-than-expected second-quarter results, driven by its recent acquisitions of Lepage Bakeries and some of Sara Lee’s bread brands in California.

** ORBITZ WORLDWIDE, Monday close $11.74, down 13 pct premarket

The online travel agency said its largest shareholder, PAR Capital Management, sold 8.1 million of its 24.6 million shares in Orbitz Worldwide.

** MERRIMACK PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Monday close $4.04, up 8 pct premarket

U.S. health regulators have granted two separate orphan drug designations for the pharmaceuticals company’s experimental drug, MM-111, for treatment of esophageal cancer and gastric as well as gastroesophageal junction cancers.

Orphan status is granted to drugs that treat conditions or diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. The designation usually comes with a seven-year marketing exclusivity if the drug is approved for sale.

** BP PLC, Monday close $41.08

** EXXON MOBIL CORP, Monday close $89.89

** CHEVRON CORP, Monday close $121.80

President Enrique Pena Nieto on Monday proposed an overhaul of Mexico’s energy industry to offer private companies profit-sharing contracts, but investors said it might be too cautious and some sold Mexican assets. It was not yet clear how attractive the reform would be for oil majors such as BP and Exxon Mobil.

Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell said the government had “not spoken with the big oil companies” about the reform. Chevron welcomed “any decision by the government and people of Mexico to provide new opportunities for investments” but said it had not yet reviewed the proposal.

** INTEROIL CORP, Monday close $83.98

The oil and gas company, which primarily operates in Papua New Guinea, said its net loss narrowed in the second quarter as margins increased due to stable crude and refined products prices.

** BLACKSTONE GROUP LP, Monday close $22.94

** GENERAL ELECTRIC CO, Monday close $24.27

Blackstone is adding apartments to its portfolio of commercial real estate by agreeing to buy majority share in 80 apartment complexes from General Electric’s lending arm, a person familiar with the deal said on Monday.

** FIRST MAJESTIC SILVER CORP, Monday close 13.30, down 0.4 pct premarket

The Canadian miner reported a steep fall in second-quarter profit as it suspended a portion of its silver sales due to a slump in prices.

Earnings in the quarter ended June 30 fell to $0.2 million, or breakeven per share, from $15.3 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier.

** SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS HOLDINGS INC, Monday close $24.64

The supplier of aircraft components to Boeing, Airbus and other plane makers, said its earnings swung to a loss in the latest quarter due to $448 million in cost overruns on several aircraft wing programs.

** BOEING CO, Monday close $104.24

U.S. hopes of landing a coveted deal worth more than $4 billion to sell 36 fighter jets to Brazil have suffered a setback with recent revelations that the United States collected data on Brazilian Internet communications. Angry Brazilian senators questioned President Dilma Rousseff’s planned visit to Washington in October and opposed awarding the United States the multibillion-dollar deal to overhaul the Brazilian Air Force’s fleet of fighter jets.

Boeing is competing with its F/A-18 Super Hornet against France’s Rafale made by Dassault Aviation and Sweden’s Gripen made by Saab to win a contract worth at least $4 billion, with probable follow-up orders that would greatly increase the value of the contract over time.

** CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP, Monday close $25.02

Four executives at Chesapeake, including Chief Operating Officer Steve Dixon, are leaving as part of a reorganization of the U.S. oil and gas company’s leadership, Chief Executive Doug Lawler said in a memo on Monday.

** HEALTH MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES INC, Monday close $13.24

** COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS INC, Monday close $43.75

Activist investor Glenview Capital Management said on Monday that a majority of shareholders in Health Management Associates have voted to oust the U.S. hospital chain’s board and replace it with Glenview’s slate of directors, throwing a wrench into HMA’s plans to be acquired by Community Health Systems.

** AROTECH CORP, Monday close $1.79, up 25 pct premarket

The company, which makes interactive simulation, batteries and charging systems used by the military, reported a net profit for the third consecutive quarter after eight straight quarters of losses. This indicates that the company is firmly on the road to sustainable profits.

Arotech also raised its full year revenue forecast to $87 million-$89 million from $85 million-$87 million.

** SINA CORP, Monday close $80.35, up 6 pct premarket

The Chinese internet company forecast current-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates and reported better-than-expected results on Monday as advertising revenue rose due to its social networking site Weibo.

“Although the macro-economic conditions in China remain uncertain, our strategy to diversify Sina’s revenue stream to beyond big-brand advertisers and to leverage Weibo’s continued traffic growth to develop social and mobile advertising...is placing Sina in a good position for more profitable revenue growth,” Chief Executive Charles Chao said in a statement.

Brokerage Brean Capital raised on Tuesday its price target on the stock to $99 from $68.

** DELL INC, Monday close $13.73

A legal battle between activist investor Carl Icahn and computer magnate Michael Dell has been delayed until Friday, with a court setting a hearing then on Icahn’s contention that Dell’s bid to buy back Dell Inc is “an insult to shareholders.”

** FACEBOOK INC, Monday close $38.22

** OPENTABLE INC, Monday close $74.08

Facebook struck a deal with online restaurant booking service OpenTable that will allow users to reserve tables at restaurants via a Facebook app, as the world’s No. 1 social network continues to expand its mobile services.

** IHS INC, Monday close $115.91

The publisher of Jane’s Defence Weekly raised its forecast for the year ending Nov. 30 to account for its purchase of R.L. Polk & Co, owner of used-car history provider Carfax, and said it would continue to look for small acquisitions.

** USA COMPRESSION PARTNERS LP, Monday close $25.22

The provider of natural gas compression services said it acquired 983 compression units in Texas and Oklahoma from S&R Compression LLC for about $187 million.

S&R Compression is controlled by Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser’s investment arm.

USA Compression said on Tuesday that it expects the acquisition to immediately add to its cash flow. The company raised its adjusted core earnings and distributable cash flow forecasts for the year. (Compiled by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

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