(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. stocks advanced on Monday, boosted by a number of major acquisitions, though gains were slight with key indexes continuing to hover around records. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.09 percent at 16,939.02, the S&P 500 was up 0.11 percent at 1,951.55 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 6.14 points, or 0.14 percent, at 4,327.54
** TIME INC, $23.12, -1.53 pct
** TIME WARNER INC, $69.05, +1.34 pct
Time Inc, home to titles such as People, Sports Illustrated and Time, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange at a time when the U.S. magazines lose readers to digital alternatives. Time Inc is the latest in a series of spinoffs by Time Warner, most notably of AOL Inc and Time Warner Cable Inc, following the disastrous merger of Time Warner and AOL in 2000.
** TYSON FOODS INC, $38.05, -5.16 pct
** HILLSHIRE BRANDS CO, $61.98, +5.19 pct
** PILGRIM’S PRIDE CORP, $24.57, -6.47 pct
Tyson Foods prevailed over Pilgrim’s Pride in a bidding war between meat processors over Hillshire Brands, with an increased offer valuing the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages at $8.55 billion including debt.
** FAMILY DOLLAR STORES INC, $68.66, +13.43 pct
** DOLLAR GENERAL CORP, $63.297, +9.15 pct
Family Dollar Stores adopted a poison pill to buy time to consider any possible deal that activist investor Carl Icahn could push for after becoming its largest shareholder.
** ARCOS DORADOS HOLDINGS INC, $10.34, +7.60 pct
BofA Merrill Lynch raised its rating on the world’s largest McDonald’s franchisee to “buy” from “underperform”, according to theflyonthewall.com.
** MERCK & CO INC, $57.84, -0.02 pct
** IDENIX PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $23.96, +231.40 pct
** ACHILLION PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $4.74, +64.58 pct
** GILEAD SCIENCES INC, $78.86, -4.28 pct
Merck & Co said Monday it would buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals for $3.85 billion and plans to combine the two companies’ most promising drugs to produce a faster, more effective cure for hepatitis C.
Shares of Achillion Pharmaceuticals, another maker of hepatitis C drugs, also rose on the news.
Shares of Gilead Sciences the maker of the current market leading hepatitis C treatment, Sovaldi, also fell on the news.
** ANALOG DEVICES INC, $55.42, +5.18 pct
** HITTITE MICROWAVE CORP, $77.93, +28.68 pct
Analog Devices said it would buy Hittite Microwave in a deal valued at $2 billion to strengthen its radio frequency and signal conversion chip offerings.
** MORGAN STANLEY, $32.2, -2.91 pct
** NGL ENERGY PARTNERS LP, $43.199, +3.05 pct
Morgan Stanley is selling its controlling stake in oil pipeline company TransMontaigne Inc to NGL Energy Partners LP for $200 million, essentially ending its long run as the biggest physical oil trader on Wall Street.
** ZENDESK INC, $16.47, +7.02 pct
Two brokerages, Canaccord Genuity and Pacific Crest Securities, began coverage on the customer service software maker’s stock with “buy” or equivalent ratings. Four brokerages began coverage on the stock with target prices above the trading price of the company’s shares.
** PROGENICS PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $3.73, +7.80 pct
** NEKTAR THERAPEUTICS, $12.391, +10.73 pct
U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers are set to vote this week on whether more clinical trials are needed to assess cardiovascular risk in a class of drugs used to treat opioid-induced chronic constipation.
** CENTRAL GARDEN & PET CO, $8.53, +8.80 pct
** HARBINGER GROUP INC, $12.215, +2.30 pct
Harbinger, the owner of Spectrum Brands and an investor in Central Garden, delivered a letter to the board of the supplier of the pet and garden products to consider a potential sale.
** DORAL FINANCIAL CORP, $4.22, +21.61 pct
The lender said its dispute with the Puerto Rican government over a tax refund will be heard on an expedited basis by the territory’s courts. The court ruled Friday that an evidentiary hearing must happen by Thursday and a judgment must be issued by June 26.
The company filed the lawsuit last week after the territory’s Treasury Department rejected a request for a about$230 million tax refund.
** CANCER GENETICS INC, $11.65, +3.28 pct
The cancer diagnostics company said it entered into an agreement with British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc to perform complex testing for diagnosis and prognosis of cancer patients in Central America and the Caribbean. The partnership is expected to initially focus on lung cancer trials, Cancer Genetics said on Monday.
** NEUSTAR INC, $24.6, -7.76 pct
Neustar could lose a phone contract to rival Ericsson , media reports said citing an e-mail made public on a government website. The company routes phone calls and manages databases used by North American telecom carriers. (link.reuters.com/byz89v)
** TRAVELCENTERS OF AMERICA LLC, $8.98, +10.18 pct
The operator of travel centers along the U.S. interstate highways reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit mainly on account of an income tax benefit.
** MELCO CROWN ENTERTAINMENT LTD, $30.82, -5.31 pct
** WYNN MACAU LTD, $198.67, -3.08 pct
** LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP, $72.62, -2.46 pct
** MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL, $24.46, -2.70 pct
Union Gaming Research Macau downgraded all Macau-gaming stocks it covers to “hold” citing more than a dozen negative factors - including slowdown in the VIP sector, negative macro China data points, removal of UnionPay kiosks from casinos, ban on smoking within casinos starting Oct. 6, and the upcoming football World Cup that will see more customers staying at their homes.
“We expect to see a string of negative headlines over the coming months that will keep pressure on shares and believe there is greater risk to the downside than the upside - even after considering recent performance,” Union Gaming Research said in a note.
** RITCHIE BROS AUCTIONEERS INC, $24.13, +4.14 pct
Cantor Fitzgerald raised its rating on the stock to “buy” from “hold”, citing the growth in the company’s auction proceeds. “Momentum is building in auction proceeds providing us greater confidence that Ritchie Bros. can achieve the higher end of its 2014 guidance and continue accelerating into 2015,” analysts at the brokerage said in note to clients.
** PHARMACYCLICS INC, $97.02, +3.76 pct
The biotechnology company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepted its application to broaden the use of its cancer drug, Imbruvica, and set a review date of Oct. 7 for the new indication.
If approved, the drug’s label will expand to include improvement in survival without the disease worsening and overall survival in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma, who have received at least one prior therapy.
Imbruvica is currently approved for use in previously treated patients with mantle cell lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia based on overall response rate.
** MAXIMUS INC, $43.1, -6.47 pct
Raymond James analysts downgraded the company’s stock rating to “market perform” from “outperform”, saying that after a strong run over the past year, Maximus’ earnings momentum will wane in 2015 and growth will moderate as some one-time Affordable Care Act related work abates.
Reston, Virginia-based Maximus provides business processing services to government health and human services agencies in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
** AUTOHOME INC, $34.67, -2.91 pct
The Chinese automobile information website’s six-month “lockup” - the period after the initial public offering during which early investors are barred from selling their shares - ended Saturday. (Reporting By Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)