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U.S. stocks opened flat on Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 climbed to its highest level of the year and ahead of a meeting of euro zone finance ministers to discuss plans for Greece’s debt. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.32 percent at 17,811.25, the S&P 500 was down 0.10 percent at 2,066.46 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.16 percent at 4,795.19.
** PEPSICO INC, $99.78, +1.83 pct
The beverage maker reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, driven by a 3 percent rise in revenue at its North American snack business.
** AOL INC, $39.15, -12.67 pct
The digital media company said 2015 revenue will be hurt in the first half of the year by a sales force realignment. The company added that in 2015, it expects revenue for its membership group to decline in the high single digits in percentage terms, while domestic display revenue is expected to decline in the high single digits in first half of the year before rebounding in the second half.
** ADVAXIS INC, $7.55, +7.55 pct
The company said it would collaborate with Incyte Corp to test a combination of Advaxis’ immunotherapy, ADXS-HPV, and Incyte’s epacadostat, for use in cervical cancer
** GENWORTH FINANCIAL INC, $8.49, +8.71 pct
The U.S. life and mortgage insurer reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss as it took an after-tax charge of $478 million related to long-term care (LTC) policies it bought before 1996.
** BALLARD POWER SYSTEMS INC, $2.6399, +56.21 pct
The company signed an $80 million deal with Volkswagen Group to transfer fuel cell intellectual property. It also extended the long-term engineering services agreement signed in 2013 through March 2019.
** RITE AID CORP, $8.34, +10.03 pct
The drugstore operator said it would buy pharmacy benefit manager EnvisionRx for about $2 billion, to enter the business of administering drug benefits for employers.
** TIME WARNER INC, $81.44, +0.78 pct
The company reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher subscription fees for channels offered by Turner Broadcasting and HBO.
** AKAMAI TECHNOLOGIES INC, $64.25, +3.28 pct
The internet content delivery service provider reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and revenue late on Tuesday as demand jumped for security products and its mainstay content delivery businesses.
** INTERXION HOLDING NV, $32.57, +16.32 pct
British data center provider Telecity Group Plc has agreed a non-binding $2.2 billion all-share deal to buy New York-listed Interxion, looking to tap growing demand for “cloud” technology.
** ZOETIS INC, $46.02, +4.81 pct
The animal health company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, which Jefferies & Co says was due to a lower-than-expected tax rate.
The company cut its 2015 revenue forecast, which now largely matches Wall Street estimates, to reflect the forex impact and completion of an acquisition.
** ONCOLYTICS BIOTECH INC, $0.5136, +9.28 pct
The Canadian biotech company said the U.S. FDA granted its lead drug, reolysin, orphan drug status for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
** BELLATRIX EXPLORATION LTD, $2.42, +9.01 pct
Prominent hedge fund manager Seth Klarman bought 21.8 million shares of the company, representing an 11.4 percent stake, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday. (1.usa.gov/1ISluIa)
** CHICO‘S FAS INC, $18.35, +6.38 pct
Private equity firm Sycamore Partners is in talks to buy the women’s apparel retailer and is trying to secure debt financing of up to $3 billion, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
** PIER 1 IMPORTS INC, $11.89, -29.94 pct
The furniture retailer forecast 2015 profit below analysts’ expectations, citing weak sales in January and February and higher supply chain costs.
** ACHILLION PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $11.11, -3.18 pct
The biotech company said it would offer about 10 million shares of common stock, but did not disclose the expected price.
** TESLA MOTORS INC, $209.28, -3.24 pct
Chief Executive Elon Musk is prepared to fire overseas executives, people with knowledge of the matter said, after weak Chinese sales of the company’s luxury electric cars cast doubt on his ambitious global expansion plans.
** ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC, $64.21, -1.43 pct
The United Steelworkers union said lead oil company negotiator Royal Dutch Shell failed to bring experts and information as promised when talks ended last week. A Shell spokeswoman said on Tuesday night that the firm was working “in a good faith effort to collect the requested data”.
** COCA-COLA CO, $41.79, -1.44 pct
The world’s largest beverage maker raised the overall prices it charges its retail customers in North America 4 percent in the latest quarter, the company said on Tuesday, a signal to industry watchers that soft-drink rival PepsiCo probably raised prices too.
** HALLIBURTON CO, $41.85, -1.76 pct
** BAKER HUGHES INC, $61.03, -1.66 pct
U.S. antitrust regulators have asked the oilfield services companies for more information related to their proposed $35 billion merger, the companies said on Tuesday.
** WESTERN UNION CO, $17.99, -2.23 pct
The world’s largest money transfer company said it would cut prices for money transfers within the United States to help fend off fierce competition and would buy back up to $1.2 billion of shares.
** SANGAMO BIOSCIENCES INC, $13.4, +5.76 pct
The biotechnology company’s fourth-quarter revenue was $15 million, compared with the average analyst estimate of $14.5 million, helped by payments from deals with companies such as Shire, Biogen Idec, Dow AgroSciences, and Sigma Aldrich.
** GILEAD SCIENCES INC, $99.98, +1.69 pct
The drugmaker said on Tuesday that it expects the number of hepatitis C patients treated in Europe with its Sovaldi drug to increase dramatically this year, and that approvals for the newer combination pill, Harvoni, could come quickly.
** APPLE INC, $123.52, +1.23 pct
** FIRST SOLAR INC, $49.35, +1.67 pct
The iPhone maker will buy about $850 million of power from a new California solar farm to cut its energy bill, it said on Tuesday as its stock market value closed above $700 billion for the first time.
The First Solar plant, with the capacity to power the equivalent of 60,000 homes, will be used to supply electricity for Apple’s new campus in Silicon Valley, and its other offices and 52 stores in the state, Chief Executive Tim Cook said at a Goldman Sachs technology conference in San Francisco.
** MOLINA HEALTHCARE INC, $57.73, +2.61 pct
The company reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, helped by an increase in premiums.
** TARO PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES, $166.6, +1.90 pct
Taro’s margins increased by 70 basis points to a record of 81.4 percent, beating estimates. (Compiled by Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)