(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. stocks edged lower at the open on Friday as investors grappled with uncertainty over ongoing negotiations for a debt deal in Greece.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.15 percent at 17,958.96, the S&P 500 was down 0.11 percent at 2,095.2 and the Nasdaq Composite was unchanged at 4,924.935.
** WAL-MART STORES INC, $82.73, -0.95 pct
Barclays cuts its rating on the stock of the world’s largest retailer to “equal weight” from “overweight”.
The brokerage said the acceleration in U.S. comparable store sales in Q4 was mainly due to lower gas prices and easy weather comparisons, both of which are unlikely to be factors this year. The company’s investments in ecommerce have yielded moderating sales growth, while the benefits of training are unlikely to offset the higher expenses near term
“WMT is not pulling any other levers, like cost-cutting or stock buybacks, that would offset these hits to earnings ... Yet the stock has had a good run since the company’s analyst meeting in October 2014, and given where the stock is trading now (17.2x) on our new FY16 EPS of $4.85 and the absence of any positive near-term catalysts, we cannot see what moves the stock higher.”
** COLLABRX INC, $1.22, -35.45 pct
The healthcare data analytics company’s offering of 3.84 million shares was priced at $1.25 per share, while the exercise price of warrants to buy up to 3.84 million shares was set at $1.56 apiece, exercisable immediately. CollabRx expects gross proceeds of about $4.8 million.
The stock has swung wildly this week, falling about 23 and 19 percent on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before soaring 66 percent on Thursday.
** FANNIE MAE, $2.97, -2.94 pct
Fannie Mae will make its smallest payment to taxpayers in more than four years years after large derivatives losses crimped its fourth-quarter profit, the government-controlled mortgage financier said on Friday.
** NOODLES & CO, $20.1711, -27.29 pct
The fast-casual restaurant chain operator’s holiday-quarter results and 2015 adjusted profit forecast was short of analysts’ average estimates.
Robert W. Baird & Co cut its rating to “neutral” from “outperform” and Janney Capital Markets cut to “neutral” from “buy”. Six others lowered price targets and Barclays cuts to $20, the lowest.
Barclays said, “Unfortunately, 4Q14 results disappointed top to bottom, likely leading to significant underperformance today, and not unlike two of the past three quarters. And looking to ‘15, while EPS growth guidance was tempered, it still calls for 20 percent growth, which appears aggressive.”
** ROCKET FUEL INC, $11.21, -24.10 pct
The web-based video advertising provider’s fourth-quarter revenue was below market expectations as, according to Evercore ISI, the contribution from the recently acquired X+1 was “not enough to offset accelerating declines in core growth.”
The company also forecast current-quarter adjusted EBITDA to be a loss of $18-$19 million, much wider than analysts’ estimates of a loss of $2.9 million.
Needham & Co downgraded to “hold” from “buy”. Evercore more than halved its price target to $8 from $19, while Oppenheimer cut its rating to “perform”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** ANN INC, $36.99, +5.44 pct
The owner of the Ann Taylor and Loft women’s clothing stores is exploring a sale and has reached out to potential buyers, Bloomberg said, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Ann Inc was valued at $1.6 billion as of Thursday’s close. Ann entered into confidentiality agreement with private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in October, after some hedge funds pushed for sale.
** IVANHOE ENERGY, $0.3801, -45.70 pct
The Canadian oil and gas company said it intended to file for bankruptcy. The company said it would continue to pursue strategic alternatives, including restructuring its debt, selling assets, and added that it was in talks with various stakeholders to recapitalize the company.
Ivanhoe has said in December that it was exploring a sale of the company and that it could default on an interest payment of about C$2.1 million due on Dec. 31.
** CALIFORNIA RESOURCES CORP, $7.12, +6.27 pct
The oil and gas producer slashed its 2015 capital budget by nearly 80 percent to $400-$450 million compared with 2014. The company said it has reduced rig count to three rigs for 2015, down from 27 rigs by the end of last November.
** SPRINT CORP, $4.81, -1.43 pct
Sprint and iHeart Communications priced benchmark-sized drive-by deals in the US high-yield bond market on Thursday, both trades upsized amid solid demand from return-hungry investors.
** ARISTA NETWORKS INC, $73.32, +7.84 pct
The cloud networking software maker reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter adjusted profit and revenue and forecast first-quarter revenue largely above estimates, which Barclays said suggests that the impact of the Cisco lawsuit is minimal - at least near term.
“In short, we continue to believe fundamentals in data center switching are healthy and view Arista as a share gainer over a multi-year time frame,” said the brokerage. Barclays and Cowen & Co raised their price targets on the stock.
** TRUECAR INC, $20.03, -3.56 pct
JMP Securities attributed the shares fall to the online car shopping service provider’s in-line fourth-quarter results, decelerating average monthly unique user growth and the likelihood that the cost-per-car-sold increases about $10-$15 this year, shares fell.
But, the brokerage said it “would take advantage of any material weakness in the stock”, reiterating its “market outperform” rating and boosted its price target to $24 from $23. JMP pointed to the company’s continued market share gains, strong unit growth at TrueCar.com and improved marketing efficiency.
** MEI PHARMA INC, $5.35, +6.15 pct
Bank of America Merrill Lynch started coverage of the drug developer’s stock with a “buy” rating and a $9 price target. Analysts see significant opportunity for the company in indications like leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.
** NOVATEL WIRELESS INC, $5.27, +4.36 pct
The wireless network gear provider posted fourth-quarter profit and revenue above estimates, helped by higher sales of its mobile computing products. The company forecasts first-quarter revenue above estimates. Canaccord Genuity raised its price target on the stock to $5 from $3.
** FIESTA RESTAURANT GROUP INC, $66.2, -1.18 pct
The operator of the Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical restaurants on Thursday reported fourth-quarter revenue and profit that topped analysts’ expectations.
“Development continues to materialize quicker than anticipated,” said Jefferies & Co. Wedbush Securities expects Pollo Tropical comparable restaurant sales to beat estimates in 2015, driven by menu changes and remodeling of restaurants.
Both brokerages were among four who raised their price target on the stock.
** DEERE & CO, $91.18, -0.58 pct
The farm equipment maker posted a 43 percent fall in first-quarter profit and cut its full-year profit forecast as lower corn prices and weak farm income weighed on demand for agricultural machinery.
** NEWMONT MINING CORP, $25.22, +3.11 pct
The U.S.’s largest gold producer reported on Thursday a narrower adjusted fourth quarter profit, though earnings were stronger than expected.
** NORDSTROM INC, $78.07, +1.21 pct
The upscale department store operator reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as it spent more on technology upgrades and store expansion, and increased discounts at its Rack brand stores in the holiday shopping season.
JP Morgan lowered the target price on company’s stock to $76 from $80; Cowen & Co lowered target price to $87 from $91.
** INTUIT INC, $95.445, +4.76 pct
The company reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss due to a strong demand for its online tax-preparation software, TurboTax, at the start of the U.S. tax-filing season. (Compiled by Neha Dimri in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)