October 24, 2013 / 1:17 PM / 5 years ago

MARKET PULSE-Altria, Equinix, McKesson, Starwood Hotels, Ziopharm

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Oct 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced on Thursday, indicating the S&P 500 will rebound from its first decline in the last six sessions, ahead of labor market and manufacturing data and a slew of corporate earnings. S&P 500 futures were up 6.4 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 were up 67 points and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 11.75 points.

** FORD MOTOR CO, Wednesday close $17.52, up 3.4 pct premarket

The U.S. automaker boosted its full-year global earnings and margin outlook on Thursday, helped by an improved forecast in Europe and better-than-expected results in the third quarter.

** RIGEL PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Wednesday close $3.54, down 8.5 pct premarket

The company said it would stop the development of its drug to treat skin lesions in patients with discoid lupus, a chronic skin disease, after the treatment failed a mid-stage trial.

** F5 NETWORKS INC, Wednesday close $89.31, up 4 pct premarket

The network gear maker posted stronger-than-expected quarterly results as demand rose for its new data traffic management products but said its gross margins may suffer over the next year as it invests more in its consulting business.

** EQUINIX INC, Wednesday close $168.65, up 7.9 pct premarket

The data center operator reported better-than-expected third-quarter results on Wednesday as it won new contracts in its cloud business, including with Microsoft’s Azure. The company also forecast current-quarter revenue largely above analysts’ estimates.

** STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS WORLDWIDE INC, Wednesday close $70.45, up 3.6 pct premarket

The operator of Sheraton hotels reported quarterly earnings above analysts’ expectations due to higher travel demand in North America. “We remain bullish on the long-term trends of rising wealth and increasing demand for travel in fast growing economies, even in the face of slower growth in China, unrest in the Middle East, and economic challenges in Latin America,” Chief Executive Frits van Paasschen said in a statement.

** CHEESECAKE FACTORY INC, Wednesday close $42.81, up 3.9 pct premarket

The company on Wednesday reported higher quarterly profit after sales at its established namesake restaurants rose more than expected and the company said it grabbed market share from rivals.

** CABELA’S INC, Wednesday close $62.39, down 2 pct premarket

The specialty retailer of hunting, fishing and other outdoor merchandise reported third-quarter results that missed analysts’ estimates, hurt by a deceleration in ammunition sales and the overall weakness in U.S. consumer spending. The company also said it expects comparable store sales to decline at a mid-single digit range in the fourth quarter.

** ALTRIA GROUP INC, Wednesday close $36.38, up 1 pct premarket

The holding company of cigarette-maker Philip Morris International Inc reported third-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates on strong sales of both its smokeable and smokeless products. The company also reaffirmed its 2013 earnings guidance.

** FORTINET INC, Wednesday close $20.56, up 7 pct premarket

The network security software maker reported quarterly results above analysts’ estimates, helped by strong demand for support services and higher software renewals.

** GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC, Wednesday close $157.74, up 1.4 pct premarket

The company is working to bolster performance in fixed-income trading after a weak third quarter, and is looking for experienced salespeople and traders to improve the business, President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Wednesday. [ID: nL1N0ID1ZA]

** LAZARD LTD, Wednesday close $37.69,

The investment bank reported a better-than-expected 81 percent jump in quarterly profit due mainly to higher revenue in its asset management unit, which now accounts for more than half of its business.

** COLGATE-PALMOLIVE CO, Wednesday close $63.47, down 0.3 pct premarket

The company posted slightly higher third-quarter earnings on Thursday as it spent more on advertising to promote products including new versions of its well-known toothpaste.

** CONMED CORP, Wednesday close $37.66

The surgical devices maker forecast weaker-than-expected annual results, as it expects effects of medical device tax and less favorable foreign exchange rates to cost about 20 cents per share this year.

** ZIOPHARM ONCOLOGY INC, Wednesday close $4.02, down 7 pct premarket

The drug developer said its common stock offering of 14.3 million shares is priced at $3.50 per share, which represents a discount of 13 percent to the stock’s Wednesday close.

** MCKESSON CORP, Wednesday close $143.05, up 7 pct premarket

The pharmaceutical wholesaler agreed to buy German peer Celesio AG on Thursday for $8.3 billion, including debt, forging a global market leader in drugs distribution to boost its purchasing power with pharma majors.

** RR DONNELLEY & SONS CO, Wednesday close $16.69, up 2.8 pct premarket

The printing services company said it will buy Consolidated Graphics Inc for about $620 million in a cash-and-stock deal, to expand its footprint in the commercial printing market. The deal is expected to add to RR Donnelley’s adjusted earnings within 12 months of the deal, which is estimated to close in the first quarter of 2014.

** CHEVRON CORP, Wednesday close $120.13, down 0.1 pct after market

A former Ecuadorean judge testified on Wednesday that he ghost-wrote rulings for a judge who ordered Chevron Corp to pay $19 billion to villagers whose land had been polluted by oil exploration. The former judge testified at a trial in New York in which Chevron accuses U.S. lawyer Steven Donziger of bribing the Ecuadorean judges to win the award for the villagers.

** AGNICO EAGLE MINES LTD, Wednesday close $25.86, up 6.7 pct premarket

The company on Wednesday reported a 56 percent decline in third-quarter profit due to lower realized metal prices as well as a maintenance shutdown at its Kittila mine in Finland, but it beat analysts’ estimates, and raised its full-year production forecast while lowering cost expectations.

** WAL-MART STORES INC, Wednesday close $75.90, up 0.5 pct premarket

The world’s biggest retailer said it is expanding its China business as it seeks to raise profitability in a slowing retail sector. Wal-Mart will open up to 110 facilities in China between 2014 and 2016, in addition to the 30 it has already opened this year, it said at a press event in Beijing on Thursday.

** VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS INC, Wednesday close $78.52, down 7.1 pct after market

The medical device maker reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results as demand for its products fell due to uncertainties related to U.S. healthcare reforms and reimbursement cuts.

** OMNICARE INC, Wednesday close $54.23, down 0.4 pct premarket

The U.S. provider of pharmacy services to the elderly, has agreed to pay the U.S. government $120 million to settle allegations the company gave nursing homes steep discounts on prescription drugs in exchange for patient referrals.

** BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP, Wednesday close $12.29, down 3.1 pct premarket

The medical device maker plans to cut up to 1,500 jobs in its latest restructuring effort that aims to save $150 million to $200 million in operating expenses by the end of 2015, the company announced in a regulatory filing.

** TRIQUINT SEMICONDUCTOR INC, Wednesday close $8.31, down 11 pct premarket

The company forecast current-quarter results well below Wall Street expectations, partly due to lower revenue from embattled smartphone company BlackBerry Ltd .

** HEWLETT-PACKARD CO, Wednesday close $23.76, up 0.8 pct premarket

The company is seeking buyers for some of its mobile-computing patents, Bloomberg reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter. The company has approached potential buyers about the portfolio of patents, which include those related to webOS - the smartphone and tablet-computer operating system that HP acquired through its 2010 buy of Palm Inc, people told the agency.

** AT&T INC, Wednesday close $35.28, up 0.1 pct premarket

The company reported net income that was a penny ahead of Wall Street expectations on Wednesday on wireless profit margins that were better than some analysts expected.

** UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP, Wednesday close $106.39, up 0.7 pct premarket

The Pentagon on Wednesday announced it had finalized a $1.1 billion contract with Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies, to build 38 engines for a sixth batch of F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

** SYMANTEC CORP, Wednesday close $24.62, down 12.7 pct premarket

The maker of Norton anti-virus software, reported lower-than-expected second-quarter revenue and forecast current-quarter results below expectations, hit by low demand for storage and security products and a weak PC market.

** AKAMAI TECHNOLOGIES INC, Wednesday close $51.87, down 9.4 pct premarket

The company, whose products help move content quickly over the Internet, forecast current-quarter revenue largely below analyst estimates, citing the uncertain outcome of contract renegotiations with its biggest media client - widely thought to be Apple Inc. [ID: nL3N0ID4L3]

** PULTEGROUP INC, Wednesday close $16.68, up 2.8 pct premarket

THe No.2 homebuilder said new home orders fell 17 percent in the third quarter, but gross margins expanded 3.9 percent helping it beat analysts’ estimates by 9 cents.

** GENERAL DYNAMICS CORP, Wednesday close $86.23

The maker of Gulfstream business jets and U.S. Navy warships, reported higher earnings and operating margins for the third quarter despite a dip in revenue, and nudged its full-year earnings forecast higher. [ID: nL1N0ID0H2]

** POTASH CORP, Wednesday close $31.70, down 1.4 pct premarket

The world’s biggest fertilizer producer reduced its outlook for full-year earnings more than Wall Street expected, as buyers backed away from the key fertilizer ingredient potash due to uncertainty caused by the breakup of rival Belarusian Potash Co.

** XEROX CORP, Wednesday close $10.73, down 6.7 pct premarket

The company forecast adjusted earnings for the current quarter below analysts’ estimates as it expects to take charges related to restructuring in its services business.

** ALEXION PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Wednesday close $109.66, up 2 pct premarket

The drugmaker said the U.S. health regulator granted a breakthrough therapy designation to its experimental treatment for patients with a rare, genetic, metabolic disorder that causes irreversible neurological damage in newborns.

The designation expedites the development of a drug that aims to treat life-threatening diseases, where initial clinical data indicates the treatment may be better than existing options.

The company also reported third-quarter earnings of 83 cents per share that beat wall street estimates, and raised its full-year earnings and revenue forecast to reflect a growing demand for its drug Soliris, used to treat a rare blood disorder.

** MERIT MEDICAL SYSTEMS INC, Wednesday close $13.97, up 12 pct after market

The medical device maker reported third-quarter revenue which beat analysts’ estimates, due to higher sales of its cardiovascular devices, including catheters and stand-alone devices.

** DUNKIN’ BRANDS GROUP INC, Wednesday close $47.95, down 3.2 pct premarket

The coffee and doughnut chain reported a stronger-than-expected rise in quarterly sales as customers bought more of its higher-priced sandwiches.

** COLGATE-PALMOLIVE CO, Wednesday close $63.47, up 2.3 pct premarket

The company posted a slightly higher quarterly profit on Thursday as it spent more on advertising to promote products including new versions of its well-known toothpaste.

** DOW CHEMICAL CO, Wednesday close $41.04, down 3.5 pct premarket

The company which is looking to exit businesses that are exposed to commodity price swings, said it planned to raise at least $3 billion to $4 billion from asset sales.

** RAYTHEON CO, Wednesday close $78.49, up 1.3 pct premarket

The company sees “tremendous opportunities” for international bookings in the fourth quarter of 2013, and is hopeful that U.S. lawmakers will resolve the U.S. budget crisis in coming months, Chief Financial Officer Dave Wasjgras said.

** FORTINET INC, Wednesday close $20.56, up 8.5 pct premarket

The network security software maker reported quarterly results above analysts’ estimates, helped by strong demand for support services and higher software renewals.

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