U.S. stocks rose on Friday, as a weak reading on the labor market was partly blamed on the weather and initial disappointment was replaced with expectations of further economic strength. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.41 percent at 15,691.97, the S&P 500 was up 0.63 percent at 1,784.65 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.03 percent at 4,098.822.
** LINKEDIN CORP, $207.33, -7.21 pct
The company delivered revenue forecasts that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, deflating hopes that the high-flying professional social network can sustain its growth streak.
** APPLE INC, $520.205, +1.50 pct
The company has repurchased $14 billion of its stock in the two weeks since it reported disappointing first-quarter results, a company spokesman said. Apple bought $12 billion of shares via an accelerated share repurchase program and $2 billion of shares from the open market, the spokesman said.
** GT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES INC, $10.17, +7.62 pct
Apple Inc is closer to mass producing mobile devices with sapphire screens made by GT Advanced, technology website CNET reported. (link.reuters.com/juw66v)
Displays made of sapphire could make Apple’s products scratch-resistant and nearly unbreakable.
Apple said in November that it would open a manufacturing facility in Arizona in partnership with GT Advanced to make mineral crystal equipment for consumer electronics.
** TWITTER, $52.75, +5.44 pct
The social media company’s shares rose after falling 24 percent on Thursday as the company reported near-flat user growth and a drop in engagement among its 241 million members.
** CIGNA CORP, $77.89, -8.76 pct
The company, which provides health and other insurance, reported a lower fourth-quarter profit as medical costs in its private Medicare business came in higher than anticipated, and the U.S. insurer gave a 2014 earnings outlook below analysts’ estimates.
** YAHOO INC, $36.775, +1.48 pct
The company is shifting its main European tax base to Ireland from Switzerland, a Reuters examination of company statements and accounts shows, as pressure mounts on the Alpine nation to abolish some corporate tax incentives.
** MOODY’S CORP, $80.49, +4.85 pct
The credit rating agency reported better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter, helped by higher revenue from its analytics division. Moody’s analytics division sells financial research, data and software for assessing risk.
The company also said it expected to earn $3.90-$4.00 per share for 2014. Analysts on an average were expecting earnings of $3.91 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** GAP INC, $42.14, +6.12 pct
The company, known for its Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic brands, reported a 1 percent rise in January same-store sales on Thursday, beating analysts’ estimates of a 1.3 percent decline.
Gap also estimated fourth-quarter earnings above analysts’ expectations.
At least four brokerages raised their price targets on the company’s stock on Friday.
** AARON’S INC, $30.35, +12.20 pct
Vintage Capital Management, the largest shareholder of the company, said it offered to acquire Aaron’s in a deal valued at about $2.3 billion, in its fourth attempt to buy the consumer electronics and furniture rental chain since 2011.
** SMART TECHNOLOGIES INC, $3.2, +34.45 pct
The Canadian education software maker reported better-than-expected results for the third quarter as it sold its interactive displays at higher prices.
Excluding items, the company earned 7 cents per share on revenue of $143.4 million. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 1 cent per share on revenue of $114.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Brokerage RBC raised its price target on the company’s Nasdaq-listed stock to $3.25 from $2.50.
** URANIUM RESOURCES INC, $2.92, -15.12 pct
The uranium company said it would issue about 4 million shares at $2.60 per share. The price represents a 24 percent discount to the stock’s Thursday close of $3.44.
The company said it would use the proceeds from the offering to fund three projects in New Mexico.
** ARROWHEAD RESEARCH CORP, $15.97, +9.83 pct
Jefferies analyst Mark Wiltamuth doubled his price target on the nanomedicine company’s stock to $30, saying he expects mid-year data on Arrowhead’s experimental hepatitis B drug, ARC520, to drive “significant upside.”
“ARWR is one of our top picks for 2014 based on the value of its RNAi platform and our increasingly positive stance on ARC520,” Wiltamuth wrote in a note.
** BEBE STORES INC, $5.6, +18.39 pct
The women’s apparel retailer reported better-than-expected quarterly results as new merchandise at its stores attracted more customers in December.
Bebe posted a second-quarter loss of 7 cents per share, smaller than the average analyst estimate of a loss of 14 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Brokerage Janney Capital Markets raised its fair value on the retailer’s stock to $5.50 from $5, saying it expects the company’s strategy of focusing on improved merchandise and a lean inventory to work in its favor.
** KIRKLAND’S INC, $17.79, -0.95 pct
The specialty home decor retailer estimated lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results, hurt by reduced customer walk-ins at its stores in December due to severe winter weather.
The retailer also estimated full-year earnings of 79-81 cents per share, below the average analyst estimate of 89 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** ON SEMICONDUCTOR CORP, $9.1, +9.38 pct
The power-management chipmaker reported better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter on Thursday and forecast current-quarter revenue largely above analysts’ estimates.
At least five brokerages raised their price targets on the stock.
** PUMA BIOTECHNOLOGY INC, $119, +14.75 pct
The biopharmaceutical company said on Thursday that the European Patent Office upheld the claims in Puma’s licensed European patent, EP 1848414, that were being opposed by German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH.
** VERISIGN INC, $51.79, -6.55 pct
Brokerage Citigroup cut its rating on company's stock to "sell" from "neutral," according to Benzinga.com. (link.reuters.com/tyw66v)
Verisign is the issuer of .com and .net Internet domain names.
** LIQUIDITY SERVICES INC, $24.7, +16.02 pct
The online auctioneer reported better-than-expected results for the first quarter, helped by higher revenue from its retail supply chain and municipal goverment businesses, and the company forecast 2014 adjusted profit above analysts’ estimates.
** FAIRWAY GROUP HOLDINGS CORP, $8.2, -28.26 pct
The fresh foods retailer reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter results on Thursday and said its quarterly same-store sales fell 1.7 percent due to a shorter holiday shopping period.
The company also said Chief Executive Herbert Ruetsch was retiring and named William Sanford as interim-CEO.
BB&T Capital Markets cut its rating on the retailer’s stock to “hold” from “buy,” saying the company’s forecast of high-single digit sales growth for 2015 was below its estimate.
** ACTIVISION BLIZZARD INC, $19.8, +15.32 pct
The largest U.S. videogame publisher reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter income due to strong sales of its “Call of Duty” titles during the holidays. The company believes its coming action game “Destiny” will become its next billion-dollar franchise, Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick said in a statement.
** ARIAD PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $8.1099, +13.11 pct
A large shareholder is seeking to get at least two board seats at the drugmaker, which is grappling with safety concerns involving its leukemia drug Iclusig, according to people familiar with the matter.
** LABORATORY CORP OF AMERICA HOLDINGS, $88.54, -1.97 pct
The laboratory tests provider reported weaker-than-expected results for the fourth quarter, partly due to lower revenue per test and lower government payments for its tests.
The company also said it expected 2014 adjusted earnings of $6.35-$6.70 per share, below the average analyst estimate of $6.70 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** EXPEDIA INC, $74.45, +14.29 pct
** ORBITZ WORLDWIDE INC, $7.44, +4.35 pct
** TRIPADVISOR INC, $84.52, +9.57 pct
At least eight brokerages including JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank raised their price targets on the online travel agency’s stock, after it posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and sold more hotel stays and airline tickets in the fourth quarter than the previous year.
Shares of the other travel companies such as Orbitz and Tripadvisor also rose on the news.
** NCR CORP, $32.4, -7.38 pct
The ATM maker forecast a full-year adjusted profit largely below Wall Street estimates and reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue, hurt by lower sales in its financial services business, its largest unit.
** OUTERWALL INC, $71.76, +12.76 pct
The company raised its share buyback program by $500 million to about $650 million, and named a Warner Bros Home Entertainment executive to run its Redbox video-rental business. The company also reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by cost cuts.
** STATOIL, $25.2, +5.26 pct
The Norwegian oil major abandoned its 2020 production target and slashed investment plans on Friday, joining rivals in reining in runaway spending and targeting returns over output.
** SODASTREAM INTERNATIONAL LTD, $39.63, +3.34 pct
** GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE ROASTERS, $106.8, +4.60 pct
** COCA-COLA, $37.96, -0.18 pct
A surge in bets that shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters would rise sharply by the end of the week has raised suspicions, coming as it did just hours before news of a partnership deal with Coca-Cola.
Green Mountain said late on Wednesday that Coca-Cola bought a 10 percent stake for $1.25 billion and would help launch Green Mountain’s new cold-drink machine, planned for release as soon as October.
Coca-Cola investment puts pressure on at-home soda leader SodaStream to bolster its position through a partnership or merger with the likes of a PepsiCo Inc or Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.
** NEWS CORP, $17.2, +7.37 pct
The publisher of the Wall Street Journal reported a 4 percent decline in quarterly revenue due to weaker advertising at its newspapers, but cost cuts helped push profit well ahead of analysts’ forecasts.
** CARLYLE GROUP LP, $34.4, +1.21 pct
** ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC, $78.75, +0.81 pct
Carlyle said it agreed to buy Illinois Tool Works’ industrial packaging unit for $3.2 billion, the private equity firm’s latest acquisition of a large unit being carved out of conglomerates.
** BAYTEX ENERGY CORP, $35.489, -5.66 pct
The Canadian heavy oil producer has agreed to buy Aurora Oil & Gas Ltd for C$2.6 billion ($2.4 billion) including debt, targeting the Australian company’s Texas shale oil assets.
** LIONS GATE ENTERTAINMENT CORP, $32.98, +3.94 pct
The film distributor reported a better-than-expected rise in quarterly earnings due to the success of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, “Escape Plan” and “Now You See Me”.
** ATHENAHEALTH INC, $168.9, +21.44 pct
The healthcare software company reported a better-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit as its network of physicians expanded by 28 percent.
** AUDIENCE INC, $10.31, -4.71 pct
The company reported a 13 percent fall in quarterly revenue, hurt by weak sales of its audio chips to smartphone makers.
** NET 1 UEPS TECHNOLOGIES INC, $9.42, +15.58 pct
The South Africa-based payment processor reported a 23 percent rise in second-quarter revenue on Thursday, helped by higher demand for its prepaid mobile recharge service introduced in the first quarter.
** ECHELON CORP, $3.16, -16.62 pct
Needham & Co analysts cut their rating on the company’s stock to “hold” from “buy,” after Echelon forecast first-quarter revenue below analysts’ estimates.
The company, which makes transceivers that go into thermostats, posted a 24 percent decline in fourth-quarter revenue, hurt by a sharp fall in demand for its products.
** LANNETT CO INC, $36, +12.39 pct
The generic drugmaker reported better-than-expected second-quarter results on Thursday, driven by strong sales and price increases.
Lannett also raised its fiscal 2014 net sales forecast to $275-$285 million from $245-$255 million it estimated earlier.
** NIC INC, $18.99, -10.55 pct
The company, which outsources web portal services for state and local governments, reported quarterly results below analysts’ estimates on Thursday, hurt by higher taxes and expenses.
NIC reported fourth-quarter profit of 9 cents per share on revenue of $60.8 million. Analysts had expected earnings of 12 cents per share on revenue of $63 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** ENERGY XXI (BERMUDA) LTD, $20.78, -10.04 pct
The oil and gas company reported lower-than-expected second-quarter profit, hurt by lower realized crude oil prices and higher expenses.
The company reported earnings of 10 cents per share, below the average analyst estimate of 41 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** BRISTOW GROUP, $66.85, -2.65 pct
The company, which provides helicopter services to the offshore energy industry, posted a lower-than-expected profit for the third quarter on Thursday, due to delayed contract revenues and higher costs.
** ACETO CORP, $17.8404, -11.51 pct
The distributor of pharmaceutical products reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results on Thursday, mainly due to lower sales in its performance chemicals and pharmaceutical ingredients segments and higher expenses.
** UBIQUITI NETWORKS INC, $42.26, +3.22 pct
BMO Capital Markets raised its price target on the wireless products maker’s stock, saying it sees growth potential for the company due to expectations of higher sales of its airMAX antennae and “broader acceptance” of its Unifi Wi-Fi technology.
Ubiquiti reported better-than-expected results for the second quarter on Thursday.
** ECHO GLOBAL LOGISTICS INC, $16.91, -7.14 pct
The transportation and supply chain management services provider reported lower-than-expected results for the fourth quarter due to weak demand in November and December. (Compiled by Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)