(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 Thursday, putting the Nasdaq on track for a sixth straight day of gains as investors looked past disappointing data on consumer spending, chalking the weakness up to weather instead of weaker fundamentals. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.41 percent at 16,029.74, the S&P 500 was up 0.55 percent at 1,829.23 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.84 percent at 4236.48.
** COMCAST CORP, $53.05, -3.96 pct
** TIME WARNER CABLE INC, $144.57, +6.84 pct
** CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS INC $129, -6.23 pct
Comcast Corp said on Thursday that it would buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that combines the two largest U.S. cable operators. The friendly takeover comes as a surprise after months of public pursuit of Time Warner by smaller rival Charter Communications.
** RETROPHIN INC, $16.37, +53.28 pct
The drugmaker said it would buy privately held Manchester Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company that focuses on treatments for rare diseases, for $62.5 million.
Manchester markets two drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Chenodal, for use in patients suffering from gallstones, and Vecamyl, for managing hypertension and uncomplicated cases of malignant hypertension.
** ORBITZ WORLDWIDE INC, $9.05, +30.97 pct
The online travel agency reported a quarterly profit on Thursday as it booked more hotel stays and vacation packages.
** PEPSICO INC, $79.64, -2.27 pct
PepsiCo, rejecting a proposal by activist investor Nelson Peltz, said it had decided not to spin off its North-American beverage business, which posted another drop in sales in the fourth quarter.
** CISCO SYSTEMS INC, $22.1, -3.28 pct
The network gear maker forecast on Wednesday a 6-8 percent revenue slide this quarter, underlining its struggle to rekindle demand in emerging markets like China, even as hardware spending sags globally.
** GENETIC TECHNOLOGIES LTD, $2.22, +55.24 pct
The diagnostics company said a re-examination of the claims made by a patent held by it was successfully resolved.
Ladenburg Thalmann upgraded its rating on the company’s stock to “buy” from “neutral,” citing increased visibility for the launch of an updated cancer test, the company’s patent landscape and the implementation of steps to cut operating expenses.
** PRECISION DRILLING CORP, $10.11, +6.65 pct
The Canadian drilling contractor posted a better-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter, helped by higher demand for its rigs and improved dayrates. The company’s profit of 24 Canadian cents per share beat analysts’ average estimate of 16 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** OXYGEN BIOTHERAPEUTICS INC, $6.3801, +13.73 pct
The specialty pharmaceutical company said a study published in a medical journal offered evidence that its experimental heart drug, levosimendan, provides significant renal benefits to patients undergoing mitral valve surgery.
The company expects to begin a late-stage trial testing levosimendan in patients undergoing coronary artery by-pass and/or mitral valve surgery in the third quarter.
** BIOANALYTICAL SYSTEMS INC, $2.9011, -10.73 pct
The drug development services provider posted a first-quarter loss, hurt by a non-cash warrant liability.
** INSTALLED BUILDING PRODUCTS INC, $12.73, +15.73 pct
Shares of the residential insulation installer rose in their market debut, valuing the company at about $365 million. The company’s IPO raised about $82 million after its initial public offering of 7.45 million shares was priced at $11 per share, significantly below its expected range of $14-$16.
** UNIVERSAL FOREST PRODUCTS INC, $57.1, +14.61 pct
The company reported a 12 percent rise in fourth-quarter sales as a recovery in the U.S. housing and construction market helped its wood and wood composite businesses.
** COPA HOLDINGS SA, $142, +5.81 pct
The Latin American airline passenger and cargo service provider late on Wednesday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results as yield per passeneger mile rose 6 percent and revenue per available seat mile increased 6 percent.
** GENERAL CABLE CORP, $29.85, +8.15 pct
The maker of fiber optic wire and cable products said late on Wednesday revenue rose 7 percent to $1.66 billion in the fourth quarter as it shipped more aerial transmission cables, and forecast first-quarter adjusted earnings of 5-22 cents on revenue of $1.55-$1.60 billion.
** LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES INC, $6.41, -8.95 pct
The toy maker on Wednesday forecast current-quarter results far below the average analyst estimate, citing difficult retail conditions. The company also reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue, hurt by the tough holiday shopping season in 2013.
** SKECHERS USA INC, $35.63, +18.85 pct
The footwear maker reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results as its products across the men’s, women’s and kid’s categories led more customers to its stores.
Brean Capital LLC raised its price target on the company’s stock to $50 from $39.
** ADDVANTAGE TECHNOLOGIES GROUP INC, $2.65, -14.52 pct
The company, which supplies network equipment to the cable television industry, reported a 28 percent drop in first-quarter revenue due to lower sales of new and refurbished equipment.
** ARC GROUP WORLDWIDE INC, $30.2, +18.11 pct
The diversified manufacturer reported a 14.6 percent rise in second-quarter revenue, partly due to higher sales in its metal injection molding business.
** LENTUO INTERNATIONAL INC, $3.52, +7.32 pct
The Chinese automobile retailer late on Wednesday reported a third-quarter profit of 0.27 yuan (4 cents), compared with a net loss of 0.11 yuan a year earlier. The company’s revenue rose 13.4 percent to 953.1 million yuan ($155.7 million). ($1 = 6.0636 Chinese yuan)
** LUXOFT HOLDING INC, $42.62, +12.78 pct
The software developer and IT consulting firm reported a 33 percent jump in third-quarter revenue late on Wednesday, helped by higher demand for its services from finance and automotive businesses.
** CARDIOME PHARMA CORP, $9.98, +21.12 pct
The pharmaceutical company focused on heart drugs said a clinical trial for its investigational drug Brinavess, or vernakalant, showed positive results. Brinavess, which was being tested in post-cardiac surgery patients with heart rhythm disorder, was successful in bringing the heart rate to normal in 74 percent of the patients at 90 minutes.
** CRA INTERNATIONAL INC, $21.51, +11.68 pct
The financial consulting company reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher revenue from its regulatory and management consulting services. The company said its board has authorized an expanded share repurchase program of up to $15 million.
** ION GEOPHYSICAL CORP, $3.95, +25.40 pct
The seismic data processing company reported fourth-quarter revenue way ahead of the average analyst estimate, helped by data library sales that more than doubled year-on-year, rising particularly in areas offshore East and West Africa, East and West India, and the Gulf of Mexico.
** ANGIE’S LIST INC, $14.4665, -15.40 pct
Brokerage Raymond James cut its rating on the company’s stock to “market perform” from “strong buy,” while at least five other brokerages cut their price targets on Angie’s stock, following its fourth-quarter results on Wednesday.
The company, which operates a website that allows the public to review local businesses, forecast lower-than-expected revenue for the first quarter and said it expected marketing expenses to rise.
** STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORP, $35.9, +12.89 pct
The title insurer reported stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, helped by lower claims. Title losses and related claims fell 28 percent to $25.9 million for the quarter ended Dec.31. The company said it expects to return $70 million to stockholders through a share buy-back program, with the majority expected to occur in 2015.
** MOLINA HEALTHCARE INC, $34.98, +6.87 pct
The health insurer, on Thursday, provided a 2014 outlook that topped Wall Street estimates.
** BIODEL INC, $3.17, +4.62 pct
The drugmaker said data from an early-stage trial of its experimental insulin formulation showed it was safe and tolerable, and the company planned to advance the drug into a mid-stage study.
** WHITEWAVE FOODS CO, $25.99, +9.34 pct
The dairy products producer reported fourth-quarter results that beat the average analyst estimate, helped by volume growth across its North America and Europe divisions.
** AMTRUST FINANCIAL SERVICES INC, $34.2501, +10.48 pct
The insurer posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit as it wrote higher insurance premiums in the quarter. The company’s revenue rose about 77 percent to $816.4 million.
** GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO, $27.01, +11.75 pct
The tire company posted a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday and said it had fully funded its hourly U.S. pension plan.
** INTREPID POTASH INC, $14.06, -8.10 pct
The potash producer reported a surprise fourth-quarter loss, hurt by higher production costs and lower prices and sales volumes.
** GENERAC HOLDINGS INC, $56.4, +13.05 pct
The generator maker reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, as its acquisitions of Ottomotores, Tower Light and Baldor generators drove up the sales of its commercial and industrial products.
** DREW INDUSTRIES INC, $49.85, +8.30 pct
The supplier of components for recreational vehicles, late on Wednesday, reported fourth-quarter profit that beat the average analyst estimate, as retail demand for travel trailer and fifth-wheel recreational vehicles rose 10 percent in 2013, the highest since 2007.
** ITRON INC, $33.275, -15.09 pct
The power meter maker’s fourth-quarter revenue missed the average analyst estimate due to the unfavorable impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates.
At least three brokerages cut their ratings on the Itron’s stock.
** THE MEDICINES CO $29.1801, -11.84 pct
An independent advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the drugmaker’s blood clot preventer should not be approved due to a lack of data to prove its efficacy.
** CABELAS INC, $64.32, -7.86 pct
The specialty retailer of hunting, fishing and camping merchandise reported a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and a 10 percent fall in same-store-sales, hurt by a sharper-than-expected decline in ammunition sales. The company also forecast first-quarter profit below the average analyst estimate.
** BARRICK GOLD CORP, $20.14, +6.17 pct
** ROYAL GOLD INC, $65.912, +4.24 pct
** MCEWEN MINING INC, $2.93, +10.15 pct
** IAMGOLD, $4.04, +4.12 pct
** GOLDCORP INC, $26.905, +3.32 pct
** HECLA MINING CO, $3.323, +3.52 pct
** NEWMONT MINING CORP, $23.53, +4.53 pct
Gold hovered below a three-month high on Thursday, struggling to break above $1,300, as investor caution ahead of a series of U.S. economic figures offset support from a sharply lower dollar and weaker equity markets. Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,291.40 an ounce by 1238 GMT, having hit a three-month high of $1,295.91 on Wednesday.
** TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD, $3.185, -6.87 pct
The Canadian miner said year-to-date sales volume from its Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia has fallen short of expectations, citing post-commissioning issues.
** TECK RESOURCES LTD, $23.83, -6.03 pct
Canada’s largest diversified miner’s reported on Thursday that its fourth-quarter operating profit fell mostly due to lower prices of coal and copper.
** MATADOR RESOURCES CO, $22.3, +5.54 pct
At least two brokerages raised their ratings on the oil and gas producer’s stock after it said its year-end proved reserves more than doubled to 51.7 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2013. The increase in reserves was driven by drilling successes in the Eagle Ford shale field in Texas and an improvement in gas prices.
** FORTRESS INVESTMENT GROUP LLC, $8.4, +5.13 pct
The alternative asset manager said it repurchased 60.6 million of its Class A shares from Nomura Holdings Inc for about $363.4 million, payable in cash.
** TOWER SEMICONDUCTOR LTD, $7.485, +5.13 pct
The Israeli chip maker’s shares rose on Thursday on a report that India’s cabinet had approved the setting up of two semiconductor plants.
** AMERICAN CAMPUS COMMUNITIES INC, $35.96, +4.90 pct
The real-estate investment trust, late on Wednesday, reported fourth-quarter funds from operations that beat the average analyst estimate. The company also forecast full-year 2014 funds from operations largely above the average analyst estimate.
** WHOLE FOODS MARKET INC, $51.27, -7.56 pct
The largest U.S. organic and natural food retailer, on Wednesday, reported first-quarter results that missed the average analyst estimate and stunned investors by cutting its 2014 sales forecast for the second time in three months.
At least 9 brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock.
** B&G FOODS INC, $28.36, -7.59 pct
The private-label food manufacturer, on Wednesday, reported a fourth-quarter profit that missed the average analyst estimate, hurt by a lower gross margin due to a net price decrease, a sales mix shift to lower margin products, and a rise in distribution costs.
** NANOSPHERE INC, $2.44, +2.95 pct
The molecular diagnostics company reported fourth-quarter results and forecast 2014 revenue largely in line with the average analyst estimate.
At least two brokerages, including Roth Capital Partners, raised their price targets on the Nanosphere’s stock.
** CBS CORP $64.53, +4.33 pct
The media company on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected profit, announced an accelerated share buyback plan and raised its projection for revenue from pay television operators.
** CENOVUS ENERGY INC, $26.19, -2.96 pct
The Canadian oil and gas producer’s fourth-quarter operating profit fell short of the average analyst estimate as production at its Foster Creek oil sands project in northern Alberta dropped 11 percent.
** NETAPP, $41.08, -3.55 pct
The storage equipment maker forecast fourth-quarter revenue below the average analyst estimate on Wednesday.
At least three brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s stock on Thursday. (Compiled by Garima Goel in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings)