(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. stock index futures fell on Wednesday on investor caution ahead of the release of housing data and minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting of policymakers. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 0.23 percent at 16,070, S&P 500 futures were down 0.22 percent at 1,833.4 and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.10 percent at 3,671.5.
** CHELSEA THERAPEUTICS INTERNATIONAL LTD, Tuesday close $4.95, +32.53 pct premarket
The company’s drug Northera, which treats a rare form of low blood pressure associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, has won U.S. approval, the Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.
** SIGNET JEWELERS LTD, Tuesday close $79.27, +12.27 pct premarket
** ZALE CORP, Tuesday close $14.91, +40.17 pct premarket
Kay Jewelers parent Signet Jewelers agreed to buy smaller rival Zale Corp for about $690 million, cementing its position as the largest North American jewelry chain.
The offer of $21 per share represents a premium of about 41 percent to Zale’s close on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The stock traded as low as $3.76 in April.
** ELI LILLY AND CO, Tuesday close $55.25, +4.11 pct premarket
The company said its experimental lung cancer drug significantly improved patient survival rates compared to a placebo in a late-stage trial. The trial also showed that the drug, ramucirumab, improved survival rates without the cancer worsening.
** CANADIAN NATURAL RESOURCES LTD, Tuesday close $35.77, -0.06 pct premarket
** DEVON ENERGY CORP‘S, Tuesday close $62.91
Canadian Natural Resources, Canada’s largest independent oil producer, said it would buy some of Devon Energy’s liquids-rich natural gas assets in Canada for C$3.13 billion ($2.86 billion).
Devon posted a fourth-quarter profit, compared to a loss a year earlier, as the company produced more oil, particularly from its wells in Texas’ Permian Basin.
** COLGATE-PALMOLIVE CO, Tuesday close $62.39
The world’s largest toothpaste maker said it expected a one-time loss of $180 million to $200 million in the current quarter after Venezuela devalued its foreign exchange rate.
** HERBALIFE LTD, Tuesday close $68.93, +0.83 pct premarket
The nutrition products company raised its forecast for the first quarter of 2014 on strong sales growth in China. The company’s China sales rose more than 120 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, the fastest of any region worldwide, prompting the firm to estimate adjusted profit of $1.25 to $1.29 per share in the first quarter this year. Herbalife, accused by billionaire investor William Ackman of being a pyramid scheme, had earlier forecast $1.24 to $1.28 per share.
** LA-Z-BOY INC, Tuesday close $27.11, -9 pct after market
The furniture maker reported a quarterly profit that missed market expectations as unseasonably cold weather in the United States, its biggest market, hurt sales.
** COLUMBIA SPORTSWEAR CO, Tuesday close $78.67, +7 pct after market
The outdoor sportswear maker forecast a 15-17 percent jump in full-year sales after reporting quarterly results that blew past analysts’ estimates. The company also raised its quarterly dividend to 28 cents per share from 25 cents.
At least three brokerages raised their price targets on the stock. Janney Capital Markets raised its fair value on the stock to $70 from $65, while Canaccord Genuity increased its price target to $75 from $71. D.A. Davidson raised its price target to $87 from $83.
** MATTRESS FIRM HOLDING CORP, Tuesday close $41.26, -10.32 pct premarket
The specialty bedding retailer estimated fiscal 2013 earnings below analysts’ expectations on Tuesday, citing the weak U.S. consumer spending environment and the cold weather conditions in some of its primary markets.
The company said it expected adjusted earnings of $1.64-$1.66 per share for the year ended Jan. 28, down from $1.75-$1.83 it expected earlier.
Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.77 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** GARMIN LTD, Tuesday close $47.17, +12.57 pct premarket
The navigation device maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by strong demand for aviation and fitness products. The company, which also forecast 2014 revenue above the average analyst estimate, has been looking to offset falling sales of its GPS devices that once dominated personal navigation.
** POTBELLY CORP, Tuesday close $22.399, -5.09 pct premarket
The sandwich chain on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ average estimate, hurt by a 0.7 percent decline in company-operated comparable store sales.
The company’s total revenue rose 1.7 percent to $74.8 million in the quarter ended Dec. 29. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $76.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** OCEAN RIG UDW INC, Tuesday close $16.88, +4.86 pct premarket
** DRYSHIPS INC, Tuesday close $16.88
Offshore drilling contractor Ocean Rig, majority owned by dry bulk shipper DryShips, reported a better-than-expected profit for the fourth quarter, helped by higher revenue from contracts and lower costs. (r.reuters.com/xuf96v)
DryShips’s fleet also posted higher revenues in the quarter and the company said it expects a recovery in the industry in 2014 and beyond after years of oversupply.
** JINKOSOLAR HOLDING CO LTD, Tuesday close $31.63
The Chinese solar panel maker said it would supply 49.41 kilowatts of panels to the Swiss embassy in Tokyo. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
** BLACKBERRY LTD, Tuesday close $9.46
** APPLE INC, Tuesday close $545.99, -0.13 pct premarket
The Canadian smartphone maker’s patent claims related to an attachable keyboard accessory for Apple’s iPhones don’t comply with legal requirements for patentability, Typo Products LLC said in a court filing late on Tuesday.
BlackBerry sued Typo last month, saying its physical keyboard that can be attached to some of Apple’s iPhone models infringes patents.
** AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, Tuesday close $50.17, -0.54 pct premarket
American International Group is holding “hostage” an $8.5 billion deal to compensate investors who bought Bank of America Corp mortgage securities, supporters of the deal said in court filings ahead of a hearing on Wednesday.
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, Tuesday close $36.31, -0.30 pct premarket
General Motors is working towards a largely aluminum-bodied pickup truck by late 2018, under pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
GM recently locked-in supply contracts with Alcoa Inc and Novelis Inc and both suppliers are now working to increase their aluminum sheet production to supply the next-generation GM pickup, according to the Journal.
** CF INDUSTRIES HOLDINGS INC, Tuesday close $226.19, +3.50 pct premarket
The U.S. fertilizer producer posted a lower fourth-quarter profit, but the fall from record-high earnings a year earlier was not as steep as analysts had expected.
** MONDELEZ INTERNATIONAL INC, Tuesday close $34.19
The maker of Cadbury chocolate and Oreo cookies sought on Tuesday to convince investors that it can increase profit margins in the coming years despite volatile emerging markets, days after a second activist investor disclosed a stake in the company. Mondelez reported a string of disappointing quarterly results since it was split from Kraft Foods Group in October 2012.
Jana Partners, a hedge fund known to push for corporate change, revealed on Feb. 14 that it held 4.6 million shares in Mondelez.
** TEVA PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES LTD, Tuesday close $45.67
The U.S. units of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd and the New York Attorney General have settled claims that an agreement between the two drugmakers unlawfully restricted competition.
** NOVARTIS AG, Tuesday close $82.72, -0.98 pct premarket
Prosecutors in Tokyo raided the local unit of Swiss drugmaker Novartis as part of an investigation into alleged use of manipulated data to promote its best-selling blood pressure drug Diovan, Kyodo News reported on Wednesday.
** MEDTRONIC INC, Tuesday close $56.19
The world’s largest stand-alone medical device maker on Tuesday reported a lower quarterly net profit after it took charges for a blood pressure-lowering device that failed to prove effective in a major clinical study.
** NEOGENOMICS INC Tuesday close $3.86, -4.66 pct premarket
The cancer diagnostics company said a new reimbursement guideline from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding its FISH cancer detection test could cause the company to stop offering the tests to Medicare beneficiaries.
Neogenomics said two or more probes used in the test would be billed as a single unit according to the rule, even though the cost of conducting the test would increase if multiple probes were used.
Neogenomics said if the CMS did not reconsider the guideline, the company could lose about $3 million in revenue and 4 cents per share of net income in 2014.
** CUMMINS INC, Tuesday close $143.1, -2.84 pct premarket
** FEDEX CORP, Tuesday close $132.79, -0.26 pct premarket
President Barack Obama on Tuesday directed federal agencies to develop higher fuel standards for medium-sized and heavy trucks, another step in his efforts to slash oil consumption and carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
Among the companies in the fuel efficiency group are engine-maker Cummins, parcel delivery company FedEx, transmission systems maker Eaton Corp, semi-trailer maker Wabash National Corp, Navistar International Corp and Waste Management Inc, which operates the largest U.S. fleet of garbage and waste trucks.
** VODAFONE GROUP PLC, Tuesday close $37.09
The telecom operator said on Wednesday shareholders would receive 0.026 shares in Verizon Communications for each Vodafone share they own as part of their payout for the $130 billion sale of the group’s stake in Verizon Wireless.
** GOOGLE INC, Tuesday close $1,210.88, -0.13 pct premarket
Renaissance Learning, an education technology start-up, said on Wednesday that Google Inc’s investment fund had bought a minority stake in the company, valuing it at $1 billion.
** HEALTHSTREAM INC, Tuesday close $31.26, +5 pct after market
The company, which provides IT solutions to healthcare organizations, reported fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates, helped by higher subscriptions.
Healthstream also said consolidated revenues for 2014 would grow by 22-26 percent. (Compiled by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)