(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 edged lower on Thursday as global geopolitical and economic uncertainty gave investors few reasons to buy despite a sharp selloff in the previous session. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 0.07 percent at 16,004, S&P 500 futures were down 0.26 percent at 1,820.7 and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.29 percent at 3,644.
** FACEBOOK INC, Wednesday close $68.06, -3.86 pct premarket
** BLACKBERRY LTD, Wednesday close $9.01, +5.55 pct premarket
The world’s largest social network will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in a landmark deal that places the company closer to the heart of mobile communications and may bring younger users into the fold. But many balked at the price tag.
Facebook is paying $42 per user with the deal, dwarfing its own $33 per user cost of acquiring Instagram. By comparison, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten just bought messaging service Viber for $3 per user, in a $900 million deal.
The stunning bid sent shares of BlackBerry Ltd surging after the closing bell on Wednesday because it put a rough valuation metric around the Canadian smartphone maker’s own BlackBerry Messaging service.
For a graphic on price paid per user, (link.reuters.com/mej96v)
** WAL-MART STORES INC, Wednesday close $74.85, -1.14 pct premarket
The world’s largest retailer reported a lower profit for the holiday quarter as comparable sales in the United States declined again. Wal-Mart said comparable sales at its U.S. stores, its biggest unit, fell 0.4 percent in the fiscal fourth quarter.
** PEPSICO INC, Wednesday close $77.1, +0.45 pct premarket
Activist Investor Nelson Peltz renewed his crusade to convince the company’s board to spin off its slow-growing beverage business from its flourishing snacks division, less than a week after the company poured cold water on the idea.
** TESLA MOTORS INC, Wednesday close $193.64, +11.86 pct premarket
Tesla Motors, led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results on Wednesday and said deliveries of its luxury Model S electric sedan would surge more than 55 percent this year.
At least three brokerages raised their target price on the company’s stock on Thursday. Jefferies & Co raised its target price to $220 from $190, while J.P. Morgan Securities raised the target price to $137 from $115. Robert W. Baird & Co raised the target price to $245 from $215.
** SAFEWAY INC, Wednesday close $34.61, +4.13 pct premarket
** BLACKHAWK NETWORK HOLDINGS INC, Wednesday close $28.08
The second-largest U.S. mainstream grocery store operator, said on Wednesday it is in talks about a possible sale of the company. Safeway has been trying to streamline its business by selling off non-core units.
It spun off its gift card provider, Blackhawk Network Holdings, into a separate publicly traded company, selling a 19 percent stake. It also sold off its Canadian operations to Empire Co Ltd, the operator of Canadian retailer Sobeys, for $5.8 billion in cash.
** NOKIA CORP, Wednesday close $7.27, +0.41 pct premarket
** JUNIPER NETWORKS INC, Wednesday close $27.2, +2.39 pct premarket
Finland’s Nokia is considering buying the U.S.-based network gear maker to merge it with its unit Nokia Solutions and Networks, German online publication Manager Magazin Online reported, citing unnamed sources.
** HERBALIFE LTD, Wednesday close $66.18
The nutrition and weight loss products company lowered its forecast range for 2014 sales and again defended itself on Wednesday against allegations by billionaire investor William Ackman that its business is a fraud.
Sales are expected to grow between 7.5 percent and 9.5 percent this year, in part because of strong business in China. Those numbers are lower than the company forecast in October, when it reported third-quarter results, and said 2014 sales would grow between 9 percent and 11 percent.
** ONCONOVA THERAPEUTICS INC, Wednesday close $13.86, -39.39 pct premarket
The company said its experimental blood disorder drug did not meet the main goal of a late-stage trial. Rigosertib, the company’s lead drug, is being studied as a potential treatment for patients with a higher risk of myelodysplastic syndromes who had not responded to prior therapy.
The company’s shares fell 45 percent in extended trading on Wednesday.
** GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE ROASTERS, Wednesday close $117.94
The company faces competition from Nespresso’s new single-serve coffee brewer that makes larger American-sized portions.
Nespresso’s Swiss parent Nestle, the world’s largest food company, said on Wednesday its new VertuoLine system will go on sale in the United States and Canada this week.
** IAMGOLD CORP, Wednesday close $4.06
The Canadian miner swung to a quarterly loss as gold prices fell, and said its capital spending in 2014 would be 40 percent lower than last year as it had completed the expansion of a mine in West Africa.
** BANK OF AMERICA CORP, Wednesday close $16.2
** AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP INC, Wednesday close $49.25, -0.28 pct premarket
A New York state judge declined to delay court approval of Bank of America’s $8.5 billion settlement with investors in mortgage-backed securities, rejecting a move by American International Group.
** PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES INC, Wednesday close $50.48, +8.3 pct after market
The company said it would buy Norway’s Aktiv Kapital AS for about $880 million to expand its fee-based debt collection services in Europe. The company also reported a higher-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profit.
** COEUR MINING INC, Wednesday close $11.28
The silver miner reported a fourth-quarter loss due to a $773 million charge it took to write down the value of its Palmarejo silver-gold mine in Mexico and the Kensington gold mine in Alaska.
** MERCK & CO INC, Wednesday close $55.04
** NOVARTIS AG, Wednesday close $81.76
A handful of consumer and healthcare companies including Bayer AG and Novartis are exploring a deal for Merck & Co Inc’s consumer healthcare business, as they seek to gain scale in a fragmented industry, according to several people familiar with the matter.
** YANDEX NV, Wednesday close $39.83, -3.51 pct premarket
Russia’s biggest search engine said on Thursday it expects revenues to grow by 25-30 percent this year, a slowing from the growth achieved in 2013.
** PENN VIRGINIA CORP, Wednesday close $12.91, -4 pct after market
The oil and gas producer on Wednesday forecast 2014 product revenues below analysts’ average estimate after reporting lower revenue in the fourth quarter due to a decline in selling prices. Product revenues, excluding the impact of any hedges, are expected to be $587 million to $630 million this year, below the average analyst estimate of $655 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** DIAMONDBACK ENERGY INC, Wednesday close $61.04
The U.S. oil and gas company on Thursday made its second purchase in the Permian basin of Texas in as many days, buying 1,858 net acres of producing assets for about $114.3 million. Diamondback, which did not disclose the seller, on Tuesday agreed to buy 2,825 net acres in the region for $174 million.
The company also said it would offer 3 million shares in a public offering and use the proceeds to fund the purchases.
** JACK IN THE BOX INC, Wednesday close $53.47, +3.6 pct after market
The San Diego-based restaurant chain on Wednesday reported first-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by growth in same-store sales at its Jack in the Box and Qdoba Mexican Grill outlets.
Barclays Capital raised its price target on the company’s stock to $49 from $47 on Thursday.
** GOODRICH PETROLEUM CORP, Wednesday close $15.29, -6 pct after market
The oil and gas producer reported a larger-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter as production was hurt by drilling delays at the Tuscaloosa Marine shale field located in Louisiana and Mississippi.
** CONN‘S INC, Wednesday close $55.8, -20.70 pct premarket
The electronics and home appliance retailer estimated fourth-quarter earnings below analysts’ expectations as delinquency and charge-offs rose in December and January, increasing the provision for bad debt.
by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore, Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila