(For faster updates on individual market-movers, Eikon users please use search string "STXBZ US"; for the Day Ahead newsletter, link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stock index futures pointed to slight losses at the open on Friday amid uncertainty over ongoing negotiations for a debt deal in Greece.
Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 0.16 percent at 17,930, S&P 500 futures were down 0.21 percent at 2,090.75 and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.05 percent at 4,411.25.
** WAL-MART STORES INC, Thursday close $83.52, -1.20 pct premarket
Barclays cuts its rating on the stock of the world’s largest retailer to “equal weight” from “overweight”.
The brokerage said the acceleration in U.S. comparable store sales in Q4 was mainly due to lower gas prices and easy weather comparisons, both of which are unlikely to be factors this year. The company’s investments in ecommerce have yielded moderating sales growth, while the benefits of training are unlikely to offset the higher expenses near term
“WMT is not pulling any other levers, like cost-cutting or stock buybacks, that would offset these hits to earnings ... Yet the stock has had a good run since the company’s analyst meeting in October 2014, and given where the stock is trading now (17.2x) on our new FY16 EPS of $4.85 and the absence of any positive near-term catalysts, we cannot see what moves the stock higher.”
** COLLABRX INC, Thursday close $1.89, -37.04 pct premarket
The healthcare data analytics company’s offering of 3.84 million shares was priced at $1.25 per share, while the exercise price of warrants to buy up to 3.84 million shares was set at $1.56 apiece, exercisable immediately. CollabRx expects gross proceeds of about $4.8 million.
The stock has swung wildly this week, falling about 23 and 19 percent on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before soaring 66 percent on Thursday.
** FANNIE MAE, Thursday close $3.06, -2.94 pct premarket
Fannie Mae will make its smallest payment to taxpayers in more than four years after large derivatives losses crimped its fourth-quarter profit, the government-controlled mortgage financier said on Friday.
** NOODLES & CO, Thursday close $27.74, -26.93 pct premarket
The fast-casual restaurant chain operator’s holiday-quarter results and 2015 adjusted profit forecast was short of analysts’ average estimates.
Robert W. Baird & Co cut its rating to “neutral” from “outperform” and Janney Capital Markets cut to “neutral” from “buy”. Six others lowered price targets and Barclays cuts to $20, the lowest.
Barclays said, “Unfortunately, 4Q14 results disappointed top to bottom, likely leading to significant underperformance today, and not unlike two of the past three quarters. And looking to ‘15, while EPS growth guidance was tempered, it still calls for 20 percent growth, which appears aggressive.”
** ROCKET FUEL INC, Thursday close $14.77, -24.10 pct premarket
The web-based video advertising provider’s fourth-quarter revenue was below market expectations as, according to Evercore ISI, the contribution from the recently acquired X+1 was “not enough to offset accelerating declines in core growth.”
The company also forecast current-quarter adjusted EBITDA to be a loss of $18-$19 million, much wider than analysts’ estimates of a loss of $2.9 million.
Evercore more than halved its price target to $8 from $19, while Oppenheimer cut its rating to “perform”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** ANN INC, Thursday close $35.08, +8.32 pct premarket
The owner of the Ann Taylor and Loft women’s clothing stores is exploring a sale and has reached out to potential buyers, Bloomberg said, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Ann Inc was valued at $1.6 billion as of Thursday’s close. Ann entered into confidentiality agreement with private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in October, after some hedge funds pushed for sale.
** IVANHOE ENERGY, Thursday close $0.7, -67.00 pct premarket
The Canadian oil and gas company said it intended to file for bankruptcy. The company said it would continue to pursue strategic alternatives, including restructuring its debt, selling assets, and added that it was in talks with various stakeholders to recapitalize the company.
Ivanhoe has said in December that it was exploring a sale of the company and that it could default on an interest payment of about C$2.1 million due on Dec. 31.
** SPRINT CORP, Thursday close $4.88, -1.64 pct premarket
Sprint and iHeart Communications priced benchmark-sized drive-by deals in the US high-yield bond market on Thursday, both trades upsized amid solid demand from return-hungry investors.
** ARISTA NETWORKS INC, Thursday close $67.99, +9.94 pct premarket
The cloud networking software maker reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter adjusted profit and revenue and forecast first-quarter revenue largely above estimates, which Barclays said suggests that the impact of the Cisco lawsuit is minimal - at least near term.
“In short, we continue to believe fundamentals in data center switching are healthy and view Arista as a share gainer over a multi-year time frame,” said the brokerage. Barclays and Cowen & Co raised their price targets on the stock.
** TRUECAR INC, Thursday close $20.77, -6.11 pct premarket
JMP Securities attributed the shares fall to the online car shopping service provider’s in-line fourth-quarter results, decelerating average monthly unique user growth and the likelihood that the cost-per-car-sold increases about $10-$15 this year, shares fell.
But, the brokerage said it “would take advantage of any material weakness in the stock”, reiterating its “market outperform” rating and boosted its price target to $24 from $23. JMP pointed to the company’s continued market share gains, strong unit growth at TrueCar.com and improved marketing efficiency.
** MEI PHARMA INC, Thursday close $5.04, +7.14 pct premarket
Bank of America Merrill Lynch started coverage of the drug developer’s stock with a “buy” rating and a $9 price target. Analysts see significant opportunity for the company in indications like leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.
** NOVATEL WIRELESS INC, Thursday close $5.05, +4.95 pct premarket
The wireless network gear provider posted fourth-quarter profit and revenue above estimates, helped by higher sales of its mobile computing products. The company forecasts first-quarter revenue above estimates. Canaccord Genuity raised its price target on the stock to $5 from $3.
** FIESTA RESTAURANT GROUP INC, Thursday close $66.99, +3.37 pct premarket
The operator of the Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical restaurants on Thursday reported fourth-quarter revenue and profit that topped analysts’ expectations.
“Development continues to materialize quicker than anticipated,” said Jefferies & Co. Wedbush Securities expects Pollo Tropical comparable restaurant sales to beat estimates in 2015, driven by menu changes and remodeling of restaurants.
Both brokerages were among four who raised their price target on the stock.
** DEERE & CO, Thursday close $91.71, -1.26 pct premarket
The farm equipment maker posted a 43 percent fall in first-quarter profit and cut its full-year profit forecast as lower corn prices and weak farm income weighed on demand for agricultural machinery.
** NEWMONT MINING CORP, Thursday close $24.46, +1.51 pct premarket
The U.S.’s largest gold producer reported on Thursday a narrower adjusted fourth quarter profit, though earnings were stronger than expected.
** NORDSTROM INC, Thursday close $77.14, +1.11 pct premarket
The upscale department store operator reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as it spent more on technology upgrades and store expansion, and increased discounts at its Rack brand stores in the holiday shopping season.
JP Morgan lowered the target price on company’s stock to $76 from $80; Cowen & Co lowered target price to $87 from $91.
** INTUIT INC, Thursday close $91.11, +3.83 pct premarket
The company reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss due to a strong demand for its online tax-preparation software, TurboTax, at the start of the U.S. tax-filing season. (Compiled by Neha Dimri in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)