InPlay from Briefing.com

3:44 pm Geron (+32%) surges to 3 month high following ABBV's purchase of PCYC (GERN) : GERN is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a telomerase inhibitor, imetelstat, in hematologic myeloid malignancies.

  • ABBV purchsed PCYC for ~$21 bln last night. PCYC's Imbruvica is a blockbuster drug in hematological oncology. 
GERN expects an Initial Phase 2 myelofibrosis Study to be initiated in mid-2015 followed later by the Initial Phase 2 myelodysplastic syndromes Study to be initiated at the end of 2015.
  • GERN entered into a worldwide license and collaboration agreement with JNJ's Janssen Biotech last November.

3:33 pm Earnings Calendar (:SUMRX) : Today after the close look for the following companies to report:

  • ADUS, ALJ, FRM, CKP, GALE, ATSG, LADR, SKUL, EBS, HCI, MNTX, DMD, ERII, ICEL, YY, WX, TFM, VMEM, THO, COO, FNSR, DMND, ESL, PGRE
Tomorrow before the open look for the following companies to report:
  • VTG, NWHM, KVHI, TRCO, SPLS, FL, BIG

3:13 pm Northrop Grumman announced it has licensed its air-flow-through cooling technology to GE Intelligent Platforms, for commercial and military applications; financial considerations were not disclosed (NOC) :  

3:11 pm Delta Air Lines statement regarding Flight 1086 (DAL) : Update stated:

  • There were 127 passengers and five crew members on board. Passengers deplaned and moved to the terminal on buses. Preliminary reports indicate some minor injuries. 
  • The flight was being operated using an MD-88 aircraft, and there was a fuel leak from one of the wings discovered

3:02 pm Advanced Photonix and Luna Innovations (LUNA) announce merger update; companies currently expect to close the merger in May 2015 (API) :  

3:01 pm American Capital: Orange Capital issues letter to management, regarding the company's capital allocation program and spin off governance (ACAS) : Letter states:

  • "We are supportive of the Company's November 5, 2014 announcement to separate the asset management business from the investment portfolio. Despite this positive announcement, ACAS's shares continue to trade at a depressed 73% of reported NAV. We believe that the Spin Off should ultimately unlock significant shareholder value. 
  • We are disappointed that management continues to shun accretive share repurchases in favor of funding new, higher risk investments. Management has communicated to us that after preparing the business development companies for the Spin Off, funding growth at American Capital Asset Management is its single best use of capital because it believes the market will assign a high multiple to ACAM's fee management income. 
  • We believe management's failure to repurchase shares at the current price sends a very negative signal about capital allocation. In weighing the choice to repurchase shares against funding growth investments, we believe management has not appropriately recognized that uncertain future income streams, and the multiple assigned to them, should have a higher discount rate than immediately accretive share repurchases 
  • We urge management to reconsider its stance on share repurchases and earmark at least one-third of the $600 to $800 million allocated for ACAM growth"

3:00 pm Kroger (+7%) at new all time high after beating earnings estimates for the fourth straight quarter (KR) : Comps accelerated for the fifth straight quarter, up 6%, with continued outperformance vs. grocery peers.

2:55 pm S&P +3.8 and Nasdaq Comp +19 extend afternoon push, Dow +36 hovering slightly under its bounce high (:TECHX) :  

2:34 pm Energy closing prices (:COMDX) :

  • Apr crude oil futures fell $0.74/barrel to $50.76/barrel 
  • Apr natural gas rose $0.07 to $2.84/MMBtu
  • RBOB Gasoline fell $0.05 to $1.89/gallon
  • Heating oil closed $0.02 lower at $1.88/gallon
Highlight:
  • Natural Gas: Inventory data released this morning showed a weekly draw of 228 bcf vs. expectations of 225 bcf. 

2:22 pm Agricultural closing prices (:COMDX) :

  • Mar corn closed $0.01 higher at $3.83/bushel
  • Mar wheat closed $0.12 lower at $4.93/bushel
  • Mar soybeans closed $0.10 lower at $9.80/bushel
  • Ethanol closed flat at $1.49/gallon
  • Sugar #11 closed 0.10 cents higher at 13.44 cents/lb

2:05 pm Boeing announces FAA approval of production certificate for South Carolina facility; allows 787-9 production and delivery from facility (BA) :  

1:42 pm Mobile TeleSystems announces that it will incur a charge to operating income for the fourth quarter 2014 due to losses stemming from the insolvency of JSC Delta Bank (MBT) : On March 2, 2015, the National Bank of Ukraine adopted a resolution declaring JSC Delta Bank to be insolvent. MTS Ukraine held UAH 1.4 bln at JSC Delta Bank in cash and deposits, both currently and as of December 31, 2014.

  • MTS has determined that this event provides additional evidence about conditions that existed at the end of 2014 and will recognize an impairment loss of ~RUB 5.2 bln in the fourth quarter.

1:32 pm Metals closing prices (:COMDX) :

  • Apr gold ended today's session $5.00 lower at $1196.20/oz
  • Mar silver closed $0.01 lower at $16.16/oz
  • May copper closed $0.01 lower at $2.65/lb 

1:21 pm Digital Turbine announces that stockholders voted to approve the issuance and sale of shares pursuant to the merger agreement with Appia, with over 99% of the votes cast in favor of the merger (APPS) :  

12:56 pm Midday Market Summary: Apple Weighs at Midday (:WRAPX) : The major averages are little changed at midday with the Nasdaq Composite (unch) trading ahead of the S&P 500 (-0.1%).

Equity indices have spent the first half of the day in the green, but maintaining those gains is proving to be a challenge. Five sectors sport gains at this time, but the top-weighted technology sector (-0.5%) has been pressured by its largest component. Shares of Apple (AAPL 125.86, -2.67) trade lower by 2.1% following a steady slide off their opening levels.

Despite Apple's weakness, the broader market has been able to stay out of the red thanks in large part to the relative strength of the health care sector (+0.3%), and specifically, biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 346.34, +6.25) has jumped 1.8% after AbbVie (ABBV 57.74, -2.53) agreed to acquire Pharmacyclics (PCYC 254.62, +24.14) for $261.25/share.

Similar to health care, consumer staples (+0.1%) and utilities (+0.6%) outperform while the telecom services sector (-0.1%) has turned negative in recent going.

Over on the cyclical side, the energy sector (-0.4%) weighs as crude oil trades lower by 0.4% at $51.32/bbl. The energy component has been pressured by dollar strength that has the Dollar Index (96.47, +0.50) trading at a fresh high for the year.

Elsewhere, industrials (-0.2%) lag amid weakness in transport stocks (Dow Jones Transportation Average -0.5%) while the financial sector (+0.2%) outperforms ahead of today's release of the Fed's stress test. The Fed will announce capital levels of 31 major banks at 16:30 ET while next Wednesday evening will feature the release of complete results.

Treasuries hold slim gains with the 10-yr yield lower by a basis point at 2.11%.

Economic data included jobless claims, productivity/labor cost data, and factory orders:

  • The initial claims level increased to 320,000 from an unrevised 313,000 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a decline to 295,000 
    • The reading marked the highest level of initial claims since May 2014 when it reached 327,000 
    • The Department of Labor reported that no special factors impacted this week's claims reading 
    • The continuing claims level increased to 2.421 million from an upwardly revised 2.404 million (from 2.401 million) 
  • Nonfarm business productivity for Q4 2014 was revised down to -2.2% from an originally reported -1.8% while the Briefing.com consensus expected a revision down to -2.3%
    • Annual productivity in 2014 was 0.7%, which was the smallest annual gain since increasing only 0.2% in 2011 
    • Unit labor costs were revised up to 4.1% from 2.7% while the consensus expected a revision up to 2.9% 
  • Factory orders declined 0.2% in January after declining 3.5% in December while the Briefing.com consensus expected an increase of 0.6% 
    • Almost the entire decline can be attributed to low oil prices as petroleum refinery orders declined 11.6% in January after declining 15.8% in December. Excluding petroleum, factory orders increased a solid 1.1% in January

12:56 pm Major averages join small-/mid-caps at new pullback lows -- Dow -7, S&P -3, Nasdaq Comp -3 (:TECHX) :  

12:56 pm Notable movers of interest (:SCANX) : The following are some of today's most notable movers of interest, categorized by market capitalization (large cap over $10 billion and mid cap between $2-10 billion) and ranked by % change (all stocks over 100K average daily volume). 

Large Cap Gainers

  • PCYC (254.63 +10.48%): To be acquired by AbbVie (ABBV) for $21 bln, or $261.25 per share.
  • KR (73.48 +5.5%): Beat Q4 consensus EPS estimates by $0.14, reported revs in-line; guided FY16 EPS above consensus.
  • MAC (88.54 +5.66%): Reports out suggesting the company may be a takeover target by Simon Property Group (SPG).
Large Cap Losers
  • ABBV (57.7 -4.26%): Announced the acquisition of Pharmacyclics (PCYC); expects the transaction to be highly accretive to both revenue and earnings by 2017; lowered its FY15 EPS guidance to account for dilution from deal.
  • MOS (50.16 -3.35%): Potash names lower following disappointing earnings from Russia's Uralkali (URALL) (POT also lower).
  • AR (37.59 -2.24%): Announced the upsizing of its public offering of common stock of 13.1 mln shares; expects gross proceeds of ~$485 mln.
Mid Cap Gainers
  • GLNG (32.5 +10.13%): Entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Rosneft Oil Company (OJSCY) that foresees cooperation between the companies in the area of floating liquefaction and transportation of natural gas.
  • MR (30.69 +9.53%): Strength attributed to M&A speculation.
  • SCTY (51.49 +2.88%): Piece out suggesting MLP structures would benefit solar companies like SolarCity.
Mid Cap Losers
  • GEF (37.87 -13.26%): Missed Q1 consensus EPS estimates by $0.08, missed on revs; reaffirmed FY15 EPS in-line.
  • MOMO (10.94 -12.83%): Missed Q4 consensus estimates by $0.12, beat on revs; sees Q1 revs in-line.
  • ERJ (32.2 -7.74%): Reported Q4 (Dec) results, missed on revs; guided FY15 revs below consensus; Price target lowered to $36 at UBS.

12:33 pm Piedmont increases quarterly dividend to $0.33/share from $0.32/share; also re-elects Thomas E. Skains as Chairman of the Board (PNY) :  

12:22 pm Small-/mid-caps extend decline off morning highs, major averages still range bound -- Dow +33, S&P +1.4, Nasdaq Comp +11 (:TECHX) :  

12:00 pm Stocks/ETFs that traded to new 52 week highs/lows this session - New highs (158) outpacing new lows (69) (:SCANX) : Stocks that traded to 52 week highs: ABCD, ACAD, ACN, ACT, ADMP, AEO, AET, AFFX, AGN, AJX, ALKS, ALN, ALNY, AMAG, AMPH, ANAC, ANTH, APH, ARRY, AVGO, BAM, BBC, BBP, BDX, BFIN, BIB, BIIB, BIO, BLRX, BLUE, BMRN, BMY, BSQR, BT, BURL, BX, BZM, CBPO, CEMP, CFI, CFN, CHEV, CHFN, CI, CLDN, CLDX, CMCSK, CNC, CODE, COLM, CPIX, CPRX, CRL, CRMD, CRUS, CSV, CSWC, DCM, DEA, DEG, DEPO, DVAX, DXGE, DY, ECOL, ESE, FCB, FLXN, FNRG, FRC, FSL, FV, GB, GHC, GLOB, GTT, GWB, GY, HAIN, HASI, HBI, HLT, HPI, HRTG, HSKA, HSP, IBB, IBP, ICLN, IDCC, IGTE, IIF, INCY, INN, INT, INTL, JCOM, JEQ, JOUT, JTP, JTPY, KR, KYO, LAMR, LII, LLNW, LPSB, LVLT, MACK, MDVN, MEI, MFLX, MKTX, MLR, MNK, MRTX, MXIM, NBIX, NCLH, NLNK, NSAM, NSP, NVDA, NXPI, OLN, OMER, PAM, PCYC, PRXL, PSO, PTX, PUK, QLYS, QURE, RCPT, RHP, RRD, SBFG, SIEN, ST, SWKS, SYNT, TGS, TREX, TSQ, TSRO, TWC, UEPS, USCR, USPH, VMC, VRX, WBB, WETF, WWAV, XL, XPO, ZIOP

Stocks that traded to 52 week lows: AGYS, AHGP, ALIM, AMZG, ANF, BIS, BOCH, BONT, CACQ, CECE, CHK, CTG, DAR, DV, DXM, EAC, EBR, EGI, ELRC, ENOC, ERJ, FENG, FIVE, FPP, FSTR, GEF.B, GES, GLF, GLOW, GNI, GOMO, GRVY, GSOL, HLX, HSBC, I, IGOV, IRET, JOY, KBSF, KEYW, KOF, LTBR, MERU, MNI, NAO, NATR, OPWR, PERF, PGN, PHIIK, PRXI, PSMT, RAVN, RUSHA, SCON, SGF, SIF, STRL, STRS, TDW, TRC, TSU, UG, VALE, VALE.P, VNCE, WTW, XRA

ETFs that traded to 52 week highs: IBB, IYH, PSK, UUP, XBI, XLV

ETFs that traded to 52 week lows: BWX, FXE, JJA

11:59 am Aetna's HealthCare USA of Missouri has been selected by the Missouri Office of Administration to continue to provide access to health care for eligible Missourians (AET) : The new three-year contract is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2015.

11:55 am European Markets Closing Prices (:SUMRX) : European markets are now closed; stock markets across Europe performed as follows:

  • UK's FTSE:+0.6%
  • Germany's DAX:+1.0%
  • France's CAC:+0.9%
  • Spain's IBEX:+0.7%
  • Portugal's PSI:+1.7%
  • Italy's MIB Index:+1.2%
  • Irish Ovrl Index:+0.9%
  • Greece ASE General Index: +1.0%

11:17 am Relative sector weakness (:TECHX) : Sectors that have underperformed on the pullback off the highs include: Semi SMH, Internet FDN, Technology XLK, REITs IYR.

11:14 am Currency Commentary: DXY Remains Bid Ahead of Jobs Number (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index was able to rally to fresh multi-year highs as ECB President Mario Draghi provided more information on the central banks QE program. Also aiding the move in the greenback was a higher than expected revision to the Q4 Unit Labor Costs. This will help raise expectations for tomorrow's Hourly Earnings metric in the jobs report. The market has shown little interest in economic misses though as Initial Claims, Productivity, and Factory Orders all missed expectations. Focus now turns to tomorrow's jobs numbers due out at 8:30am ET. 
  • The euro tumbled to fresh multi-year lows as Mario Draghi announced the latest steps the central bank will take. The program will begin March 9 which was widely expected. Mr. Draghi noted that the central bank would purchase bonds with negative interest rates. He also said that the Greek waivers would remain in place until a program was officially improved. Once the program is approved he signaled that the ECB would reinstate the waiver and accept Greek bonds immediately.  The central bank raised its GDP forecast but lowered the inflation expectations. The only economic data of interest was the Germany Factory Orders which also saw a big miss. The euro is attempting to hold the 1.10 level in trade. 
  • The pound in the mean time has tumbled back to the 1.52 area against the dollar. The Bank of England kept its rates unchanged which was widely expected. The key for markets here will be when the BoE releases its minutes and the voting break down. Sterling is testing the 1.5220 level in early trade.
  • The yen is under selling pressure and testing the key 120 support level. Yen has been in a tight consolidation range but is showing some signs of breaking here. This will have market participants paying close attention to this support test (BONDX, FOREX).

11:13 am Stock indices extend slide off morning highs -- Dow +20, S&P +0.4, Nasdaq Comp +9 (:TECHX) :  

11:06 am Acxiom has expanded its global data partnership with Twitter (TWTR) to augment Twitter's current targeting capabilities for advertising (ACXM) :  

11:01 am S&P +4.1 probes first level resistance (:TECHX) : First level resistance from The Technical Take has been probed in recent trade (session high 2104) with it thus far pausing. The outperforming Nasdaq Comp has reached second level resistance at 4990/4996 (session high 4993). A continued posture for the S&P above the 2100/2099 area would keep a constructive intraday price pattern intact.

11:00 am Zix Corp and Cisco (CSCO) have entered into an OEM relationship for the development and distribution of enhanced email encryption solutions (ZIXI) : The partnership will focus on two solutions in 2015 -- an enhancement of the Cisco IronPort Encryption Appliance and a new solution that integrates proven components of Cisco and Zix technology. Both solutions will be distributed by Cisco.

10:57 am Apr natural gas getting a bid.. hits a new HoD and are now +2.4% at $2.83/MMBtu (:COMDX) :  

10:40 am Amazon.com establishes a new high for the week (AMZN) : Firmer trade this morning has established a new high for the week of 388.40.  Note that its seven session range top and Feb/52-wk peak comes into play modestly above at 389.37. 

10:36 am Catalyst Pharma confirms FDA Orphan Drug Designation of Firdapse for treatment of Congenital Myasthenic Syndromes; confirms information previously reported about results of recent Pre-NDA meeting (CPRX) : The co also confirmed that it has received the formal minutes from the FDA reporting on the discussions at its pre-new drug application (:NDA) meeting held earlier this year and that the minutes of the meeting confirm the information about the results of the meeting previously reported by Catalyst. On February 2, 2015, Catalyst reported that it had held a productive pre-NDA meeting with the FDA regarding Firdapse for the treatment of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (:LEMS) and that, based on the discussions at that meeting

  • Catalyst believes that its Phase 3 clinical program will provide acceptable support for submission of an NDA for Firdapse for LEMS. Catalyst also reported that potential paths forward for one type of congenital myasthenic syndromes were also discussed at the meeting.

10:21 am DJ Utility displaying relative strength (:TECHX) : Noted Monday that the DJ Utility index was probing its 200 day averages (200 sma Monday 278.52, Monday's low 278.80) with its stabilizing above the next two days. This morning its has broken out above its two day range and is displaying relative strength -- AEP, AWK, CNP, D, EIX, EXC, NEE, PCG, PEG.

10:09 am New session highs for Nasdaq Comp +22 and S&P +4.4, Dow +46 vacillating just under its peak (:TECHX) :  

10:03 am Stock indices edge back slightly off highs -- Dow +33, S&P +2.8, Nasdaq Comp +16 (:TECHX) :  

10:01 am UPS announces a major expansion to its International Special Commodities program (UPS) : Now, customers can ship biological substances, dangerous goods in excepted quantities and shipments utilizing dry ice via UPS to more than 20 additional international destinations.

9:54 am Relative sector strength (:TECHX) : Relative strength in Biotech IBB was noted earlier and its continues to move broadly higher. Sectors also outperforming the S&P on a relative basis include: Internet FDN, Health XLV, Software IGV, REITs IYR, Utility XLU and Restaurant. Banks KBE/KRE showing some signs of improving as well in recent action.

9:49 am Dow +19 and S&P +2 hold near flat line on initial pullback and rebound -- Nasdaq Comp +15 (:TECHX) :  

9:47 am Amgen breaks above two week range, works up toward Jan/2015 highs at 161.87 and 162.75 -- session high 161.22 (AMGN) :  

9:41 am Opening Market Summary: Countercyclical Sectors Display Early Strength (:WRAPX) : The major averages began the trading day in the green before slipping from their opening highs. The S&P 500 remains just above its flat line with five sectors showing early gains.

All four countercyclical groups hover in positive territory with utilities (+0.6%) and health care (+0.4%) in the lead. Meanwhile, the consumer discretionary sector (+0.1%) represents the lone advancer on the cyclical side.

On the downside, the energy sector (-0.5%) is the weakest performer as crude oil trades lower by 0.7% at $51.15/bbl.

Treasuries have narrowed their gains with the 10-yr yield now at 2.11% (-1 bp).

The Factory Orders report for January (Briefing.com consensus 0.6%) will be released at 10:00 ET.

9:37 am Cadiz announces the permanent protection of up to 7,400 acres of its private land holdings through the establishment of the Fenner Valley Desert Tortoise Conservation Bank, in eastern San Bernardino County, California (CDZI) : The Bank, approved this week by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, will provide permanent protection of habitat for the desert tortoise, a State of California and federally-listed threatened species.

9:36 am Sector watch (:TECHX) : Sectors firmer in early trade include: Biotech IBB (JUNO, MDVN, ICPT, SGEN, BMRN, CRTX, BLUE, GENE, CLVS), Solar TAN, Social Media SOCL, REITs IYR, Gold Miners GDX.

9:36 am Jones Lang LaSalle announces the acquisition of Nextport, a tenant representation and relocation management business based in Stockholm; terms not disclosed (JLL) :  

9:33 am Stock indices firmer but initial move limited -- Dow +16, S&P +1.9, Nasdaq Comp +12 (:TECHX) :  

9:29 am Antero Resources announced the upsizing of recent public offering of common stock to 13.1 mln shares from 11.5 mln shares; expects gross proceeds of ~$485 mln (AR) :  

9:27 am Kythera Biopharma up 20% in pre-market after FDA releases Briefing docs ahead of 3/9 Advisory Committee meeting (KYTH) : KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals' product candidate, ATX-101, is currently in late-stage clinical development for the reduction of submental fat, which commonly presents as a double chin. KYTHERA submitted its NDA for ATX-101 in May 2014, and was assigned a PDUFA date of May 13, 2015. The FDA's Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee will review the application on March 9, 2015.

  • The Briefing docs, which can be found here, stated that "The currently available data support a favorable benefit-risk assessment for the use of DCA for the improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe convexity or fullness associated with submental fat in adults. No major safety issues associated with the use of DCA have been identified to date."

9:15 am Apollo Commercial Real Estate priced its underwritten public offering of 10 mln shares of common stock for total estimated gross proceeds of ~$170 mln (ARI) :  

9:14 am S&P futures vs fair value: +3.50. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +9.20. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for a higher open with futures on the S&P 500 trading four points above fair value. The benchmark index registered its second consecutive decline yesterday, but that losing streak could be snapped if the market builds on its opening gain.

The overnight session was fairly quiet, but it is worth noting that China has lowered its GDP forecast for 2015 to "about 7.0%" from 7.5% that was expected in 2014. China's Shanghai Composite fell 1.0% following the news.

Meanwhile in Europe, investors heard from a couple major central banks, but there were no surprises on that front. The Bank of England maintained its policy stance, keeping its interest rate and purchasing program at their respective 0.5% and GBP375 billion while the European Central Bank also made no changes to its policy, which was widely expected. Also of note, ECB President Mario Draghi said the central bank will begin its QE program on March 9 and will buy negative-yielding bonds up to the deposit rate, which is currently at -0.2%.  

On the corporate front, Costco (COST 150.25, +3.08) is on course to open higher by 2.1% after beating bottom-line estimates and reporting better than expected same store sales in February while Joy Global (JOY 39.30, -2.83) has given up 6.7% in pre-market after missing estimates and lowering its guidance.

In M&A news, AbbVie (ABBV 57.17, -3.10) has agreed to acquire Pharmacyclics (PCYC 254.97, +24.49) for $261.25/share.  

Treasuries hold modest gains with the 10-yr yield lower by almost two basis points at 2.10%.

The Factory Orders report for January (Briefing.com consensus 0.6%) will be released at 10:00 ET.

9:12 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Ryanair (RYAAY) announced it will open a new base at Berlin (No. 73), from October with 5 based aircraft, an investment of $500m dollars, and launched 16 new routes (22 in total) as part of its Berlin Winter 2015 schedule, which will grow Ryanair's Berlin traffic to 2.6m customers p.a., and support 2,600 "on-site" jobs.
  • Guidewire Software (GWRE) announced that CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer, broadly deployed Guidewire's ClaimCenter to manage its claims operations for all lines of business.
  • CA Technologies (CA) and Tech Mahindra announced they have entered an agreement to develop and deploy end-to-end secured Internet of Things solutions for enterprise customers worldwide.
  • OpenText (OTEX) announced its new contract management solution to automate all contract-related tasks. OpenText Contract Center handles contract processes from the simplest to the most complex workflows by bringing together a complete set of EIM software technologies to manage the contracting process from initial concept through the authoring, negotiation, execution, renewal and retention of contracts.
  • Rocket Fuel (FUEL) announced a new partner certification program that offers Rocket Fuel clients the ability to access more than 100 best-in-class technology and solution providers that span the paid and owned marketing ecosystem, including connected platforms, data for targeting and measurement, attribution technology, publishers, and exchanges serving display, video, mobile, and social media.
  • Exelis (XLS) has received the National Security Agency's "secret and below" certification for a self-encrypting, secure memory stick. The drive is the newest device in a portfolio of NSA-certified Exelis information assurance products offering secure data-at-rest, data-in-transit, communications, networking and storage solutions.
  • Honeywell (HON) Process Solutions announced it has been selected to handle critical project management and engineering for a third oil and natural gas platform that will tap energy reserves off the coast of Vietnam.
  • OmniVision (OVTI) announced that it has partnered with Dahua Technology, a video surveillance solutions provider, to produce the LeChange home camera, a cloud-based camera that ushers in the next-generation of smart home capabilities.
  • SS&C Technologies (SSNC) announced SS&C GlobeOp has created a new group to support fund administration, accounting and reporting for hybrid fund structures.
  • Capricor Therapeutics (CAPR) announced that it is currently enrolling a Phase II clinical trial with Cenderitide, a dual receptor natriuretic peptide agonist that has previously been used in approximately 270 patients including those suffering from acute decompensated heart failure.
  • Perry Ellis (PERY) announces two license agreements in Europe with New Accessories Group; one for cold items under the Farah brand and another for belts under the Original Penguin by Munsingwear brand.
  • ExOne (XONE) announced the upcoming availability of its largest 3D printing system, the Exerial. The Exerial system demonstrates a considerable evolution in ExOne's machine portfolio as the new printer allows customers to engage with the indirect printing technology for industrial series production, beyond the rapid prototyping and small batch production for which the company's other systems are currently being used.

9:10 am Capnia announces the closing of a privately negotiated transaction with certain holders of Series B warrants who agreed to exercise their Series B Warrants to purchase an aggregate of 557,160 shares of Common Stock at an exercise price of $6.50 per share (CAPN) : In connection with this exercise of Series B Warrants, Capnia issued to each investors who exercised Series B Warrants, new warrants (each, a "Series C Warrant") for the number of shares of Common Stock underlying the Series B Warrants that were exercised. Each Series C Warrant will be exercisable at $6.25 per share and will expire on March 5, 2020.

  • Capnia intends to offer to all remaining holders of Series B Warrants pursuant to a formal tender/ registered exchange offer process after the date hereof the opportunity to exercise the Series B Warrants held by them and receive Series C Warrants on the same basis as in the Private Transaction. 
  • The gross proceeds were ~$3.6 mln

9:10 am Attunity acquires Appfluent for total consideration of ~$18.0 million (ATTU) : Appfluent Technology is a provider of data usage analytics for Big Data environments, and the $18 mln consideration is payable in cash and stock, with additional earn-out consideration based on performance milestones

9:08 am Universal Insurance announces acquisition of claims-adjusting company Aplin Peer & Associates; financial details not disclosed (UVE) :  

9:07 am Altria reaffirms guidance for FY15 (Dec) EPS of $2.75-2.80 vs. $2.80 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate (MO) :

  • Co reaffirmed guidance in conjunction with the expiration of its previously announced cash tender offer for any and all of its senior unsecured 9.700% Notes due 2018. 
  • Altria will record a one-time, pre-tax charge against reported earnings in the first quarter of 2015 of approximately $230 million, or $0.07 per share, reflecting the loss on early extinguishment of debt related to the tender offer.

9:07 am Dot Hill Systems beats by $0.01, beats on revs; guides Q1 EPS in-line, revs in-line; guides FY15 EPS in-line, revs in-line; Highest revenue quarter in six years (HILL) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.13 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.12; revenues rose 17.5% year/year to $69.1 mln vs the $67.97 mln consensus.

  • Co issues in-line guidance for Q1, sees EPS of $0.04-0.07 vs. $0.05 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees Q1 revs of $55-59 mln vs. $56.58 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.
  • Co issues in-line guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $0.25-0.35 vs. $0.29 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 revs of $230-270 mln vs. $246.64 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

9:02 am Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $267 mln contract by the U.S. Navy to develop and manufacture the next-generation surface electronic warfare system (NOC) :  

9:02 am Microvision licenses its picop display technology to fortune global 100 partner; agreement includes payment of an $8 mln up-front license fee (MVIS) : Co announces it has signed a multi-year license agreement with its Fortune Global 100 partner for MicroVision PicoP display technology. The license agreement grants the Fortune Global 100 co a non-exclusive license to MicroVision PicoP display technology for use in display modules it manufactures and sells. As part of the agreement, MVIS expects to receive an $8 mln up-front license fee later this month. In addition to the initial up-front license fee, MVIS will also receive royalties for display modules sold by the Fortune Global 100 company. Further terms of the license agreement are confidential for competitive reasons. 

8:57 am S&P futures vs fair value: +4.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +9.20. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures hover four points above fair value.

Markets in the Asia Pacific region were mostly lower on Thursday following China's tempered GDP growth outlook for 2015. China is targeting 7.0% growth versus 7.5% in 2014. That is the country's lowest growth target in 11 years, according to Premier Li Keqiang.

  • In economic data: 
    • Australia's January trade deficit widened to AUD980 million from AUD503 million (expected -AUD 950 million) as imports rose 3.0% month-over-month (prior -1.0%) and exports increased 1.0% month-over-month (prior +1.0%). Separately, January retail sales +0.4% month-over-month (expected +0.4%; prior +0.2%) 
------
  • Japan's Nikkei increased 0.3% and closed near its highs for the day with the help of the consumer non-cyclical (+1.5%) and industrial (+0.5%) sectors. Leading gainers included Eisai Co. Ltd (+7.2%), Taiyo Yuden Co (+6.3%), Tory Industries (+4.8%), Kansai Electric Power (+4.4%), and Sumitomo Heavy Industries (+4.4%). Suzuki Motor Corp. (-3.7%) and Olympus Corp. (-2.9%) were the largest decliners in the Nikkei. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1.1% in a day that was accented with steady selling pressure. The financial sector (-1.0%) was the most influential drag on the proceedings. HSBC Holdings (-2.7%), AIA Group (-2.6%), and Bank of Communications (-2.2%) were among the top 10 decliners, along with Galaxy Entertainment (-2.6%) and Sands China (-2.3%), which continue to slide on Macau visitation issues. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite dropped 1.0% in the wake of the government's reduced GDP growth target of 7.0% for 2015. Laggards in the Chinese market included the communication (-1.2%), financial (-0.8%), and industrial (-0.5%) sectors. Leading individual decliners were Zhejiang WMWH Industry (-7.2%), Glarun Technology Co. (-5.0%), Shaanxi Aerospace Power Hi-Tech Co (-4.7%), Xi'an Typical Industries (-4.5%), and First Tractor Co (-4.4%). 
Major European indices trade higher across the board with France's CAC (+0.9%) in the lead. In central bank news, the Bank of England maintained its policy stance, keeping its interest rate and purchasing program at their respective 0.5% and GBP375 billion. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank also made no changes to its policy, which was widely expected. Also of note, Switzerland's government spokesperson has pushed back against reports suggesting the Swiss National Bank could introduce a new cap on the franc.
  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Eurozone Retail PMI ticked down to 46.4 from 46.6 
    • Germany's January Factory Orders -3.9% (expected -1.0%; prior 4.4%) 
    • UK's Halifax House Price Index -0.3% month-over-month (consensus -0.2%; prior 1.9%); +8.3% year-over-year (expected 8.5%; last 8.5%) 
    • France's Unemployment Rate ticked up to 10.4% from 10.3%, as expected 
    • Italy's Q4 GDP was flat quarter-over-quarter; -0.5% year-over-year (consensus -0.3%; last -0.5%) 
------
  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.5% with Aviva in the lead. The insurer has spiked 6.1% after reporting better than expected results. Peers Friends Life Group (+5.5%) and Standard Life (+2.3%) also outperform while HSBC and RSA Insurance lag with respective losses of 2.4% and 0.9%. 
  • Germany's DAX has added 0.8% amid broad strength. Adidas has jumped 3.8% following its upbeat outlook while Continental, ThyssenKrupp, and Siemens hold gains between 1.5% and 1.9%. 
  • In France, the CAC trades up 0.9% with all but three components in the green. Defense contractors Airbus and Safran outperform with respective gains of 4.5% and 2.4% while Gemalto is the weakest performer. The tech stock has given up 2.5%.

8:54 am MiX Telematics reports that is in the process of investigating strategic alternatives (MIXT) : "Shareholders are advised that MiX Telematics is in the process of investigating strategic alternatives relating to the company, the full impact of which may have a material effect on the price of the company's securities."

8:45 am Kroger beats by $0.14, reports revs in-line; guides FY16 EPS above consensus (KR) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $1.04 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.14 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.90; revenues rose 8.5% year/year to $25.21 bln vs the $25.12 bln consensus.

  • identical supermarket sales growth, without fuel +6.0%
Co issues upside guidance for FY16, sees EPS of $3.80-3.90 vs. $3.72 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. This is consistent with the company's long-term net earnings per diluted share growth rate of 8 -- 11%, growing off of 2014 adjusted earnings of $3.52 per diluted share. Shareholder return will be further enhanced by a dividend which is expected to increase over time. For 2015, Kroger expects fuel margins to return to historical averages, a lower LIFO charge, and no comparable contributions to the pension and foundation; as a result, the company expects to achieve near the middle of the guidance range.
  • Kroger anticipates identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, of ~3.0% to 4.0% for 2015. This range takes into account the expectation of lower inflation during the year. 

8:42 am European Markets Update: FTSE +0.3%, DAX +0.5%, CAC +0.6% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices trade higher across the board with France's CAC (+0.6%) in the lead. In central bank news, the Bank of England maintained its policy stance, keeping its interest rate and purchasing program at their respective 0.5% and GBP375 billion. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank also made no changes to its policy, which was widely expected. Also of note, Switzerland's government spokesperson has pushed back against reports suggesting the Swiss National Bank could introduce a new cap on the franc.

  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Eurozone Retail PMI ticked down to 46.4 from 46.6 
    • Germany's January Factory Orders -3.9% (expected -1.0%; prior 4.4%) 
    • UK's Halifax House Price Index -0.3% month-over-month (consensus -0.2%; prior 1.9%); +8.3% year-over-year (expected 8.5%; last 8.5%) 
    • France's Unemployment Rate ticked up to 10.4% from 10.3%, as expected 
    • Italy's Q4 GDP was flat quarter-over-quarter; -0.5% year-over-year (consensus -0.3%; last -0.5%) 
------
  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.3% with Aviva in the lead. The insurer has spiked 6.1% after reporting better than expected results. Peers Friends Life Group (+5.5%) and Standard Life (+2.3%) also outperform while HSBC and RSA Insurance lag with respective losses of 2.4% and 0.9%. 
  • Germany's DAX has added 0.5% amid broad strength. Adidas has jumped 3.8% following its upbeat outlook while Continental, ThyssenKrupp, and Siemens hold gains between 1.5% and 1.9%. 
  • In France, the CAC trades up 0.6% with all but three components in the green. Defense contractors Airbus and Safran outperform with respective gains of 4.5% and 2.4% while Gemalto is the weakest performer. The tech stock has given up 2.5%.

8:42 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Benefitfocus (BNFT) announced that Facchina Construction Group has selected BENEFITFOCUS Marketplace and the BENEFITFOCUS Benefits Service Center to help streamline benefits administration and enrollment for its multi-lingual workforce.
  • Mad Catz Interactive (MCZ) announced an agreement with Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. to launch Rock Band 4 later this year for the PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft.
  • MobileIron (MOBL) announced that PCL Construction has selected its enterprise mobility management platform to secure and manage apps and content on 4,500 mobile devices. 
  • EarthLink Holdings (ELNK) has introduced a new Managed Network Service designed to optimize network performance, provide proactive monitoring and network performance analysis, and relieve the daily operational burden of network management.
  • CGI (GIB) announced that it has been selected by the Virginia State Corporation Commission to partner on Commission 2.0, a major initiative to modernize the SCC's systems, processes, and reporting to better serve the needs of Virginia's businesses.  The contract is valued at $32.5 million over four years.
  • FuelCell Energy (FCEL) announced the continued progress in the commercialization of an affordable and efficient carbon capture solution utilizing fuel cells, following thousands of hours of testing with simulated flue gas of a coal-fired power plant. Results of this study support cost targets below the U.S. Department of Energy threshold of $40/ton.
  • RELM Wireless (RWC) announced that it received orders totaling approximately $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The orders are for RELM's D-Series and KNG-Series Digital P-25 mobile and portable radios with accessories.  It is anticipated that the orders will be fulfilled during the first quarter of 2015.
  • Asure Software (ASUR) announced it has consolidated its Framingham, Mass. and Warrick, R.I. offices into a single location in Dedham, Mass, located at 980-990 Washington St., suite 216. 

8:37 am Gapping down (:SCANX) : Gapping down
In reaction to disappointing earnings/guidance
: ECR -16.6%, DRWI -11.1%, CONN -10.1%, (reports February total same store sales fell 5.8% y/y; 60-plus day delinquency rate of 9.2%), PCOM -9.8%, MOMO -7.4%, SMTC -6.1%, ERJ -5%, WTI -4.1%, CCRN -4%, JOY -4%, HRB -3.9%, ALIM -2.1%, ACHN -2.1%, CPE -1.3%, CNQ -1.3%, ALSK -1.2%

M&A news: ABBV -5.1% (to acquire PCYC transaction valued at $261.25 pershare)

Other news: VNDA -6.9% (announces top-line results of the Phase II proof of concept clinical study investigating the safety and efficacy of tradipitant as a monotherapy in the treatment of chronic pruritus in patients with atopic dermatitis), ECA -4.1% (announces agreement with underwriters syndicate, for bought deal purchase of ~85.62 mln common shares of its common stock for C$14.60/share; ~C$1.25 billion in gross proceeds expected ), NSR -4.1% (releases statment on the LNPA Vendor Selection), ARI -3.3% (announces public offering of 10 mln shares of common stock), COMM -2.2% (files for common stock offering by selling shareholders; announces sale of 20 mln shares of common stock an affiliate of the Carlyle Group), CNHI -1.1% (in sympathy with JOY earnings), CAT -0.9% (in sympathy with JOY earnings)

Analyst comments: SALT -3.6% (downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse), ANF -2% (downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura), QSR -1.9% (downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman), MPEL -1.5% (downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities), MCD -0.8% (downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray), INXN -0.8% (downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity)

8:35 am Gapping up (:SCANX) : Gapping up
In reaction to strong earnings/guidance
: BIOL +27.7%, IFMI +24.2%, XUE +12%, PEIX +10.7%, VSLR +9%, HRTG +8%, MLR +6.9%, AV +5.9%, RNDY +5.7%, CSIQ +5.2%, DAR +3.7%, MNK +3.3%, ALG +2.2%, COST +1.9%, SQNM +1.4%, BKCC +1.4%, TSE +1.3%, AXAS +1.2%, OSIR +1.1%, CIEN +1%, .

M&A news: PCYC +10% (AbbVie (ABBV) to acquire Pharmacyclics; transaction valued at $261.25 pershare),ARWR +8.5% (acquires Novartis' (NVS) RNAi R&D portfolio),INSM +3.9% (Daily Mail discusses takeover speculation in INSM; RHHBY, MRK, AZN are possible suitors),MNK +3.3% (will acquire Ikaria from a Madison Dearborn-led investor group in a transaction valued at ~$2.3 bln),MAC +2% (may be a takeover target by Simon Property Group (SPG), according to WSJ),GDP +1% (light volume but saw late-day gain following reports co could consider going private; downgraded by boutique firm this morning)

Select Bio/pharma related names showing strength: APPY +10.2%, AVEO +8.4%, KYTH +5.6%, ZIOP +5.3%, BIOC +3.8%, ARIA +3.5%, AEZS +3.3%, OREX +2.5%, CLRX +2.4%, CYTX +-3.5%

Select oil/gas related names showing strength: REXX +3.9%, SFY +3.8%, LINE +2.3%, WLT +2.3%, STO +1.3%

Other news: EYES +19% (announces successful first implants of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System at two new centers in Italy),TENX +11.6% (highlights two recently-published scientific articles on the potential benefits of its lead candidate, levosimendan, in patients undergoing cardiac surgery),NAVB +9.9% (Navidea Biopharma and Norgine BV affiliate SpePharm AG announce European Commercial Partnership regarding Lymphoseek, also reported earnings),ONCY +8.9% (announced that an oral presentation by the Company's research collaborators in Professor Kevin Harrington's lab at the Institute for Cancer Research),TGTX +7.3% (discloses terms of Global Collaboration with Checkpoint Therapeutics; to make an up-front payment of $500k),CPRX +4% (Amifampridine phosphate for the treatment of congenital myasthenic syndromes granted FDA Orphan Designation status),NBG +3.5% (strong EU mkts today),GLDD +2.9% (awarded ~$134.5 mln Army contract),SFM +1.8% (Sprouts Farmers Market announced the launch of a public offering of 15,847,800 shares of its common stock held by affiliates of Apollo Global Management),.

Analyst comments: CLDN +14.1% (initiated with a Buy at ROTH Capital, tgt $70),GDOT +5.4% (upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse), DNKN +2.8% (upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman), AEO +2.4% (upgraded to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley & Co; upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel),KAR +1.7% (initiated with a Buy at Sun Trust Rbsn Humphrey)

8:35 am Capricor Therapeutics has been approved to begin trading its common stock on the NASDAQ Capital Market; will begin trading under the same symbol, CAPR, at the opening of market hours on Monday, March 9, 2015 (CAPR) :  

8:34 am Bio-Reference Labs misses on EPS, misses on revs (BRLI) : Reports Q1 (Jan) earnings of $0.24 per share. The company had a $0.03/share negative impact from increased legal fees due to the now settled BRCA related litigations. The Capital IQ Consensus Estimate is $0.32; revenues rose 15.2% year/year to $208.8 mln vs the $214.43 mln consensus.

  • Gross profits on revenues for Q1FY15 were $89,755, resulting in a margin for gross profit on revenues of 43%, versus $72,154 for Q1FY14, which resulted in a margin of 40%.

  • Cash Flow from Operations for Q1FY15 was slightly greater than $10,000.

  • Days Sales Outstanding (:DSO) was 113 days compared to Q1FY14 DSO of 111 days.

8:34 am U.S. Physical Therapy beats by $0.01, beats on revs; guides FY15 EPS below consensus; co raises quarterly dividend by 25% to $0.15 (USPH) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.41 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.40; revenues rose 15.7% year/year to $79.4 mln vs the $76.49 mln consensus. The co is increasing its quarterly dividend by 25% to $.15 from $.12. The first quarterly dividend of 2015 will be paid on April 3, 2015 to shareholders of record as of March 20, 2015.

  • Co issues downside guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $1.80-1.86 vs. $1.93 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.
  • Although the Company's new patient referrals thus far in 2015 have been good, the severe winter weather in many parts of the country in January and February negatively affected the number of patient visits by more than 16,000 with an estimated negative earnings impact of $0.05 to $0.07 per share. 

8:33 am S&P futures vs fair value: +4.50. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +9.70. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade five points above fair value.

The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 320,000 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 295,000. Today's tally was above the unrevised prior week count of 313,000. As for continuing claims, they rose to 2.421 million from 2.404 million.

Productivity data for the fourth quarter showed a decrease of 2.2%, which was worse than the 1.8% decrease that had been reported in the preliminary reading. However, it was above the 2.3% decrease that had been expected by the Briefing.com consensus. Unit labor costs for the fourth quarter were revised higher to reflect an increase of 4.1% after they had reportedly increased 2.7% in the preliminary reading. Economists polled by Briefing.com had expected that unit labor costs would be revised up to 2.9%.

8:32 am ANI Pharma announced it has acquired the abbreviated new drug application for Flecainide Acetate tablets, previously marketed by Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) (ANIP) : The tablet agreement includes the 50mg, 100mg and 150mg doses 

8:32 am Market View: Front-month Mar. eMini stock-index futures hold a modest bid above fair values following the 8:30 a.m. ET econ. data as ECB Pres. Draghi press conference begins (:TECHX) :

  • ESh5 now @ 2101.50 +5.00

  • YMh5 now @ 18133 +47

  • NQh5 now @ 4455.00 +10.75

8:31 am GenCorp subsidiary Easton Development Company announced its intent to sell 700 acres of land in Northern California for $57 million (GY) : The 703 acres are known as Hillsborough and represent a part of the 6,000 acre Easton Master Plan.

8:31 am Marathon Patent Group announces its wholly-owned subsidiary TLI Communications GmbH has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google (GOOG) in the Regional Court of Munich in Germany (MARA) : TLI Communications is asserting infringement of the German part of European patent 0 814 611 B1 by the Internet services "YouTube" and "Google+" operated by the Defendant, as well as the associated application software for smartphones and tablet computers.

8:31 am Commscope priced 20 mln shares of its common stock by an affiliate of The Carlyle Group (CG) at a price of $30.75 per share (COMM) :  

8:29 am On The Wires (HQCL) :

  • Zillow (Z) announced the launch of Zillow Tech Connect: Reports, the third and newest pillar of the popular Zillow Tech Connect program. Through Zillow Tech Connect: Reports, MLSs and brokerages who send their listings directly to Zillow will have access to expanded reporting on their listings.
  • 1366 Technologies and Hanwha Q CELLS (HQCL) announced that they have entered into a long-term strategic partnership to jointly advance the efficiency and quality of solar cells while dramatically reducing their costs. The two companies will collaborate on the development of 1366's proprietary Direct Wafer Technology with the intent to commercialize and use Direct Wafers in Hanwha Q CELLS' world-renowned solar cells.
  • AirMedia Group (AMCN) has recently renewed its concession rights contract with JCDecaux Momentum Shanghai Airport Advertising Co., Ltd. to continue to operate digital media in Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport until February 2018.
  • Jive Software (JIVE) announced that leading higher education software and services provider Ellucian selected the Jive-x external community solution to power its new customer community. Named "eCommunities," this self-service solution empowers all college and university administrative offices with one place to connect, communicate and collaborate on best practices that help further the mission of higher education.
  • Sequential Brands Group (SQBG) announced several new initiatives for Ellen Tracy including the launch of a global marketing campaign celebrating the brand's 65th Anniversary and women's work in the world, and expanded distribution in key categories including sportswear in better department and online retail stores.
  • Glu Mobile (GLUU) announced the availability of Blood & Glory: Immortals on the App Store and Google Play.
  • Proofpoint (PFPT) announced the availability of the Nexgate Social Threat Center, a real-time social media security operations console that aggregates security intelligence across social accounts and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, etc.).

8:26 am Sun Life says it's on track to exceed 2015 earnings objective of $1.85 billion (SLF) : Ahead of today's investor day, SLF says it is on track to exceed 2015 earnings objective of $1.85 billion.

  • Additionally, co announced the following medium-term financial objectives for the Company: 
    • Annual underlying earnings per share (EPS) growth of 8-10%,
    • Underlining return on equity (:ROE) in the range of 12-14%, 
    • Common share dividend payout ratio of 40-50% of underlying net income

8:22 am Quest Diagnostics commences a cash tender offer for up to $250 mln of various senior notes and proposes new senior notes offering of $1.2 bln (DGX) :

  • Senior notes available for tender include its 6.950% Senior Notes due 2037 and 5.750% Senior Notes due 2040
  • The newly issued senior notes will create proceeds to be used together with borrowings from its secured receivables credit facility to:
    • Fund the purchase for cash of up to $250 million in combined aggregate principal amount of its 6.950% Senior Notes due 2037 
    • Fund the purchase of 5.750% Senior Notes due 2040 and to redeem 
    • All $500 million of its outstanding 5.450% Senior Notes due 2015
    • All $375 million of its outstanding 6.400% Senior Notes due 2017 and 
    • $150 million of its outstanding 3.200% Senior Notes due 2016

8:21 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • CACI International (CACI) announced it was awarded a $43 million task order contract to continue providing engineering support, including modeling and simulation of sensor and imaging systems, for the U.S. Army's Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (:NVESD). This 12-month contract, awarded under the Strategic Services Sourcing contract vehicle, sustains CACI's business in its C4ISR market area.
  • BorgWarner (BWA) is expanding capacity in Ningbo, China, with a new production line for its latest exhaust gas recirculation valves. The new line will meet increasing customer demand through localized production. BorgWarner expects to supply its latest EGR technology to a large Chinese automaker beginning in May 2015.
  • PROS (PRO) announced a partnership with SpringCM to integrate the SpringCM contract management software with the PROS Cameleon solutions. The combination will be designed to provide customers with the only end-to-end opportunity-to-revenue platform -- with CPQ, price optimization and contract management -- for their CRM environments, such as salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Western Union (WU) and bpost, the leading postal services operator for Belgium, announced the expansion of their long-standing relationship under a renewed agreement.
  • NV5 Holdings (NVEE) announced that it has been awarded an on-call services contract with Xcel Energy (XEL) to provide gas pipeline design, surveying, and environmental services over 5 years. NV5's staff in Colorado will be supporting Xcel Energy's Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Departments in work relating to the construction and maintenance of pipelines, the operation of processes and controls, the inspection of cathodic protection and the implementation of integrity management programs.
  • Axcelis Technologies (ACLS) announced the appointment of Doug Moran as vice president, supply chain. In this role, Doug will be responsible for overseeing the Company's complete supply chain and planning functions. 
  • Haemonetics (HAE) announced that CSL Plasma, Inc. has selected Haemonetics' Next Generation Donor Management System as its future system for managing more than 100 plasma donation centers across the U.S. and Europe.  
  • Semtech (SMTC) announced that Actility has been selected for LoRaWAN deployment by three IoT network operators, including French postal service La Poste, marine electronics leader NKE Electronics and telecom operator Swisscom.
  • I-5 Publishing and Trupanion (TRUP) announced a new alliance that brings together animal rescues, shelters, and breeders to provide medical insurance to pets available on I-5 Publishing's new pet finding website.
  • Salesforce (CRM) launched Salesforce Marketing Cloud Predictive Decisions. With Predictive Decisions, marketers can now harness the power of data science to analyze customer engagement and proactively deliver new recommended content, products or offers to customers, creating highly personalized journeys across channels at scale.
  • NBCUniversal (CMCSA) and Gray Television (GTN) have entered into an agreement that will expand NBCUniversal's TV Everywhere offering of local NBC linear streams beyond the NBC-owned stations for the first time. The agreement enables Gray to include the live linear simulcasts of its 24 NBC affiliated television stations, including NBC network and local programming, as part of NBC's TV Everywhere mobile and online platforms.

8:20 am Heartland Express priced its secondary offering of 3.25 mln shares of common stock by a selling stockholder at a price to the public of $23.75 per share (HTLD) :  

8:16 am Diamond Resorts priced its upsized underwritten public offering of 6.7 mln shares of its common stock by certain selling stockholders at a price of $33.75 per share (DRII) : The offering was increased from the original planned 4,833,000 shares by selling shareholders

  • The co has agreed to purchase from the underwriter 1,515,582 of the shares of common stock being sold in the offering at the price per share at which the underwriter is purchasing shares from the selling stockholders.

8:14 am Resolute Energy misses by $0.15, misses on revs (REN) : Reports Q4 (Dec) loss of $0.23 per share, $0.15 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.08); revenues fell 28.9% year/year to $65.9 mln vs the $75.42 mln consensus. 

  • Co announced record quarterly production of 13,341 Boe per day 
  • "During the fourth quarter of 2014, we spud 3 gross (1.9 net) horizontal wells in the Delaware Basin and we participated in drilling and completing 1 gross (0.1 net) non-operated well."

8:08 am Avago Tech increases quarterly interim dividend to $0.38/share from $0.35/share (AVGO) :  

8:06 am VolitionRx has initiated a pilot study to assess the feasibility of its proprietary NuQ assays in detecting prostate cancer (VNRX) : The study is in collaboration with ImmuneHealth, a global biomarker contract research organization, and is taking place in Belgium. In the prospective study, 120 blood samples will be collected from patients across four Belgian hospitals and analyzed by Belgium-based ImmuneHealth using VolitionRx's NuQ assays, which are based on the Company's proprietary Nucleosomics technology.

8:05 am Perficient beats by $0.02, beats on revs; guides Q1 revs in-line; guides FY15 EPS in-line, revs in-line (PRFT) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.36 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.02 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.34; revenues rose 29.0% year/year to $125.8 mln vs the $114.14 mln consensus.

  • Co issues in-line guidance for Q1, sees Q1 revs of $107.0-116.5 mln vs. $114.32 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.
  • Co issues in-line guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $1.38-1.49, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $1.43 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 revs of $470-505 mln vs. $487.69 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

8:05 am CB&I has been awarded a contract valued at ~$60 mln by JGSK JV (CBI) : The project scope includes the engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction of 39 storage tanks and 2 spheres for the Clean Fuel Project, a major initiative of Kuwait National Petroleum Company to upgrade and expand two existing KNPC refineries.

8:05 am Merck announces results from two post-hoc analyses of the TRA 2 P TIMI 50 trial of ZONTIVITY, one of the largest secondary prevention studies of an antiplatelet medicine (MRK) :

  • In the first post-hoc subgroup, among the 3,787 patients whose qualifying diagnosis for the TRA 2 P TIMI 50 trial was symptomatic PAD, a total of 109 ALI events occurred during the trial. The majority of ALI events were due to acute surgical graft thrombosis or in situ thrombosis in a native vessel. In this post-hoc subgroup analysis, researchers found that in patients with symptomatic PAD, adding ZONTIVITY to standard care yielded a 42% relative risk reduction in the incidence of ALI versus aspirin and/or clopidogrel alone. 
  • In the second post-hoc subgroup analysis of 5,845 patients in TRA 2 P with a history of PAD, ZONTIVITY vs. placebo, added to aspirin and/or clopidogrel, showed a consistent pattern of reduction in the need for peripheral revascularization among the various indications for PR captured by the analysis. This included a reduction in PR for the treatment of claudication. Adding ZONTIVITY also reduced the rate of surgical PR procedures. ~20% of the 5,845 patients included in this analysis had a history of stroke or TIA, which are contraindications to use of ZONTIVITY. 

8:04 am Independence Contract Drilling beats by $0.01, beats on revs (ICD) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.02 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.01; revenues rose 75.1% year/year to $23.0 mln vs the $21.7 mln consensus.

  • "Although market conditions have significantly deteriorated, resulting in a rapid decline in U.S. land rig counts and dayrates, our balance sheet and backlog provide a solid base for ICD to successfully navigate through the current down cycle and to take advantage of opportunities as market conditions improve. For 2015, we plan to deliver three new ShaleDriller rigs that are currently supported by multi-year contracts, and defer all additional newbuild activities until 2016."

8:04 am TearLab has entered into a term loan agreement with CRG and certain of its affiliate funds; provides with up to $35 mln of available borrowing capacity (TEAR) : Under the terms of the Agreement, CRG will initially provide $15 million. Up to $20 million of additional funding will be available to TearLab, at its option, through September 2016, subject to the satisfaction of certain revenue milestones and other borrowing conditions. The Agreement has a term of six years and bears interest at 13% per annum, with quarterly, interest-only payments for the first four years.

8:04 am Ares Management misses by $0.15, misses on revs (ARES) : Reports Q4 (Dec) ENI earnings of $0.27 per share, $0.15 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.42; revenues fell 6.9% year/year to $230.6 mln vs the $272.2 mln consensus. 

  • Total assets under management increased to $81.8 bln, a 10.5% increase year over year. 
  • $3.3 bln in gross capital raised in Q4 2014 with ~$16.5 bln raised during the last year. 
  • Management fees reached 88.7% of total fee revenue for the three months ended December 31, 2014 and 89.3% of total fee revenue for the year ended December 31, 2014.

8:03 am BlackRock Kelso beats by $0.06, beats on revs (BKCC) : Reports Q4 (Dec) adj. net investment income of $0.26 per share, $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.20; total investment income rose 14.8% year/year to $37.9 mln vs the $32.33 mln consensus.

8:03 am Pilgrim's Pride prices $500 million senior unsecured notes offering due 2025, at 5.750% (PPC) :

  • Co announced it has priced an offering of $500.0 mln aggregate principal amount of Senior Unsecured Notes due 2025 to qualified institutional buyers in accordance with Rule 144A and Regulation S under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
  • The Notes will bear interest at a rate of 5.750% per year, payable semi-annually in arrears on March 15 and Sept 15 of each year, beginning on Sept 15, 2015.
  • The Notes will be issued at a price of 100.000% (at par value) of the face amount in the private placement. The Notes will initially be guaranteed only by Pilgrim's Pride of West Virginia, Inc. The offering is expected to close on March 11, 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.

8:02 am Second Sight Medical Products announces successful first implants of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System at two new centers in Italy (EYES) : Co announced that two newly approved centers, located in Camposampiero and Florence, have successfully completed their first commercial implants of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System in patients with outer retinal degeneration.

8:02 am Ironwood Pharma announced that Phase I dosing in clinical study of IW-1973 has begun (IRWD) :

  • IW-1973 is the first clinical compound in a broad, pharmacologically-differentiated library of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulators discovered by Ironwood.
  • Data is expected in the second half of 2015. Ironwood expects to advance a second sGC stimulator, IW-1701, into a Phase I clinical study later this year.

8:01 am Iao Kun Group announces unaudited Rolling Chip Turnover for the month of February 2015 at the co's VIP rooms in Macau was $0.63 bln, down 64% year-over-year (IKGH) : Co announces unaudited Rolling Chip Turnover for the month of February 2015 at the company's VIP rooms in Macau was US$0.63 bln, down 64% year-over-year, compared to $1.73 bln for the month of February 2014. Win rate for the month of February 2015 was 4.28%. 

8:01 am Medbox issues response to announcement of Lizada Capital's agreement with shareholder; board and management team are not a party to, nor have they completed the review of an agreement announced yesterday by majority shareholder Vincent Mehdizade (MDBX) :

  • Medbox, Inc., its board of directors and management team are not a party to, nor have they completed the review of an agreement announced yesterday by majority shareholder Vincent Mehdizadeh, which would result in the transfer of the majority of Mehdizadeh's Medbox shares to Lizada Capital.
  • While the Medbox board of directors and management team believe the agreement between Mehdizadeh and Lizada could be favorable to the company and its shareholders, and that Lizada is a viable strategic partner that could assist with fostering the company's strategic plan, it is still subject to finalization and customary approvals.

8:01 am Great Lakes Dredge & Dock confirms $134.5 mln award for Savannah Harbor expansion project (GLDD) :  

7:54 am S&P futures vs fair value: +2.90. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +6.00. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures hold modest gains amid upbeat action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover three points above fair value after climbing off their lows at the start of the European session.

Released not long ago, the Challenger Job Cuts report for February showed a 20.9% increase in layoffs to follow last month's 17.6% rise.

Weekly Initial Claims (Briefing.com consensus 295K) and Q4 Productivity (consensus -2.3%)/Unit Labor Costs data (consensus 2.9%) will be released at 8:30 ET while the Factory Orders report for January (Briefing.com consensus 0.6%) will be released at 10:00 ET.

Treasuries hold slim losses with the 10-yr yield higher by a basis point at 2.13%.

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • Canadian Solar (CSIQ 31.60, +1.42): +4.7% after its upbeat Q1 revenue guidance overshadowed a bottom-line miss and cautious guidance for the fiscal year. 
  • Ciena (CIEN 21.10, +0.50): +2.4% after beating bottom-line estimates on light revenue. 
  • Costco (COST 151.00, +3.83): +2.6% after beating bottom-line estimates and reporting better than expected same store sales in February. 
  • Joy Global (JOY 39.00, -3.13): -7.4% after missing estimates and lowering its guidance.
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended mixed. China's Shanghai Composite -1.0%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng -1.0%, and Japan's Nikkei +0.3% 
    • In economic data: 
      • Australia's January trade deficit widened to AUD980 million from AUD503 million (expected -AUD 950 million) as imports rose 3.0% month-over-month (prior -1.0%) and exports increased 1.0% month-over-month (prior +1.0%). Separately, January retail sales +0.4% month-over-month (expected +0.4%; prior +0.2%)
    • In news: 
      • In China, the National People's Congress opened with Premier Li Keqiang announcing the official GDP forecast for 2015 at "around 7.0%," representing a slowdown from last year's 7.5%. Meanwhile, CPI is expected to increase 3.0% in 2015.
  • Major European indices trade higher across the board. France's CAC +0.9%, Germany's DAX +0.8%, and UK's FTSE +0.4%. Elsewhere, Spain's IBEX +0.5% and Italy's MIB +0.8%
    • Economic data was limited: 
      • Eurozone Retail PMI ticked down to 46.4 from 46.6 
      • Germany's January Factory Orders -3.9% (expected -1.0%; prior 4.4%) 
      • UK's Halifax House Price Index -0.3% month-over-month (consensus -0.2%; prior 1.9%); +8.3% year-over-year (expected 8.5%; last 8.5%) 
      • France's Unemployment Rate ticked up to 10.4% from 10.3%, as expected 
      • Italy's Q4 GDP was flat quarter-over-quarter; -0.5% year-over-year (consensus -0.3%; last -0.5%) 
    • Among news of note: 
      • The Bank of England maintained its policy stance, keeping its interest rate and purchasing program at their respective 0.5% and GBP375 billion. 
      • Switzerland's government spokesperson has pushed back against reports suggesting the Swiss National Bank could introduce a new cap on the franc.

7:49 am Newfield Expl announces it is commencing a public offering of $500 mln of Senior Notes due 2026 (NFX) : Co intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, along with cash on hand or borrowings under its revolving credit facility, to redeem its outstanding 6?% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2020.

7:49 am Tenax Therapeutics highlights two recently-published scientific articles on the potential benefits of its lead candidate, levosimendan, in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. (TENX) : The highlights include :

  • "Clinical studies show that levosimendan effectively improves general and pulmonary haemodynamics in patients undergoing cardiac surgery, thereby reducing the need for inotropic agents and mechanical circulatory support, and additionally optimising renal and hepatic function. In general, the length of stay in the ICU and in the hospital is shortened. Overall, levosimendan treatment is considered as a kind of 'safety net' in the surgical setting." 
  • "A Bayesian network meta-analysis on the effect of inodilatory agents on mortality," British Journal of Anaesthesia; Greco, et al. Dr. Greco and his co-authors published the findings of a meta-analysis they conducted to assess differences in mortality associated with various inodilator products that are commonly used in critical care patients. Their study included 46 trials published between 1995-2014 and concluded that levosimendan appears to be the most efficacious inodilator product to improve survival when used in cardiac surgery patients."

7:40 am Forestar reports Q4 EPS of $0.32, ex-items, may not compare to ($0.03) Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; revs declined 18% YoY to $80.3 mln vs $66.39 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate (FOR) : "Real estate markets continue to show steady demand for residential lots and multifamily units. The recent decline in oil prices may impact near-term job growth and housing demand in Texas, particularly in Houston, where the energy industry has generated significant job growth over the past several years. Despite lower oil prices, Texas markets are still expected to experience positive but slowing job growth. In addition, new home inventories in Texas remain below equilibrium levels and housing costs remain very affordable relative to other markets. Our communities in the major markets of Texas are well located in areas of favorable job and population growth, which are the principal drivers of future housing demand. In addition, we continue to grow our real estate business through strategic and disciplined investments in attractive growth markets outside of Texas, recently adding new communities in Nashville and Charlotte."

7:40 am Baytex Energy Trust beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; 2015 production guidance remains at 84,000 to 88,000 boe/d (BTE) : Reports Q4 (Dec) funds from operations of CC$1.47 per share, CC$0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of CC$1.46; revenues rose 42.8% year/year to CC$472.4 mln vs the CC$469.95 mln consensus.

  • Generated production of 92,220 boe/d (85% oil and NGL) during Q4/2014, an increase of 53% over Q4/2013, and 78,321 boe/d for full-year 2014, an increase of 37% over 2013.
  • Increased proved reserves by 78% to 283 million boe (an increase of 33% on a per share basis) and proved plus probable reserves by 36% to 432 million boe (an increase of 2% on a per share basis). Proved reserves represent 66% of proved plus probable reserves (up from 50% at year-end 2013)
Guidance:
  • 2015 production guidance remains at 84,000 to 88,000 boe/d with budgeted exploration and development expenditures of $500 to $575 million.
  • Co's guidance includes ~2,000 boe/d of uneconomic production that has been shut-in. We expect our production to be approximately evenly split between Canada and the Eagle Ford.
  • Co's production mix is forecast to be ~82% liquids (40% heavy oil, 33% light oil and condensate and 9% natural gas liquids) and 18% natural gas, based on a 6:1 natural gas-to-oil equivalency

7:39 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • On March 4, POSCO (PKX) signed a memorandum of understanding with Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia for a comprehensive partnership. POSCO and PIF are currently reviewing possible joint business opportunities including PIF's investment in shares of POSCO Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd. and formation of joint venture companies in Saudi Arabia between PIF and POSCO Group.
  • ESCO Energy Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ForceField Energy Inc.  (FNRG) announced that its ESCO Energy Services subsidiary will be expanding its relationship with Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (EXC), in marketing Constellation's Efficiency Made Easy campaign, a program designed to assist clients in implementing energy efficiency projects without up-front capital outlay.
  • FTI Consulting (FCN) announced the expansion of its North American Energy & Natural Resources industry team within the firm's Strategic Communications segment. Kristina Moore joins the firm as a Managing Director in Washington, D.C. and Brian Grove joins as a Managing Director in Houston.
  • SunEdison (SUNE) and Solar Grid Storage LLC announced that SunEdison has acquired the energy storage project origination team, project pipeline, and subject to customary consents and assignments, four operating storage projects from Solar Grid Storage. SunEdison now offers battery storage solutions to complement solar and wind projects worldwide, providing solutions that can benefit utilities, municipalities, businesses, and consumers alike.
  • Caterpillar (CAT) announced it has entered into a technology and predictive analytics agreement with Uptake, provider of a dynamic analytics and insight platform for a wide array of industries, based in Chicago, Illinois. Caterpillar has made a minority investment in Uptake and will jointly develop an end-to-end platform for predictive diagnostics to help Caterpillar customers monitor and optimize their fleets more effectively.

7:35 am CECO Environ. misses by $0.08, misses on revs (CECE) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.22 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.08 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.30; revenues rose 10.8% year/year to $76.1 mln vs the $77.8 mln consensus.

  • Total backlog at December 31, 2014 was $140.1 million, a new record, as compared with $106.2 million on September 30, 2014, and $98.5 million on December 31, 2013. Acquisitions contributed approximately $49.9 million to the backlog on a year-over-year basis. Bookings in the fourth quarter of 2014 were $63.7 million, down from $66.8 million in the prior year period.
  • Bookings were $254.9 million in 2014, compared with $198.9 million in 2013.

7:32 am Navidea Biopharma misses by $0.01, beats on revs (NAVB) : Reports Q4 (Dec) loss of $0.05 per share, $0.01 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.04); revenues rose 315.1% year/year to $2.2 mln vs the $1.95 mln consensus.

  • "Lymphoseek's recently expanded U.S. label, our sharpened focus on commercial execution and our new commercial and medical affairs teams strongly position Navidea to accelerate near-term revenue growth. We continue to practice fiscal discipline as evidenced by the nearly 50% reduction in cash used in operations from the first quarter to the fourth quarter of 2014. We believe these actions put us on a solid path toward profitability,"

7:31 am Solar Power signs strategic cooperation agreements with China Minsheng Bank, China Construction Bank and Suzhou Bank (SOPW) : Under the agreements, Minsheng Bank, CCB and Suzhou Bank will provide credit lines of RMB 7 billion, RMB 2 billion and RMB 1 billion, respectively, to support SPI's project financing, re-financing, as well as financing for M&A projects and other general funding needs.

7:30 am Arrowhead Research acquires Novartis' (NVS) RNAi R&D portfolio (ARWR) :

  • Under the terms of the agreement, Arrowhead previously made a payment to Novartis of $7 million in cash and will provide an additional payment of $3 million in cash and $25 million in Arrowhead common stock within 30 days. Novartis is also eligible to receive milestones and single digit royalties on sales of future products in connection with the agreement. 
  • Key aspects of the acquisition include the following: 
    • Multiple patent families covering RNAi-trigger design rules and modifications
    • Novel intracellular targeting ligands that enhance the activity of RNAi-triggers by targeting the RNA-induced silencing complex 
    • An assignment of Novartis' license from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals granting Arrowhead access to Alnylam intellectual property, excluding delivery, for 30 gene targets chosen by Novartis 
    • A pipeline of three candidates initiated by Novartis and for which Novartis has developed varying amounts of preclinical data

7:17 am Navidea Biopharma and Norgine BV affiliate SpePharm AG announce European Commercial Partnership regarding Lymphoseek (NAVB) :

  • Cos entered into an exclusive sublicense agreement for the commercialization and distribution of Lymphoseek 250 microgram kit for radiopharmaceutical preparation (tilmanocept) in the European Union. 
    • Navidea will supply Lymphoseek product to Norgine; however, Navidea will transfer responsibility for regulatory maintenance of the Lymphoseek Marketing Authorization to Norgine. Norgine will also be responsible for pricing, reimbursement, sales, marketing, medical affairs, and regulatory. 
    • Under the terms of the agreement, Navidea will receive an upfront Payment of $2 million and is eligible to receive additional milestone payments up to $5 million, as well as royalties on European net sales.

7:13 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Quest Resource Holding Corporation (QRHC) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Quest Resource Management Group, LLC, expanded its retail hazardous waste program by signing a new national retail account with more than 12,000 company owned stores. In addition, two existing Quest customers, a national grocery chain and a national pet supply retailer, have added this service to their existing contract, which adds an additional 1,200 locations to Quest's hazardous waste program.
  • CyrusOne (CONE) announced that it launched a new device-agnostic customer service portal that puts at customers' fingertips real-time access to the data center infrastructure details. Customers are provided a specific subdomain and granted user administration rights to sign in from the CyrusOne website
  • Professional Diversity Network (IPDN) announced that Jorge Perez is joining its senior team as Executive Vice President effective March 2, 2015.
  • Spansion (CODE) introduced the newest 512Mb density member of the FS-S serial NOR flash family. Spansion's FS-S family boasts the industry's fastest 1.8V serial peripheral interface read performance at 80MBytes/s with quad DDR at 80MHz clock speeds, 50% faster than most other high-density 1.8V SPI devices currently available.
  • Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (KTOS) announced that its SAT Corporation subsidiary released SigX Protect, a patent-pending radio frequency signal protection product that can be configured to automatically cancel interference in real time with no human intervention. 
  • Myriad RBM, a wholly owned subsidiary of Myriad Genetics (MYGN) announced the launch of immunoassay services based on the ultrasensitive Simoaplatform developed by Quanterix. The Simoa platform enables the accurate measurement of protein biomarkers that were previously difficult or even impossible to detect in blood samples.

7:04 am Ciena beats by $0.09, misses on revs; guides Q2 revs in-line (CIEN) : Reports Q1 (Jan) earnings of $0.12 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.09 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.03; revenues fell 0.8% year/year to $529.2 mln vs the $558.95 mln consensus and $540-570 mln guidance.

  • Q1 non-GAAP gross margin 44.1% vs. low 40% range guidance.
Co issues in-line guidance for Q2, sees Q2 revs of $585-615 mln vs. $597.36 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. with adj. gross margin 42-43%.

"Our first quarter performance is highlighted by continued customer diversification, an expanding portfolio, and strong profitability. While order timing and foreign exchange headwinds impacted revenue in the quarter, we delivered improved gross margin and excellent operating profit."

7:02 am Mallinckrodt plc will acquire Ikaria from a Madison Dearborn-led investor group in a transaction valued at ~$2.3 bln; Transaction expected to be accretive to Mallinckrodt's FY 2015 adjusted diluted EPS (MNK) : Ikaria, Inc. is a global critical care company focused on development and commercialization of innovative therapies and delivery systems to address the needs of critically ill infants in hospital neonatal intensive care unit settings.

  • Assuming this timing, the transaction is expected to add at least $150 million in net sales and be accretive to Mallinckrodt's fiscal year 2015 adjusted diluted earnings per share by at least $0.25 per share.
  • The co expects that financing for this transaction will consist of cash on hand, borrowing under MIFSA's existing revolver and debt.
  • Mallinckrodt estimates its net debt-to-EBITDA leverage ratio to be approximately 3.6 at the close of these transactions.  

7:00 am Asian Markets Close: Japan's Nikkei +0.3%; Hong Kong's Hang Seng -1.1%; China's Shanghai Composite -1.0% (:SUMRX) : Markets in the Asia Pacific region were mostly lower on Thursday following China's tempered GDP growth outlook for 2015. China is targeting 7.0% growth versus 7.5% in 2014. That is the country's lowest growth target in 11 years, according to Premier Li Keqiang.

  • Economic data
    • Japan
      • Foreign bonds buying JPY 470.9 bln (prior JPY 166.2 bln)
      • Foreign investments in Japanese stocks JPY 350.5 bln (prior JPY 289.3 bln) 
    • Australia 
      • January trade deficit AUD 980 mln (expected -AUD 950 mln; prior -AUD 503 bln) 
        • Imports +3.0% month-over-month (prior -1.0%) 
        • Exports +1.0% month-over-month (prior +1.0%) 
      • January retail sales +0.4% month-over-month (expected +0.4%; prior +0.2%) 
  • Equity Markets
    • Japan's Nikkei increased 0.3% and closed near its highs for the day with the help of the consumer non-cyclical (+1.5%) and industrial (+0.5%) sectors. Leading gainers included Eisai Co. Ltd (+7.2%), Taiyo Yuden Co (+6.3%), Tory Industries (+4.8%), Kansai Electric Power (+4.4%), and Sumitomo Heavy Industries (+4.4%). Suzuki Motor Corp. (-3.7%) and Olympus Corp. (-2.9%) were the largest decliners in the Nikkei. 
    • Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1.1% in a day that was accented with steady selling pressure. The financial sector (-1.0%) was the most influential drag on the proceedings. HSBC Holdings (-2.7%), AIA Group (-2.6%), and Bank of Communications (-2.2%) were among the top 10 decliners, along with Galaxy Entertainment (-2.6%) and Sands China (-2.3%), which continue to slide on Macau visitation issues.
    • China's Shanghai Composite dropped 1.0% in the wake of the government's reduced GDP growth target of 7.0% for 2015. Laggards in the Chinese market included the communication (-1.2%), financial (-0.8%), and industrial (-0.5%) sectors. Leading individual decliners were Zhejiang WMWH Industry (-7.2%), Glarun Technology Co. (-5.0%), Shaanxi Aerospace Power Hi-Tech Co (-4.7%), Xi'an Typical Industries (-4.5%), and First Tractor Co (-4.4%).
    • India's Sensex increased 0.2%, rebounding in late trade from earlier losses. The gains were paced by the consumer non-cyclical (+1.9%) and financial (+1.3%) sectors. Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (+3.2%), Hindustan Unilever (+2.6%), Housing Development Finance Corp (+2.0%), and Cipla Ltd/India (+1.7%) led the individual gainers. Hindalco Industries (-3.3%) and Coal India (-2.1%) led the decliners.
    • Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained less than 0.1%, rebounding in afternoon trade from earlier losses. A sluggish showing from leading banking stocks kept a lid on things.
    • Regional advancers: South Korea flat, Indonesia +0.1% 
    • Regional decliners: Taiwan -0.3%, Philippines -0.4%, Singapore -0.6%, Thailand -0.6%, Vietnam -0.6%, Malaysia -1.1% 
  • FX
    • USD/CNY -0.05% at 6.2674
    • USD/INR -0.1 % at 62.223
    • USD/JPY +0.4% at 120.19

7:00 am Gemalto reports 2014 revs +5% YoY to 2.5 bln euro, slightly below consensus estimate; profit from operations up +10% to 383 mln euro (GTOFF) :

  • Co raises 2017 profit from operations objective to over 660 mln euro. 

6:55 am Safeguard Sci misses by $0.11 (SFE) : Reports Q4 (Dec) loss of $0.73 per share, $0.11 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.62). 

"As we embark on 2015, we remain focused and disciplined. We have set out the following goals and objectives: to increase the total number of our partner companies to approximately 30; to realize continued growth in partner company aggregate revenue; to deploy $35 million to $50 million in new partner companies; to deploy $30 million to $50 million in follow-on funding for current partner companies; and to realize a minimum of two profitable exits."

6:53 am CSR plc reports Q4 EPS of $0.13 vs $0.11 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; revs -10% YoY to $188.1 mln vs $188.3 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate (CSRE) :  

6:45 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Mazor Robotics (MZOR) announced the first Deep Brain Stimulation surgery performed with its Renaissance Guidance System to treat patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
  • Whiting Petroleum Corporation (WLL) announced the results of its offer to purchase for 101% of par, plus accrued and unpaid interest to the payment date, all of the following notes originally issued by Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp: $800.0 million aggregate principal amount of 8.125% Senior Notes Due 2019, $350.0 million aggregate principal amount of 5.500% Senior Notes Due 2021 and $400.0 million aggregate principal amount of 5.500% Senior Notes Due 2022.
  • Between March 3rd and 4th, 2015, Kennedy-Wilson Holdings (KW) purchased an aggregate of 1,075,000 additional ordinary shares of Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate plc on the London Stock Exchange for a total purchase price of ~$18.0 mln. After the purchase of these additional shares, the Company owns approximately 15.8% of the total issued share capital of KWE. 
  • Asterias Biotherapeutics (AST) announced that Atlanta-based Shepherd Center, one of the nation's top rehabilitation hospitals for spinal cord injury and brain injury, has commenced enrollment for the Phase 1/2a clinical trial of AST-OPC1 in newly injured patients with sensory and motor complete cervical spinal cord injury.
  • Oncolytics Biotech (ONCY) announced that an oral presentation by the Company's research collaborators in Professor Kevin Harrington's lab at the Institute for Cancer Research, titled "Synergistic Combination of Oncolytic Reovirus Type 3 and Radiotherapy in Melanoma is Mediated Through Enhanced Viral Replication and Mitochondrial Apoptotic Signaling," was made at the Irish Association for Cancer Research Conference held  in Limerick, Ireland. They concluded that the combination of REOLYSIN and radiation therapy enhances cytotoxicity in those cell lines by increasing programmed cancer cell death, and that radiation therapy supports increased reovirus replication and suppresses the host cell's anti-viral defenses.
  • Federal Agricultural Mortgage (AGM) and Conterra Asset Management announced the recent launch of its joint venture, Contour Valuation Services, providing fee appraisal services to agricultural lenders and land owners throughout the United States. Contour was created in response to feedback from Farmer Mac approved lenders seeking efficient access to appraisal services with faster turn-around times.

6:41 am Conns reports February total same store sales fell 5.8% y/y; 60-plus day delinquency rate of 9.2% (CONN) : "Same store sales for the month decreased 5.8% against an increase of 14.9% in February last year. During the month, store traffic and delivery of items purchased were negatively impacted by weather. In addition, due to the prolonged port labor disruption which had a higher impact than prior months, lower availability of furniture product contributed to a decrease in same store sales of 8% for the furniture category."

  • "We continue to experience headwinds from tighter underwriting implemented during the first three quarters of fiscal year 2015 compared to the same period a year ago, with an estimated impact of approximately 5-7% in the month. Tighter underwriting, along with additional store openings, particularly impacted our Arizona and New Mexico stores. Excluding Arizona and New Mexico locations, same store sales decreased 3.6% for the month."

6:40 am Antero Resources announces public offering of 11.5 mln shares of common stock (AR) : The Company expects to use the net proceeds from the Offering, including the proceeds from any exercise of the underwriter's option to purchase additional shares of common stock, to repay a portion of the outstanding borrowings under its credit facility.

6:37 am Great Panther Silver reports Q4 net loss if $27.0 million compared to a net loss of $7.0 mln in prior year; revs $14.2 mln vs. $15.8 mln in prior year - no ests (GPL) : Sees 2015 production of total silver equivalent ounces of 3,500,000 -- 3,600,000

6:36 am Methode Electronics beats by $0.18, misses on revs; raises FY15 EPS above consensus, reaffirms FY15 revs guidance (MEI) : Reports Q3 (Jan) earnings of $0.68 per share, $0.18 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.50; revenues rose 8.5% year/year to $206 mln vs the $209.71 mln consensus.

  • Co issues guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $2.50-2.60 from $2.20-2.30 vs. $2.27 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; reaffirms FY15 revs of $870-885 mln vs. $884.12 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • Consolidated gross margins as a percentage of sales improved to 25.5 percent in the Fiscal 2015 first nine months compared to 20.8 percent in the Fiscal 2014 period.

6:34 am Citigroup has sold 396 mln common shares in Akbank T.A.S. through an equity offering representing its entire 9.9% equity interest; proceeds from the transaction are expected to be ~$1.15 bln (C) :  

6:31 am Achillion Pharma reports Q4; guides FY15 EPS (ACHN) : Reports Q4 (Dec) loss of $0.21 per share, $0.03 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.18). Co issues downside guidance for FY15, sees EPS of ($0.95) vs. ($0.85) Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 

  • "We believe that the 100% SVR results we reported with ACH-3102, our NS5A inhibitor, in combination with sofosbuvir after six weeks of treatment, support our belief that ACH-3102 can unleash the potential of a NS5A/nucleotide inhibitor combination to drive down treatment durations. Furthermore, the achievement of proof-of-concept with ACH-3422, our proprietary nucleotide NS5B polymerase inhibitor, and the profile of sovaprevir, our NS3/4A protease inhibitor, leads us to believe that our portfolio is strongly positioned to compete commercially with ultra-short treatments for HCV."

6:31 am Trimble Navigation acquires Linear Project GMBH; financial details not disclosed (TRMB) :  

6:29 am Canadian Solar misses by $0.06, reports revs in-line; guides Q1 and FY15 (CSIQ) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $1.28 per share, $0.06 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.34; revenues rose 84% year/year to $956.2 mln vs the $953.94 mln consensus.

  • Total solar module shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 were 1,125 MW, with 897 MW recognized in revenue, compared to 770 MW recognized in the third quarter of 2014 and 621 MW in the fourth quarter of 2013.  
  • Co issues guidance for Q1, sees Q1 revs of $725-775 vs. $713.18 mln Capital IQ Consensus. 
    • Expects Q1 total module shipments to be in the range of ~1,000 MW to 1,030MW, including ~55 MW of shipments to the Company's utility-scale solar projects that will not be recognized into first quarter 2015 revenue. 
  • Co issues guidance for FY15, sees FY15 revs of $2.8-3.0 bln vs. $3.44 bln Capital IQ Consensus; Absent the planned change in the Company's energy business model from a build-to-sell to a build and operate model, revenue for 2015 would be ~$1.0 billion to $1.1 billion higher.
    • Sees total module shipments to be in the range of ~4.0 GW to 4.3 GW, including 3,300MW to 3,500 MW of third-party module sales, 235 MW to 275 WW of project and EPC sales, and 460 MW to 490 MW of shipments to projects which will be held on the balance sheet pending the launch of a YieldCo vehicle. 
  • At the end of February of 2015, the Company had a pipeline of late -stage, utility-scale solar projects totaling ~1.4 GW DC. Canadian Solar's late-stage, utility-scale solar project pipeline is expected to increase by ~1.0 GW DC to 2.4GW DC with the Recurrent acquisition.

6:25 am Eagle Bancorp prices upsized offering of common stock; now is offering ~2.45 mln shares at a price to the public of $35.50 (EGBN) : The company was initially planning to offering 1.9 mln shares in its secondary offering

6:24 am Shanghai... -0.95% (FXI) :  

6:22 am S&P futures vs fair value: +1.80. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +6.00. :

6:22 am European Markets : FTSE...6938.84...+19.60...+0.30%.  DAX...11447.18...+56.00...+0.50%.

6:22 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...18751.84...+48.20...+0.30%.  Hang Seng...24193.04...-272.30...-1.10%.

6:21 am Gray Television misses by $0.01, beats on revs; guides Q1 revs above consensus (GTN) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.53 per share, $0.01 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.54; revenues rose 86.3% year/year to $177.9 mln vs the $170.96 mln consensus.

  • Co issues upside guidance for Q1, sees Q1 revs of $130-133 mln vs. $122.36 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • "We believe our first quarter of 2015 local advertising revenue, excluding political advertising revenue, will increase by approximately 31% to 34%. We expect our first quarter of 2015 national advertising revenue, excluding political advertising revenue, will increase by approximately 30% to 33%. We anticipate our first quarter of 2015 internet advertising revenue, excluding political advertising revenue, will increase by approximately 3% to 5%. We believe our first quarter of 2015 retransmission consent revenue will increase by approximately 128%, or $20.6 million, to $36.7 million."

6:14 am Samsung Elect has acquired LED sign and display manufacturer, YESCO Electronics; financial details not disclosed (SSNLF) :  

6:13 am Ameresco beats by $0.01, beats on revs; guides FY15 EPS mid below consensus, revs above consensus (AMRC) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.18 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.17; revenues rose 2.8% year/year to $181.1 mln vs the $173.47 mln consensus.

  • Co issues guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $0.16-0.24 vs. $0.16 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 revs of $610-640 mln vs. $605.93 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.
  • The Company also expects adjusted EBITDA for 2015 to be in the range of $43 million to $48 million. "Our assumptions for 2015 guidance are as follows: project revenues from contracted backlog of approximately $310 million; project revenues from awarded projects and proposals in the range of $100 million to $120 million; the remainder of revenues from all other service offerings; gross margin in the range of 19-20%; operating expenses as a percentage of revenue of 16-17%; an effective income tax rate of 25%."

6:07 am Joy Global misses by $0.11, misses on revs; lowers FY15 EPS and revenue guidance (JOY) : Reports Q1 (Jan) earnings of $0.25 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.11 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.36; revenues fell 16.1% year/year to $703.9 mln vs the $754.54 mln consensus.

  • Co issues lowered guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $2.50-3.00 from $3.10-3.50 vs. $3.20 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; lowers FY15 revs to $3.3-3.6 bln from $3.6-3.8 bln vs. $3.64 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • Co reported Q1 Bookings of $700 mln, down 19% YoY. 
  • Market Outlook: The outlook for global growth in 2015 has been reduced in recent months as the slowing trends seen in the second half of 2014 have continued. Weak commodity prices, diverging monetary policy and weak world trade all present challenges to the growth outlook. After showing some signs of improvement, growth in Europe remains stagnant with the fourth quarter registering just 0.3 percent. Slowing housing market activity and a movement towards consumer driven growth has China adjusting to a new normal level of economic activity. The strength seen in the U.S. economy during the second half of 2014 now faces headwinds from slowing activity in the energy sector. Combined, these challenges contribute to a decidedly more difficult end market unfolding for the company in 2015. 
  • Company Outlook: "Our direct service business remains a critical and stabilizing force for us, but we have recently seen slowing in the bookings profile as maintenance and rebuild schedules are stretched. There has also been evidence of commodity production declines in some end markets that is also impacting our service bookings. Although production declines will help to rebalance supply and demand fundamentals, they will also put pressure on our near-term service booking activity."

6:06 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Toshiba Corporation's (TOSBF) Semiconductor & Storage Products Company has reinforced its line-up of BSI CMOS image sensors with the introduction of the "T4KA7", a new 20-megapixel device with an optical format of 1/2.4 inch. Mass production shipments start today.
  • Logitech (LOGI) introduced its newest Logitech G mouse, the Logitech G303 Daedalus Apex Performance Edition Gaming Mouse. Designed based on feedback from the gaming enthusiast and eSports community, the Logitech G303 features the Logitech G exclusive Delta Zero optical sensor technology for precision targeting, and metal spring button tensioning system in a lightweight, compact form
  • Panasonic (PCRFY) announced its lithium primary batteries have been mounted in the asteroid explorer "Hayabusa2" launched on December 3, 2014.
  • Unisys Corporation (UIS) announced that its Belgian subsidiary was awarded contracts in November 2014 under the ESP-DESIS III framework contract. This framework contract is the largest ever awarded by the European Commission. According to the European Commission, the total value of the three lots in which Unisys teams will be providing services is more than $900 million. The projected revenue for Unisys under the framework is estimated at around $100 million over the four year term.
  • PATTERSON-UTI ENERGY (PTEN) reported that for the month of February 2015, the Company had an average of 164 drilling rigs operating in the United States and nine rigs in Canada. For the two months ended February 28, 2015, the Company had an average of 177 drilling rigs operating in the United States and nine rigs in Canada.
  • WhiteWave Foods (WWAV) introduced Yulu, a new Australian-style yogurt brand. Inspired by an authentic Australian recipe, Yulu Double Smoothed is made with fresh ingredients to create an extra creamy texture.
  • FLY Leasing (FLY) announced that it has sold three Boeing 737-800 aircraft for $137 million.
  • MagnaChip Semiconductor (MX) announced that it is now supplying a major Japanese liquid crystal module maker with display panel driver ICs for use in Automotive applications.
  • Ascent Solar (ASTI) announced the immediate availability of its Battery & Solar case for the iPhone 6, the EnerPlex Surfr.
  • CTC Media (CTCM) announced the appointment of Natasha Tsukanova and Kaj Gradevik to the CTC Media Board of Directors. Ms. Tsukanova has also been appointed Co-Chairman of the Board. Ms. Tsukanova and Mr. Gradevik have been designated by MTG Russia, the Company's largest stockholder, to replace J rgen Madsen Lindemann and Mathias Hermansson.
  • Golar LNG Limited (GLNG) and Rosneft Oil Company (OJSCY) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that foresees cooperation between the companies in the area of floating liquefaction and transportation of natural gas. Under this MoU the companies will enter into discussions to develop opportunities for the use of Golar's GoFLNG facilities in Latin America and potentially other locations. The parties are targeting signing of two FLNG tolling agreements for projects within Rosneft's portfolio.

6:05 am Bayer AG announced its Phase III trial of Regorafenib shows insufficient patient recruitment (BAYRY) :

  • Co announced that it is suspending enrolment into a Phase III trial with regorafenib in colorectal cancer patients with resected liver metastases due to insufficient patient recruitment. 
  • As a result of slow patient accrual, the study will be closed to further enrolment before the study endpoints can be assessed. Importantly, there were no new safety signals from the study. 
  • The company is actively working with the Data Monitoring Committee, the Study Steering Committee and investigators with regard to the appropriate disposition of patients who have entered into the trial. A summary of the findings will be disclosed to the public as available. 

6:03 am Ares Commercial Real Estate beats by $0.03; guides Q1 EPS below consensus; guides FY15 EPS in-line (ACRE) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.31 per share, $0.03 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.28.

Guidance:
Co issues downside guidance for Q1, sees EPS of $0.21-0.24 vs. $0.25 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. Co issues in-line guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $1.02-1.14 vs. $1.09 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

5:50 am Miller Industries announced an increase in its regular quarterly dividend to $0.16/share from $0.15/share (MLR) :  

4:12 am Schneider Electric launched yesterday a 750 million EMTN (Euro Medium Term Note) issue maturing in 10 years. (SBGSY) : The interest rate was coupon of 0.875% 

4:10 am Baidu.com and Huawei sign MOU to jointly develop indoor mobile internet (BIDU) : Huawei formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding of cooperation between Huawei's innovative solution "Service Anchor" and "Baidu map".

  • With the joint development of technical innovation, product development, and marketing promotion, Huawei and Baidu plan to accelerate the development of mobile internet applications based on indoor scenarios. To further explore the new business models for launching ICT convergence solutions across the industry achieving a win-win strategic cooperation.

3:32 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Telef nica (TEF) announced today that it has presented an end-to-end network-functions virtualization instantiation demonstration in collaboration with Brocade (BRCD), Cyan, Intel (INTC) and Red Hat (RHT) at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.
  • Royal Philips (PHG) announced its collaboration with the University of California, Irvine, to explore how spectral breast imaging can improve breast density measurement, potentially aiding clinicians in more accurately gauging breast cancer risks and monitoring changes over time. 

3:09 am Costco beats by $0.17, reports revs in-line (COST) : Reports Q2 (Feb) earnings of $1.35 per share, $0.17 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.18; revenues rose 4.4% year/year to $27.45 bln vs the $27.57 bln consensus.

  • Co states: "Net income was positively impacted by a $57 million ($0.13 per diluted share) tax benefit in connection with February's special cash dividend to the extent received by the Company 401(k) plan participants. In addition, this quarter's net income was negatively impacted by a $14 million ($0.03 per diluted share) tax charge relating to an ongoing income tax matter." 
  • For the four-week reporting month of February ended March 1, 2015, the Company reported net sales of $8.18 billion, an increase of four percent from $7.90 billion during the similar four-week period last year.

2:58 am Ingersoll-Rand acquires FRIGOBLOCK (IR) : Ingersoll-Rand announced it has completed the acquisition of FRIGOBLOCK. The transaction was closed on March 4, 2015 for 100 million. 

  • FRIGOBLOCK manufactures and designs transport refrigeration units for trucks and trailers in Europe, primarily sold in Northern Europe. FRIGOBLOCK operates in Essen, Germany and is home to about 150 employees. FRIGOBLOCK's annual revenue is ~ 41 million. 

2:57 am Youku Tudou announces appointment of Edward Su as Chief Operating Officer (YOKU) : Co announces the appointment of Edward Su as Chief Operating Officer, who will oversee the sales team of Youku Tudou. Before joining Youku Tudou, Edward served as CEO of China Group for Havas Worldwide, a multinational integrated marketing communications agency. 

1:49 am Pharmacyclics: AbbVie (ABBV) to acquire Pharmacyclics; transaction valued at $261.25 pershare, total transaction value of ~$21 bln (PCYC) : AbbVie (ABBV) and Pharmacyclics (PCYC) announced a definitive agreement under which AbbVie will acquire Pharmacyclics, and its flagship asset  Imbruvica, a highly effective treatment for hematologic malignancies.  

  • The acquisition accelerates AbbVie's clinical and commercial presence in oncology, strengthening its already robust pipeline, and establishing its strong leadership position in hematological oncology -- an attractive and rapidly growing market, now approaching $24 billion globally.  
  • The acquisition adds to AbbVie's already comprehensive pipeline and strong growth prospects.
  • Under the terms of the transaction, AbbVie will pay $261.25 per share comprised of a mix of cash and AbbVie equity.  The transaction values Pharmacyclics at ~$21 billion and was approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies.  
  • AbbVie expects to fund the transaction through a combination of existing cash, new debt and stock 

1:39 am easyJet reports Feb traffic, load factor +0.2pp (ESYJY) : Co reports Feb traffic stats:

  • Passengers: 4,491,425 +6.1%
  • Load Factor: 90.9% +0.2pp

1:38 am Aer Lingus reports improvement in Feb load factors and long haul passenger numbers (AIRXY) : Co reports Feb traffic stats:

  • Revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) (millions): 788 +6.9%
  • Passenger load factor (%): 69.2 +1.9 

12:46 am CTPartners Executive Search adopts Stockholder Rights Agreement (CTP) : Co announced that its Board of Directors, having received the recommendation of the special committee of independent directors established by the Board on February 21, 2015, adopted a stockholder rights agreement.  

  • The Board adopted the Rights Agreement, among other reasons, to help guard against the risk of coercive and unfair acquisition techniques, to encourage potential bidders to negotiate with the Board of Directors, and to provide the special committee of independent directors established by the Board on February 21, 2015 sufficient time to fully explore potential strategic alternatives, including the recent unsolicited, non-binding proposal from DHR International to acquire all of the outstanding shares of the Company for $7.00 a share per share.  

12:41 am Allegiant Travel reports Feb Total System RPMs rose 5.1% YoY (ALGT) : Co reported preliminary passenger traffic results for February 2015. 

  • Passengers 668,056 +8.8% 
  • Revenue passenger miles (000) 646,440  +5.1% 
  • Available seat miles (000) 753,490  +6.9% 
  • Load factor 85.8% (1.4) pts 
  • Departures 4,788 +10.7% 
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