InPlay from Briefing.com

Briefing.com

1:35 pm Sierra Bancorp has officially appointed Kevin McPhaill as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1, 2015 (BSRR) : On the same day, the founding bank President, James C. Holly, will officially enter retirement, but continue on the Board of Directors as Vice Chairman.

1:32 pm Palo Alto Networks announces relationship expansion with VMware (VMW) for mobile security; solutions to offer malware detection, network protection and VPN and network security (PANW) :  

1:28 pm Acacia Research's Saint Lawrence Communications and Saint Lawrence Communications GmbH subsidiaries entered into patent license agreements with Sony Mobile Communications (ACTG) :  

1:26 pm Northrop Grumman subsidiary Remotec and AirRobot US announce distribution agreement regarding unmanned aerial systems (NOC) : Under the agreement, Remotec will be the sole reseller of AirRobot US products to the first responder and law enforcement market in the United States. As part of the agreement, which commenced earlier this month, Remotec also will provide service, maintenance and technical support for all AirRobot systems in the U.S. The companies also are working to integrate Remotec's unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and AirRobot's aerial systems to create new ground/air capabilities that meet a wide range of operational requirements.

12:59 pm Midday Market Summary: Stocks Near Lows (:WRAPX) : The major averages hover near their lows at midday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.6%) trading behind the S&P 500 (-0.4%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.4%).

Equity indices began the day under broad pressure after the overnight session featured a retreat across European markets. Similarly, the euro has given up 0.9% against the dollar (1.0725), which has sent the Dollar Index (98.47, +0.50) higher by 0.5%. Including today's advance, the index is on track to end the month higher by 2.9%.

Once again, the dollar strength has weighed on crude oil, sending the energy component lower by 1.8% to $47.79/bbl. For its part, the energy sector trades lower by 0.5% while eight other sectors also trade in the red.

The industrial sector (-0.8%) is the weakest performer on the cyclical side with large cap names fueling the underperformance. Dow components Boeing (BA 150.78, -1.92) and General Electric (GE 24.81, -0.27) are both down near 1.2% while transport stocks have stayed ahead of the sector. The Dow Jones Transportation Average has given up 0.6%.

Elsewhere among cyclical groups, financials (-0.4%) and technology (-0.4%) trade in-line with the broader market while the consumer discretionary sector (+0.3%) has spent the first half in positive territory. Homebuilders have contributed to the relative strength after DR Horton (DHI 28.48, +0.47) was upgraded to 'Positive' from 'Neutral' at Susquehanna.

Also of note, health care (-0.7%) hovers near the bottom of the barrel with biotechnology pressuring the sector. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 346.66, -4.65) has slid 1.3%, but the broader health care sector remains on track to end the month higher by 1.5%.

Treasuries hold modest gains after climbing off their overnight lows with the 10-yr yield lower by a basis point at 1.93%.

Economic data included Chicago PMI, Consumer Confidence, and Case-Shiller 20-City Index:

  • The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased to 101.3 in March from an upwardly revised 98.8 (from 96.4) while the Briefing.com consensus expected the reading to hold at 96.4 
    • Labor market improvements catalyzed the increase in confidence as initial claims levels returned to their sub-300,000 trend over the past couple of weeks 
  • The Chicago PMI increased to 46.3 in March from 45.8 in February while the Briefing.com consensus expected an increase to 52.0 
    • Chicago PMI fell from 59.4 to 45.8 in February, which was immediately blamed on extreme weather conditions. As weather conditions returned to normal in March, manufacturing activities were expected to return to their previous expansionary cycle, but that did not happen 
    • Conditions did improve modestly, but the overall index remained firmly in contraction for a second consecutive month, meaning the pullback that began in February was likely not the result of temporary weather problems 
  • The Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index for January rose 4.6%, which is what the Briefing.com consensus expected 
    • The previous month's increase was revised to 4.4% from 4.5%

12:52 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

  • CHTR (196.65 +7.23%): Announced it will acquire Bright House for ~$10.4 bln.
  • CBG (38.41 +5.49%): Announced it will acquire the Global WorkPlace Solutions business of Johnson Controls (JCI) for $1.475 bln.
  • UA (81.28 +1.72%): Price target raised to $85 from $82 at Deutsche Bank; firm has a Buy rating on the name.
Large Cap Losers
  • LRCX (69.62 -3.56%): Sector-wide weakness in semiconductors (ADI, AVGO, QRVO also lower).
  • CELG (116.18 -3.2%): Various Biotech pulling back following strong gains during yesterday's broad market rally (ALXN, BMRN, MDVN also lower). 
Mid Cap Gainers
  • JCP (8.26 +5.49%): Price target raised to $14 from $13 at Piper Jaffray; firm maintains Overweight rating.
  • SFM (35.22 +4.98%): Added to Best Ideas List at Morgan Stanley; Overweight.
  • RCPT (165.67 +3.51%): Favorable commentary on Monday's Mad Money.
Mid Cap Losers
  • TCK (13.84 -9.4%): Issued statement responding to rumors, reported that it is not in discussions with Antofagasta (ANFGY) in relation to any form of transaction, and there are no other corporate developments that justify any significant movement in its share price.
  • ICPT (281 -5.04%): Announced a secondary offering of 1.2 mln shares of common stock; co expects gross proceeds of ~$338.4 mln.
  • ENH (61.07 -5.02%): Announced it will acquire Montpelier Re (MRH) for $1.83 bln in cash and stock.

12:45 pm Peregrine Pharma announces the peer-reviewed publication of clinical data from a Phase I investigator-sponsored trial evaluating its lead investigational immunotherapy bavituximab plus paclitaxel therapy in patients with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer (PPHM) : The manuscript details the results of the Phase I trial showing that the combination produced an objective tumor response in 85% of patients, including 15% of these patients achieving a complete response, measured in accordance with Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors (:RECIST) criteria.

  • Results from 13 evaluable patients showed that 11 patients (85%) achieved an objective response, including two patients (15%) that achieved a complete response (CR), 9 patients with partial responses (:PR) and 2 patients with progressive disease (PD.TO). Median PFS for the combination of bavituximab with weekly paclitaxel was 7.3 months. In addition, the combination of bavituximab and paclitaxel was safe and well-tolerated with the majority of grade 1 or 2 adverse events being paclitaxel related. Approximately half of these patients were classified as "triple negative," a traditionally difficult-to-treat patient population. In addition, treatment with bavituximab reduced circulating PS-expressing microparticles (exosomes) which are immunosuppressive.

12:03 pm Additional backtracking off bounce highs leaves major averages in low end of morning range -- Dow -111, S&P -10, Nasdaq Comp -26 (:TECHX) : Sectors underperforming vs. the S&P in recent trade include: Biotech IBB, Health XLV, Pharma PPH, Semi SMH, Telecom IYZ.

11:49 am European Markets Closing Prices (:SUMRX) : European markets are now closed; stock markets across Europe performed as follows:

  • UK's FTSE:-1.7%
  • Germany's DAX:-0.9%
  • France's CAC:-0.8%
  • Spain's IBEX:+0.0%
  • Portugal's PSI:-0.9%
  • Italy's MIB Index:-0.4%
  • Irish Ovrl Index:-1.3%
  • Greece ASE General Index: +0.4%

11:38 am Stocks/ETFs that traded to new 52 week highs/lows this session - New highs (134) outpacing new lows (63) (:SCANX) : Stocks that traded to 52 week highs: ACG, AFAM, ALG, ALV, AMBA, AN, ANAC, AOS, ATRA, AXL, AZO, BCV, BFIN, BR, BSET, BUSE, CAMB, CBG, CBM, CBPO, CBPX, CCK, CCL, CDXS, CGNX, CHDN, CHTR, CIVI, CMT, CNK, COBK, CTB, CTRN, CUK, DHI, DK, DOX, DPLO, DST, ELGX, FBR, FCE.A, FCE.B, FDS, FICO, FLEX, FRPT, FWP, GCI, GIS, GMAN, GRUB, GRX, HIFR, HMN, HOLX, HPS, HXL, HZNP, IDI, INAP, INCR, INFN, INUV, ITG, JFC, JUNO, KAI, KAR, KMX, KNL, KSS, LAD, LBRDA, LBRDK, LBY, LEN, LEVY, LH, LII, MDCA, MERC, MGLN, MHF, MHK, MKC, MKC.V, MLR, MMS, MOH, MRH, MSO, MTH, MTN, MUSA, NICE, NLNK, NWHM, PBF, PNK, PRSC, Q, RAD, RALY, RARE, RCPT, REV, ROLL, RYL, SCVL, SHLM, SJM, SKX, SMMT, SPF, SPR, SPTN, STON, SXT, TBNK, TGT, TIK, TREX, TRIL, TUMI, TWOU, UHT, VIPS, VRSN, WAT, WBC, WMS, WU, ZNH

Stocks that traded to 52 week lows: ACTG, ADEP, ADGE, AMDA, ARCI, ATNM, BOSC, CANF, CEL, CEQP, CHEK, CLTX, CNNX, DSX, DWSN, EGI, EGL, EGLE, EGY, EOX, FENG, FF, FHCO, FNJN, FSAM, GOL, IMUC, IRG, ITEK, MILL, MIND, MPV, MSB, OHRP, OIBR.C, PHIIK, PKX, PM, PRGN, PTNR, RXII, SA, SHOS, SIFY, SJR, SNTA, SONS, SSYS, STN, TAOM, TCPI, TDW, TGC, UCTT, VALE.P, VSCI, VTG, WHLR, WPT, WRN, XPL, YGE, YOKU

ETFs that traded to 52 week highs: ITB, PFF, QAI, XHB, XRT

ETFs that traded to 52 week lows: VXX

11:35 am Total S.A.: Wood Group announced earlier today, the award of major contract by Total (TOT) : The Wood Group announced it was awarded a five year, multi-million contract by Total, which includes the option for two, one year extensions. Under the contract Wood Group PSN will deliver engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning services to four offshore assets and two onshore facilities in the UK continental shelf. The contract, effective immediately, continues WGPSN's 12 year history of providing these services to the Alywn, Dunbar, Elgin and Franklin platforms and the St Fergus Gas Terminal. It also covers support for the Shetland Gas Plant (:SGP), the onshore receiving facility for Laggan Tormore, which will start production later this year.

11:33 am Stock indices edge back off morning rebound highs -- Dow -71, S&P -6.1, Nasdaq Comp -17 (:TECHX) : Relative sector weakness on the pullback has been noted in: Telecom IYZ, Crude Oil USO, Energy XLE, Oil Service OIH, Gold Miners GDX, Coal KOL, Materials XLB, Semi SMH.

11:22 am TJX confirms previously plans to raise quarterly dividend 20% to $0.21/share from $0.175/share (TJX) : In addition, co plans to continue its share buyback program, with ~$1.8-1.9 bln of repurchases planned for Fiscal 2016. The planned div increase and buyback plans were announced alongside the company's Q4 earnings in February

11:22 am Currency Commentary: DXY Bid Ahead of Jobs (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index was able to climb back above 98 as we head toward the end of the quarter. Market participants are moving back into the greenback ahead of the end of the week jobs report. Positioning will happen a little earlier given the shortened holiday trade period. Economic data from this morning was mixed. We saw Case Shiller come in line with expectations, March Chicago PMI miss and March Consumer Confidence beat expectations. 
  • The euro has been offered as the dollar moves higher. There is growing concern over the Greek situation. Commentary from both sides point to a divide in the next step of the crisis. And this is all coming ahead of an April 9 IMF payment that some believe Greece will miss. It was a busy day on the economic front with German Retail Sales (better than feared), French Consumer Spending (miss), German Unemployment Change (better than expected), Eurozone CPI (higher than expected but still low), and Eurozone Unemployment (slight q/q improvement) providing a relatively upbeat picture on for the region.
  • The pound is holding the 1.48 level against the dollar. Sterling has been supported by an upward revision to Q4 GDP (+0.6% from +0.5%). The country's Current Account deficit was larger than expected as it continues to show signs of trade being hurt by a weakening euro. 
  • The yen continues to test the 120 level for support as the dollar pushes higher. It was light on the economic front with better than feared Housing Starts data being the most interesting feature (BONDX, FOREX).

11:12 am Pembina Pipeline earlier announced it has launched CAD $200 mln bought deal preferred share offering (PBA) : The co announced that it has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters co-led by Scotiabank and RBC Capital Markets pursuant to which the Underwriters have agreed to purchase from Pembina 8 mln cumulative redeemable rate reset class A preferred shares, Series 9  at a price of $25.00 per share for distribution to the public.

11:11 am Major averages continue slow climb out of early hole -- Dow -44, S&P -3, Nasdaq Comp -9 (:TECHX) : Some relative sector strength in recent trade has been noted in: Discretionary XLY, Restaurant, REITs IYR.

11:02 am Domino's Pizza introduces ordering via Samsung Smart TV; marks the first time that Domino's ordering is available on any Smart TV (DPZ) :  

10:46 am Levy Acquisition (+4%) extends recent surge after acquiring Del Taco (LEVY) : Levy Acquisition Corp is up ~35% since announcing it will acquire Del Taco on March 12, based on an enterprise value of $500 mln.

On March 23, Del Taco closed its previously announced recapitalization, in advance of the planned acquisition of the Company by LAC. Restaurateur Larry Levy, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of LAC, together with his family and a group of new investors have made a private investment of $120 million in the common stock of Del Taco and now own ~46% of Del Taco. CO is xpected to close the deal in June.

  • Del taco is the second largest Mexican QSR with ~550 restaurants located in 16 states, announced on March 11th, 2015 the execution of a merger agreement for their business combination. The Del Taco brand is well known in SoCal, where it originated in 1964. Del Taco owns and operates just over 300 of the system wide stores while the rest are owned and operated by franchisees.
Investors have been pouring into this stock as the idea of a new Mexican QSR stock is exciting given the performance of Chipotle (CMG), up nearly 3000% since its 2006 IPO.

10:46 am Stock indices extend to minor new rebound highs -- Dow -60, S&P -5, Nasdaq Comp -12 (:TECHX) :  

10:25 am Gentherm announces it will be added to the SmallCap 600 Index after the close of trading on April 1, 2015 (THRM) :  

10:06 am Petrobras Argentina S.A. has signed a purchase and sale agreement with Compa a General de Combustibles S.A. for the sale of its entire interest in the Austral Basin in Argentina (PZE) : The co announced it signed a purchase and sale agreement with Compa a General de Combustibles S.A. for the sale of its entire interest in the Austral Basin in Argentina, including interest in the concessions operated by the Joint Ventures (:UTE) Santa Cruz I, Santa Cruz I Oeste, Glencross and Estancia Chirip , in assets related to Santa Cruz II, in Punta Loyola Terminal and in the oil and gas pipelines operated in the basin for an amount of US$101 million.

  • The concessions cover an area of approximately 11,500 km2, with expiration dates between 2017 and 2037, are located in the Province of Santa Cruz and have a production of approximately 15,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in connection with PESA's interest. 

10:02 am Stock indices notch limited new bounce highs follow confidence data -- Dow -95, S&P -9, Nasdaq Comp -19 (:TECHX) :  

10:01 am PPL Corp: PPL Electric Utilities submits a delivery charge increase request to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; increase represents potential $167.5 mln/year (PPL) : As outlined in the company's PUC filing, the total increase, spread across all of the company's 1.4 million customers, would be $167.5 million per year. If approved by the PUC, the increase would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

9:52 am SPDR Housing ETF notches new multi-year high (XHB) : Noted the test of last week's high (36.85) yesterday with the follow through this morning edging slightly above its Feb peak at 37.08 to establish a minor new multi-year high of 37.11 -- TPX +1.5%, DHI +1.4%, SPF +1.1%, TOL +1.1%, LL +1.4%, PHM +0.6%, RYL +0.6%, BZH =0.8%, LEN +0.7%, KBH +0.5%.

9:50 am Mylan Labs announces the launch of Amlodipine and Valsartan tablets (MYL) : Co announced the U.S. launch of Amlodipine and Valsartan Tablets, 5 mg/160 mg, 5 mg/320 mg, 10 mg/160 mg, 10 mg/320 mg, which is the generic version of Novartis' (NVS) Exforge Tablets.

9:45 am Opening Market Summary: Cyclical Sectors Pace Opening Decline (:WRAPX) : As expected, the major averages began the day under pressure. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 all trade with losses close to 0.4% apiece as nine of ten sectors hover in the red.

Cyclical sectors outperformed yesterday and those groups are among today's early laggards. The energy sector (-0.9%) is the weakest performer while crude oil trades lower by 1.3% at $48.04/bbl. As for the remaining growth sensitive groups, industrials (-0.6%) and materials (-0.8%) lag while the consumer discretionary sector (unch) outperforms.

On the countercyclical side, telecom services (+0.1%) and utilities (+0.2%) outperform while health care (-0.5%) trades in-line with the market. It is worth noting that biotechnology lags with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 348.29, -3.03) trading lower by 0.9%.

Just released, the Chicago PMI for March rose to 46.3 from 45.8 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a jump to 52.0.

9:45 am New session lows for major averages -- Dow -116, S&P -11, Nasdaq Comp -25 (:TECHX) :  

9:44 am Williams Cos announces it has sought FERC approval for its Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Expansion (WMB) : Co announced today that Transco has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (:FERC) seeking authorization for its Atlantic Sunrise expansion project, which would transport about 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S.

  • Williams expects to place Atlantic Sunrise into service in the second half of 2017 as part of $4.8 billion in transmission projects planned to come online through 2017. Williams Partners' net investment in the Atlantic Sunrise project is expected to be approximately $2.1 billion.

9:42 am Relative sector strength (:TECHX) : Weaker start but seeing some relative sector strength in: Gold Miners GDX, Home Const ITB/XHB, gold GLD, Natural Gas UNG, Semi SMH, Retail XRT, Internet FDN.

9:40 am Relative sector performance (:TECHX) : Sectors that have weighed on the indices in early action include: Steel SLX, Mining XME, Solar TAN, Auto CARZ, Crude Oil USO, Casino BJK, Pharma PPH, Coal KOL, Oil Service OIH, Energy XLE, Rail, Copper JJC, Transports IYT.

9:38 am Stock indices open weaker but have not developed follow through thus far -- Dow -70, S&P -8.4, Nasdaq Comp -18 (:TECHX) :  

9:32 am XTL Biopharma has entered into definitive purchase agreements with a healthcare dedicated fund that led the transaction and other existing institutional and accredited investors for the purchase of $4 mln of ADS at a purchase price per ADS of $2.25 (XTLB) : Investors will also receive five and a half year warrants to purchase 0.5 of an ADS for each ADS purchased in the offering with an exercise price of $2.25 per ADS. The closing bid price of the Company's ADSs on March 30, 2015 was $2.24.

9:30 am Infinity Pharmaceutical announces it will exercise its option to buy out all future royalty obligations to Takeda for Duvelisib sales (INFI) : Co announced that it has exercised its option to buy out all future royalty obligations due to Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited for sales of duvelisib (IPI-145), Infinity's dual inhibitor of phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K)-delta and PI3K-gamma, in oncology indications.

  • The option was purchased in July 2014 for $5.0 million from a Takeda affiliate, and the exercise fee was $52.5 million. 
  • Exercising the option eliminates the future obligation to pay Takeda tiered royalties of ~7-11 % on worldwide net sales of duvelisib in oncology indications.

9:30 am Praxair has completed an extension of its pipeline to supply oxygen to Kumbi Corporation, one of the largest glass bottle manufacturers in South Korea (PX) : The six-mile extension supplies 100 tons per day of gaseous oxygen from Praxair's Tangjung plant to Kumbi's two glass-melting furnaces located in Asan, in the central region of the country. Additionally, Praxair's pipeline extension will enable the company to meet the growing industrial gases demand from businesses across South Korea.

9:29 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • GNC Holdings (GNC) announced the addition of three new communications partners to help drive profitable growth for the brand. The new agency partners -- Consigliere (brand management/creative/advertising), CROSSMEDIA (media/communications planning) and 22squared (digital and social media) -- were selected after a multiple-month review and assessment process.
  • American DG Energy (ADGE) announced that it has reached an agreement to install an additional two 75kW combined heat and power systems at an apartment complex in Bronx, New York. The systems will be owned and operated by American DG Energy and the agreement will provide additional revenue of approximately $2,200,000 over the 13 year contract.
  • Wix.com (WIX) announced the launch of WixMusic. The latest addition to the Wix product suite, WixMusic lets musicians introduce, share and sell their music directly from their websites. 
  • Vantiv (VNTV) announced new research by The Nilson Report indicates that Vantiv has become the second largest merchant acquirer in the United States based on number of purchase transactions
  • ExOne (XONE) announced that John A. Baliotti has joined the Company effective March 30, 2015 as Director of Marketing and Business Development. Mr. Baliotti most recently served as a senior equity analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott, with emphasis on manufacturing technology and distribution, including coverage of the additive manufacturing sector. 
  • Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) confirms that partner AstraZeneca (AZN) announced that MOVANTIK (naloxegol) has launched in the United States. 
  • DISH Network (DISH), Major League Baseball and MLB Advanced Media have reached a wide-ranging multi-year agreement that includes the launch of MLB EXTRA INNINGS on DISH, including authenticated access to MLB.TV.
  • Mattersight (MATR) announced an alliance with Aceyus, a leading provider of data mining and reporting software in the call center industry, which will accelerate implementation of Mattersight's Predictive Behavioral Routing in Avaya environments.
  • LPL Financial LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of LPL Financial Holdings (LPLA), announced that the Center for Wealth Planning, Inc., a large enterprise and a nationwide network of independent advisors, has joined LPL Financial's RIA custodial platform. 

9:26 am TerraForm Power acquires 168 mw of solar power plants from SunEdison (SUNE); reiterates its 2015 guidance of $214 mln of CAFD and dividend of $1.30/share (TERP) : The acquired portfolio includes US distributed generation power plants representing 15 MW and eleven utility-scale, ground mount plants in the UK comprising 153 MW. Together, the plants are expected to contribute $17 million in cash available for distribution in 2015, and generate annualized unlevered CAFD of $24 million. Installation has been completed for all 168 MW in the portfolio. TerraForm Power has used its existing balance sheet liquidity to fund the acquisition of these call right power plants, and reiterates its 2015 guidance of $214 million of CAFD and dividends of $1.30 per share.

9:25 am Intl Paper has reached a definitive agreement with MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) to sell the Carolina coated bristols brand; terms not disclosed (IP) : The co also announced plans to invest $135 million to expand fluff pulp production at its Riegelwood N.C. Mill. The investment will convert the mill to 100% fluff and softwood pulp production, adding an incremental 400,000 tons of capacity, with ongoing flexibility to shift between the two products. When the conversion is complete, the company will have the capability to produce up to 1.4 million tons annually of high-quality fluff. The new fluff pulp capacity is expected to ramp up mid-year 2016.

9:20 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Amazon (AMZN) and Bleecker Street announced a multi-year content licensing agreement that will make Prime Instant Video the exclusive subscription home for theatrical releases including Danny Collins starring Al Pacino, and Pawn Sacrifice starring Tobey Maguire as American chess champion Bobby Fischer.
  • LifeMap Solutions, a subsidiary of BioTime (BTX), launched a pilot program for COPD Navigator, an Apple HealthKit-compliant iOS app that helps patients monitor and manage the symptoms of COPD.
  • State Street Corporation (STT) announced that Scott Powers, President and chief executive officer of State Street Global Advisors, intends to retire later this year after more than seven years leading the firm and three decades in the investment management industry.
  • CSG International (CSGS) announced a new contract in Brazil for CSG's award-winning Intermediate solution. With this latest contract, CSG Intermediate now supports the operations of 4 of the 5 leading mobile providers in Brazil. 
  • ProPay, a TSYS company (TSS), announced that it is launching ProFac Express - a suite of services designed to simplify and enable payment facilitators with aggregation and traditional payment processing services.
  • Halyard Health (HYH) announced it was awarded a new purchasing agreement with HealthTrust for its complete line of face masks. Effective March 1, 2015, Halyard's standard and ASTM-rated face masks, including FLUIDSHIELD masks with SO SOFT lining, will be available to HealthTrust members made up of 1,350 acute care facilities, as well as 15,000 ambulatory surgery centers, physician practices and alternate care facilities.
  • CSC (CSC) has been selected by the Swedish utility company Vattenfall to build and deliver a next-generation IT workplace environment as part of Vattenfall's core business strategy.
  • Synchrony Financial (SYF) announced a new, multi-year agreement to offer a private label credit card program for consumers to finance a wide range of home improvement products and services through My Home Renovator locations.
  • SGI (SGI) announced that energy company Total (TOT) has chosen SGI to upgrade its supercomputer "Pangea."
  • EXFO (EXFO) announced that it has entered into a reseller agreement with Teletech, an Australian telecom test equipment manufacturer, for the TS125 Remote Far End Device. This reseller agreement paves the way towards a complete solution for all operators and contractors with existing methods and procedures in place, where the use of a Far End Device complements their copper pair quality testing.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) announces the new Surface, the Surface 3, starting at just $499. The Surface 3 and new accessories will be available for pre-order starting March 31.
  • Avid (AVID) announced that Radio Televisi n Espa ola, Spain's national public broadcast organization, has embraced Avid Everywhere to streamline its production processes and collaboration among its multiple facilities across Spain.

9:15 am Pope Resources L.P. announces $4.9 million conservation sale to the Trust of Public Land, consisting of ~3,607 acres in Jefferson County, Washington (POPE) : The sale consisted of a conservation easement covering 3,607 acres in Jefferson County, Washington, of which 215 acres were sold in fee, leaving 3,392 acres remaining under Pope Resources' ownership subject to the easement that precludes development but allows continuing timberland operations.

9:15 am Synta Pharma prices 22 mln share public offering of common stock at $1.75/share; gross proceeds to Synta are expected to be ~$38.5 mln (SNTA) :  

9:14 am Intercept Pharma announces pricing of 1.2 mln share public offering of common stock, expecting gross proceeds of ~$338.4 mln, with closing expected on April 6,2015 (ICPT) :  

9:10 am S&P futures vs fair value: -12.80. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -16.60. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for a cautious open with S&P 500 futures trading 13 points below fair value. Index futures have spent the entire night in negative territory, sliding to lows shortly after 7:00 ET. Since then, futures have inched up off their lows, but they continue holding the bulk of their losses while markets in Europe also trade in the red.

Yesterday, the market rallied despite dollar strength, which has continued into today. The Dollar Index (98.42, +0.45) is higher by 0.5% and is on track to end the month higher by nearly 3.0%. Furthermore, the index has extended its Q1 gain to 8.2%.

Dollar strength has posed a headwind to crude oil since the start of the year and the energy component trades lower by 1.8% at $47.78/bbl today, which has widened its quarterly loss to 12.8%.

On the corporate front, homebuilders are likely to show relative strength with DR Horton (DHI 28.20, +0.19) trading higher by 0.7% in pre-market after Susquehanna upgraded the stock to 'Positive' from 'Neutral.'

Treasuries hold slim gains with the 10-yr yield down a basis point at 1.94%.

9:09 am Select Comfort has filed definitive proxy materials with the SEC in connection with its 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders; letter to shareholders urges re-election of Board nominees (SCSS) : The co notes:

  • "This year your vote is especially important, given the contested election of directors. Specifically, Blue Clay Capital Partners CO III LP (together with its affiliates and related parties, "Blue Clay"), which beneficially owns approximately 2% of Select Comfort's outstanding shares, has launched a proxy contest and is attempting to replace two incumbent Select Comfort directors with its own nominees. Consistent with our diligent governance practices, your Board's Nominating and Governance Committee along with the Company's President and CEO interviewed Blue Clay's two nominees, and following due consideration, the Company's full Board concluded that Blue Clay's nominees are not qualified to serve on Select Comfort's Board. Moreover, in its filings and recommendations to Select Comfort's Board and management team, Blue Clay has advocated risky and poorly conceived changes to the Company's successful strategy - accordingly, we urge you to use the enclosed WHITE proxy card to vote FOR Select Comfort's nominees."

9:07 am Cape Bancorp has entered into a definitive agreement with Sun National Bank (SNBC) to acquire Sun's branch location in Hammonton, New Jersey (CBNJ) : The purchase includes approximately $34.1 million of deposits and approximately $4.9 million of loans. Subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the branch purchase is expected to be completed in July of 2015.

9:04 am Lifevantage announces that Vice President of Product Development Nathalie Chevreau, PhD is presenting a poster abstract at the Experimental Biology 2015 Boston meeting (LFVN) : The poster highlights a portion of the findings from clinical research being conducted by LifeVantage on its Canine Health product, a Nrf2 Synergizer for dogs.

  • The findings from the research show a decrease in oxidative stress in dogs that have taken Canine Health over a period of 60 days. The studies also demonstrate improved physical performance in the dogs taking Canine Health. These improvements include greater mobility, faster running times, decreased stiffness, and increased energy levels when compared to dogs taking a placebo.

9:02 am U.S. Steel announces it will idle its Minntac Plant in Mt. Iron, Minn., effective June 1 (X) : Co stated that the action is due to the company's current inventory levels and ongoing adjustment of its steelmaking operations throughout North America. The company will continue to operate Minntac at reduced capacity in order to meet customer demand.

9:02 am GigOptix raises Q1 revenue guidance (GIG) : Co announced it currently expects revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2015, ended March 29, 2015, will be approximately 5-6% above the midpoint of the guidance range of $8.5 million to $8.7 million (approx $8.9-9.2 mln, Capital IQ consensus $8.6 mln), provided on February 9, 2015, and also represents an increase of approximately 22-23% y/y. The stronger preliminary revenue performance comes during what is traditionally a seasonally down quarter for the Company. Continued robust demand in both the Company's High Speed Communications and Industrial businesses resulted in the higher than forecasted revenue.

9:01 am L-3 Communications announces award of US Army Combat Casualty Care Program contract worth a maximum $117 mln (LLL) : Under the new contract, L-3 NSS will expand its current engineering and integration efforts to include operational technical support for the tactical medical information system. The period of performance runs from January 2015 through December 2019.

9:01 am Insmed prices 10 mln share offering at $20.65/share; net proceeds expected to be ~ $194 mln (INSM) : Co intends to use the net proceeds from this offering to fund further clinical development of ARIKAYCE, to fund its efforts to obtain regulatory approvals and commercialize ARIKAYCE, to fund further clinical development of INS1009, to invest in increased third-party manufacturing capacity in anticipation of possible commercial launch of ARIKAYCE in Europe and the US, and the balance to fund working capital, potential debt repayment, capital expenditures, general research and development, and other general corporate purposes, which may include the acquisition or in-license of additional compounds, product candidates, technology or businesses.

9:01 am Perry Ellis announces an extended license agreement with Nike (NKE) (PERY) : Co announced the extension of its license agreement with Nike, Inc. where PEI will continue to design, produce, manufacture and distribute men's, women's and children's performance and non-performance swimwear products, including swim gear, in North America. In addition, the agreement has been expanded to include territories globally with immediate expansion into certain countries within Europe, Central and South America.

9:01 am AstraZeneca announces MOVANTIK has launched in the United States (AZN) : Co announces MOVANTIK has launched in the United States. Co previously announced a co-commercialization agreement with Daiichi Sankyo for MOVANTIK in the US, in line with the Co's strategy of delivering value through its own development and commercial capabilities, as well as through external collaboration. The Daiichi Sankyo sales force will join AZN in the promotion of MOVANTIK in the US by May 2015. AZN will be responsible for manufacturing, will book all sales and will make sales-related commission payments to Daiichi Sankyo. 

9:01 am S&P futures vs fair value: -12.10. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -16.10. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade 12 points below fair value.

The Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index for January rose 4.6%, which is what the Briefing.com consensus expected. This followed the previous month's increase of 4.5%.

8:59 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW) announces that it has been awarded a contract by EDF Energy to provide project management services to all of its UK nuclear power stations and technical offices in Gloucester and East Kilbride. The nine year agreement (five years plus two optional two-year periods) is currently one of the largest project management contracts within the UK nuclear industry and is worth up to 15 million a year.
  • Neogen (NEOG) announced it has developed a rapid test that can simultaneously detect the presence of six tree nuts in a single test in just 10 minutes after extraction. Neogen's new Reveal for Multi-Treenut detects 5-10 parts per million (ppm) of almond, hazelnut, pecan, walnut, cashew and pistachio residues on environmental surfaces, as well as in rinses. 
  • Torchlight Energy Resources (TRCH) announced that they have begun to drill the first test well in the Orogrande project, The University Rich A11.  The University Rich A11 well will be a vertical test well drilled to approximately 6,000 feet. The Company will be testing multiple zones, targeting the WolfPenn formation and expects to encounter pay thickness of 1,300 to 2,000 feet over different intervals. 
  • Envestnet (ENV) announced it has launched a new series of Factor-Enhanced Portfolios designed to combine the benefits of index-based investments with active exposure to key factors that strive to improve risk-adjusted returns compared with traditional market capitalization-weighted indexes.
  • MAXIMUS (MMS) announced that its Australian subsidiary, MAX Solutions, has been notified of award on a five-year contract to operate jobactive the Department of Employment. The new contract launches July 1, 2015. MAXIMUS estimates the annual revenue will be at least consistent and may exceed the current annual run rate on its existing Job Services Australia contract. The Company expects to provide further details upon execution of the final jobactive contract.
  • Ocata Therapeutics (OCAT) announced that it has completed dosing of its Phase 1/2 studies for dry age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt's Macular Degeneration. "With successful completion of dosing for the phase 1/2 studies at the highest dose level, and following safety data review by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, we are now able to focus on initiation and execution of our Phase 2 study for AMD and our pivotal study for SMD."

8:50 am PlasmaTech Biopharma announces that its Korean marketing partner Hanmi Pharmaceutical has received marketing approval for MuGard in Korea (PTBI) : Under the terms of the previously announced marketing agreement, Hanmi will import MuGard from the United States and marketing will commence. Hanmi intends to market MuGard in Korea under the trade name Mucogard.

8:45 am Sun Bancorp announces plan to realign branch offices within its footprint, which will include the consolidation of nine branches into nearby locations, as well as the sale of one branch office (SNBC) : Co announces plan to realign branch offices within its footprint, which will include the consolidation of nine branches into nearby locations, as well as the sale of one branch office.

  •  Co will sell Sun National Bank's Hammonton branch assets and related deposits and loans to Cape Bank for a deposit premium of 4%, resulting in an anticipated net gain of ~$0.5 mln.
  • Expected reduction in annual non-interest expense of ~$4.6 mln as a result of announced branch sale and branch consolidations.
  • The outcome of the multiple consolidations and sales since then result in a 39% reduction in locations, anticipated annualized direct expense reduction of ~$10 mln, a significant increase in average deposits per branch and a net gain of ~$6.5 mln.

8:45 am Gapping down (:SCANX) : Gapping down
In reaction to disappointing earnings/guidance
: GV -22.8%, CLDN -6%, SPU -4.7%, AMCO -3.8%, ARGS -2.8%, ATOS -1%, APA -0.8%

M&A news: TCK -7.7% (Antofagasta (ANFGY) confirms that it is not in discussions with Teck Resources about a potential merger), LO -2.9% (NYPost details news that FTC may file lawsuit to block RAI / LO merger), PHG -2.1% (to sell majority interest in combined LED components and Automotive lighting business to consortium led by GO Scale Capital), RAI -1.9% (NYPost details news that FTC may file lawsuit to block RAI / LO merger)

Select metals/mining stocks trading lower: BHP -1.9%, RIO -1.7%, FCX -1.5%, AA -0.9%

Select oil/gas related names showing early weakness: SSL -3.5%, SDRL -2.4%, STO -2%, BP -1.8%, TOT -1.6%, RIG -1.4%, CHK -0.9%, HAL -0.8%, .

Other news: EGY -20.8% (provides update on operations offshore Angola), SNTA -17.2% (commenced an underwritten public offering of shares of its common stock), ICPT -5% ( announces that it is commencing an underwritten public offering of 1.2 mln shares of its common stock), INSM -4.7% (announces proposed public offering of common stock), INSM -4.7% (announces public offering of 10 mln shares of common stock), CONE -3% (commenced the public offering of 12,200,000 shares of its common stock), GRPN -2.6% (Reuters details news that KKR (KKR) and other firms may be discussions to purchase stake in South Korea Groupon (GRPN) unit), RPTP -2.3% (commenced an underwritten public offering of $75 million of shares of its common stock), NBG -2.3% (cont uncertainty in Greece), CHRS -1.6% (announces proposed public offering of common stock worth ~$100 mln), ICON -1.5% (disclosed that on March 24, 2015, CFO Jeff Lupinacci notified of his intention to resign, with 60 days' notice, to pursue another business opportunity), PRTK -0.8% (discloses update to previously announced patent infringement trial)

Analyst comments: DB -1.9% (downgraded to Neutral at Credit Suisse), SLB -1.4% (downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo)

8:45 am Vonage announces it was granted seven new patents in the first quarter of 2015 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (VG) : The Company now owns 75 U.S. patents, with more than 250 U.S. patent applications pending, along with numerous foreign patents and pending applications in jurisdictions worldwide.

8:41 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Federal-Mogul Powertrain, a division of Federal- Mogul Holdings (FDML), announced it will build a new facility for sealing and gasket products in Nanchang, China to satisfy the growing demand from Chinese OEMs to meet stringent environmental regulations. The new 24,000 square-meter facility will double the capacity of the company's current sealing manufacturing operations in Nanchang and will be located in the Nanchang Economic and Technological Development Zone. Production is expected to begin in 2016.
  • ITG (ITG) announced the launch of ITG Smart Limit Retail Algorithm, a retail order-specific version of the innovative ITG Smart Limit Algorithm designed to improve passive trading performance in a highly competitive, fragmented market.
  • Intellicheck Mobilisa (IDN) has been awarded a subcontract from TechFlow, Inc. to design, prototype, implement and commercialize a "big data" analytics system and innovative secure common sensor interface.
  • Deloitte and Verizon (VZ) Enterprise Solutions announced a strategic alliance to deliver a comprehensive set of security and risk-management solutions to help businesses prepare, respond and recover more efficiently, effectively, and thoroughly when a cyberattack occurs.
  • International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) announced that it has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification for its new flavors creative center in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Demandware (DWRE) announced that GoPro (GPRO) is using Demandware Commerce for its commerce operations.
  • ADTRAN (ADTN) announced ProCloud.EDU, a wireless digital learning suite that unlocks the power of technology in the classroom with secure, cloud-managed Wi-Fi that is optimized from the network down to each student device.
  • Zayo Group (ZAYO) announced an extension of its 100G wavelength network, rolling out 100G lineside capability across its metro network in London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris. 
  • ZBB Energy (ZBB) announced the successful third party validation of its breakthrough Agile Flow Battery specifically designed for behind the meter energy storage applications in the commercial and industrial building market.
  • Global Payments (GPN) announced a partnership between OpenEdge, its integrated payments division, and Carolina Software, Inc., developer of the industry leading WasteWORKS software suite for the municipal waste market. WasteWORKS will be among the first applications to integrate the EdgeShield security bundle.
  • Immersion (IMMR) announced the rollout of the TouchSense Engage solution for Mobile Games. The new solution takes mobile games to the next level by providing tools plus creative design support and services for adding custom tactile effects to engage users' sense of touch.
  • Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) announces the launch of the generic equivalent to Exforge Tablets in four different strengths, in the United States. Exforge Tablets are used in the treatment of high blood pressure, a chronic condition often without symptoms that is linked to serious health issues such as heart disease and stroke, if not detected early and treated appropriately. 
  • Campbell Soup (CPB) announced the appointment of Ed Carolan as Senior Vice President of Integrated Global Services. The creation of IGS is a key step in Campbell's efforts to reduce costs and elevate operational excellence by delivering a range of transactional and knowledge-based services at an enterprise level rather than within each division.
  • CVS Health (CVS) announced it has entered into new clinical affiliations with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois and Tucson Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona and their accountable care organization, Arizona Connected Care. These affiliations will help enhance access to high-quality, affordable health care services for patients.

8:40 am Gapping up (:SCANX) : Gapping up
In reaction to strong earnings/guidance
: EVK +30.2%, SORL +24%, GOL +8.3%, SMTX +7.1%, DANG +6.9%, MOV +5.4%, BAMM +3.6%, CPHI +3.1%, AUPH +2.9%, SAIC +2.3%, CONN +1.2%

M&A news: CHTR +8.5% (Reuters report that company will soon acquire Bright House Networks),MRH +3.5% (to be acquired by Endurance Specialty Holdings (ENH) for $40.24 per share in cash and stock deal),JCI +1.7% (reached a definitive agreement for the sale of its Global WorkPlace Solutions business to CBRE Group (CBG) for $1.475 bln),.

Other news: OXGN +9% (Frigate Ventures disclosed 8.4% passive stake in 13G filing),BCRX +6.8% (awarded contract by BARDA for continued development of BCX4430 as potential treatment for diseases caused by RNA pathogens),ATRS +5% (announces that Ferring Pharmaceuticals has received FDA approval of a name change enabling its newly acquired recombinant human growth hormone to be marketed in the U.S. as ZOMACTON),DRYS +4.9% ( announces agreement to sell tanker fleet for an en-bloc sales price of $245 mln),GWPH +4% (initiates first Phase 3 pivotal trial for Epidiolex to treat Dravet Syndrome),AKAO +2.5% (to host webcast/teleconference providing an update on plazomicin tomorrow March 31 at 4:30pm ET),RDHL +1.2% (acquires Phase II Oral Small Molecule SK2 inhibitor From Apogee Biotech)

Analyst comments: CNDO +4.2% (upgraded to Buy from Hold at MLV & Co),HZNP +3.8% (upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray),IMGN +3.3% (upgraded to Buy from Hold at Cantor Fitzgerald),JCP +2.8% (target raised to $14 from $13 at Piper Jaffray),OVAS +1.5% (Science Magazine discusses the controversy around OVAS's AUGEMENT Fertility Treatment),PCLN +1.3% (upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel),MXPT +0.7% (initiated with an Outperform at Pacific Crest)

8:38 am Intelli-Check awarded subcontract from TechFlow for big data analytics system and secure common sensor interface (IDN) : The initial effort will securely capture and analyze energy use data from energy systems from networked devices aboard U.S. Navy installations. Post-analysis, the system will provide a data analysis "dashboard," predicting both future energy usage and recommendations for reduction of energy.

8:34 am NextEra Energy reaffirms growth expectations through 2018 (NEE) : NEE reaffirms its previously disclosed average adjusted earnings per share growth expectations of approximately 5-7% per year through 2018 from a 2014 adjusted earnings per share base.

  • NEE's previously disclosed adjusted earnings per share expectations for 2015, 2016 and 2018 are as follows: 
    • 2015: $5.40 - $5.70 (Capital IQ consensus $5.64)
    • 2016: $5.75 - $6.25 (Capital IQ consensus $6.06)
    • 2018: $6.50 - $7.00 (Capital IQ consensus $6.85)

8:33 am Emulex and Avago Technologies Limited announce a $8 per share cash tender offer for Emulex corporation shares (ELX) :

  • Avago Technologies Limited (AVGO) and Emulex Corporation (ELX) announced that Emerald Merger Sub, Inc., a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Avago, plans to commence its $8.00 per share cash tender offer for all shares of Emulex on April 7, 2015. 
  • The tender offer is pursuant to a merger agreement among Avago Technologies Wireless Manufacturing Inc., a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Avago, Purchaser and Emulex which provides for Avago USA to acquire Emulex in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $606 million, or $609 million net of cash and debt acquired. 
  • It is expected that the transaction will close in the second half of Avago's fiscal year ending November 1, 2015.

8:33 am EDAP TMS SA announces the first sale of Focal One HIFU device to Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Canada (EDAP) :

  • Co announced the first sale of Focal One HIFU device to Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Canada. 
  • This sale occurs only two months after the Company gained Health Canada's approval to market its Focal One HIFU device for focal treatment of prostate cancer.

8:31 am Medtronic announced its CoreValve System received FDA approval for use in Transcatheter Valve-In-Valve Procedures (MDT) : Co announces FDA approval of the CoreValve System for valve-in-valve procedures in patients whose surgical aortic heart valves have failed. The CoreValve System is the first transcatheter heart valve approved in the U.S. for VIV procedures in both high and extreme risk patients who have limited options or may otherwise go untreated. Results from the largest global VIV registry showed the VIV approach resulted in considerable hemodynamic improvements, including a decrease in blood flow resistance. In this registry, positive procedural outcomes were maintained at one year follow-up with 89% survival, which was comparable with other non-VIV TAVR studies.

8:30 am S&P futures vs fair value: -13.60. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -21.10. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade 14 points below fair value.

Asian equity markets finished the day on a mixed note. The Shanghai Composite led off this morning with a 1.0% fall, which seemed fairly predictable following the PBOC's announcement to ease property curbs yesterday morning. As such, traders took profits out of the index on the last trading day of the quarter. A local report out of the Mainland suggested that the policy change could boost new home sales by mid-single-digits by year end.

  • In economic data: 
    • Japan's February Housing Starts -3.1% year-over-year (expected -7.1%; last -13.0%) 
    • Hong Kong's February Retail Sales +14.9% year-over-year (consensus -8.4%; previous -14.5%) 
    • South Korea's February Industrial Production +2.6% month-over-month (expected 0.4%; last -3.8%) while Retail Sales +2.8% month-over-month (last -2.8%) 
    • Australia's February HIA New Home Sales +1.1% month-over-month (prior 1.8%) and February Private Sector Credit +0.5% month-over-month, as expected 
    • New Zealand's February Building Consents -6.3% month-over-month (consensus 2.0%; last -4.6%) 
------
  • Japan's Nikkei lost 1.1%. All sectors finished in negative territory with Consumer Staples (-2.2%) and Financials (-1.9%) taking the brunt of the selling pressure. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended +0.2% higher with gains in the energy sector leading the way. Both CNOOC (+1.5%) and Petro China +0.8% outperformed the benchmark today. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite decline 1.0% with some profit taking seen in some of the names that moved higher yesterday. Poly Real Estate closed down 3% on the day, while Bank of China lost 1.8%. 
Major European indices trade lower across the board with UK's FTSE (-1.5%) leading the slide. Elsewhere, Greece and the Eurogroup remain at odds with just over a week until April 9, when a EUR460 million payment to the IMF becomes due. It is worth noting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is scheduled to visit Russia on April 8.
  • Economic data was plentiful: 
    • Eurozone March CPI -0.1% year-over-year and core CPI +0.6% year-over-year. Both figures matched expectations. Separately, Unemployment Rate ticked down to 11.3% from 11.4% (consensus 11.2%) 
    • Germany's February Retail Sales -0.5% month-over-month (consensus -0.7%; prior 2.3%) while the Claimant Count declined by 15,000 (expected -12,000; prior -20,000). Separately, Unemployment Rate ticked down to 6.4% from 6.5% (consensus 6.5%) 
    • UK's Q4 GDP was revised up to 0.6% quarter-over-quarter from 0.5% (consensus 0.5%) while Current Account deficit narrowed to GBP25.30 billion from GBP27.70 billion (expected deficit of GBP21.50 billion) 
    • French February Consumer Spending +0.1% month-over-month (consensus 0.8%; last 0.7%) 
    • Spain's February Retail Sales +2.7% year-over-year (consensus 4.0%; last 4.0%) 
    • Italy's Monthly Unemployment Rate rose to 12.7% from 12.6% (consensus 12.6%). Separately, March CPI +0.1%, as expected 
------
  • France's CAC is lower by 0.9% with exporters Peugeot and Renault both down near 2.0%. Financials also lag with Credit Agricole and Societe Generale down 1.0% and 1.7%, respectively. 
  • Germany's DAX trades down 1.1% with all but four components in the red. Exporters also lag with BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen down between 1.2% and 1.8%. Henkel AG outperforms, trading higher by 0.8%. 
  • UK's FTSE has given up 1.5% amid broad weakness. Miners are among the weakest performers with Anglo American, Fresnillo, and Randgold Resources showing losses between 1.0% and 2.8%. On the upside, Kingfisher has jumped 3.7% after announcing plans for restructuring.

8:30 am Charter Comm confirms it will acquire Bright House for ~$10.4 bln (CHTR) : Bright House is the sixth largest cable operator in the United States, and serves approximately 2 million video customers in central Florida including Orlando and Tampa Bay, as well as Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, and California.

  • The business will be conducted through a partnership of which Charter will own 73.7%, and of which Advance/Newhouse will own 26.3%. The consideration to be paid to Advance/Newhouse by New Charter will include common and convertible preferred units in the Partnership, in addition to $2 billion in cash. The partnership units owned by Advance/Newhouse will be exchangeable for common shares of New Charter.
  • Pursuant to the Agreement, New Charter and Advance/Newhouse will form the Partnership utilizing an existing subsidiary of Charter Communications Holding Company, LLC, a partnership subsidiary of Charter. New Charter will contribute 100% of its assets into the Partnership, and Advance/Newhouse will contribute 100% of Bright House's assets into the Partnership. In exchange for its contribution, Advance/Newhouse will receive $5.9 billion of exchangeable common partnership units, and $2.5 billion of convertible preferred partnership units which will pay a 6% coupon. The common and convertible preferred partnership units are each exchangeable into New Charter Class A common stock, with 34.3 million common units priced at $173.00 (the "Reference Price") per share. The Reference Price negotiated with Advance/Newhouse represents the 60-day Charter volume weighted average price as of March 27, 2015, and adjusted from March 12, 2015. The 10.3 million preferred partnership units will be convertible at $242.19, a 40% premium to the Reference Price. Advance/Newhouse will also receive $2 billion in cash and will receive governance rights reflecting its economic ownership in the partnership through a new class of shares at New Charter.
  • In addition, Liberty Broadband Corporation has agreed to purchase, upon closing of the Bright House transaction, $700 million of newly issued New Charter shares at the Reference Price. On an as-converted basis of its exchangeable partnership units, and including the impact of both the issuance of shares to acquire 33% of GreatLand Connections Inc. and Liberty Broadband's purchase of new shares, Advance/Newhouse is expected to own 26.3% of New Charter's outstanding common shares, and it is expected that Liberty Broadband's equity ownership will represent 19.4% of New Charter's outstanding common shares.
  • The deal is subject to several conditions, including Charter shareholder approval, the expiration of Time Warner Cable's (TWC) right of first offer for Bright House, the close of Charter's previously-announced transactions with Comcast (CMCSA) and regulatory approval.

8:26 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Retail Properties of America (RPAI) announced that it has signed three new leases with Ulta Beauty and will expand two shopping centers to accommodate the retailer. 
  • UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies (UTX), has been selected by Qatar Airways to supply the wheels and carbon brakes for its fleet of 43 Airbus A350-900 aircraft.  The company will provide the equipment through its Landing Systems facility in Troy, Ohio.  Qatar Airways took delivery of their first A350-900 aircraft in December 2014.
  • Callidus Software (CALD) announced that CallidusCloud is now enabling over 130 of the world's top insurers to improve agent effectiveness in the era of the digital agency.
  • Infinera (INFN) announced that Facebook (FB) deployed an Infinera Intelligent Transport Network to light the world's longest terrestrial optical network route capable of delivering up to eight terabits per second (Tb/s) of data transmission capacity. 
  • NxStage Kidney Care, a subsidiary of NxStage Medical (NXTM), announced the opening of its Greenbelt, Maryland dialysis center, offering patients several flexible therapy options.
  • Global Eagle Entertainment (ENT) announced the launch of GEE Maritime. GEE Maritime is the company's new brand image and logo for its non-theatrical entertainment and media solutions business to cruise ships, merchant ships and yachts.
  • Information Services International-Dentsu and UBIC (UBIC) announced that they have started co-development of a new digital curation service, which analyzes a massive pool of information over the Internet and makes tailored recommendations through the use of UBIC's artificial intelligence-based Predictive Coding and related technologies.
  • Zillow Group (Z) announced that the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service has signed an agreement to enable its brokers to send listings directly to Zillow and Trulia from the MLS. ARMLS has 31,000 members throughout Arizona.
  • NXT-ID (NXTD) announces it has expanded its current TV ad campaign for the Wocket smart wallet to include new markets and channels.
  • QLogic (QLGC) announced that its QLogic FastLinQ 3400 Series Intelligent Ethernet adapters are certified with Cloudera Enterprise 5 as part of the Cloudera Certified Technology program.
  • Towerstream (TWER) announced the addition of five buildings to its On-Net Fixed Wireless Service offering. Businesses located in these buildings now have access to 100 Mbps of dedicated, symmetrical Internet connectivity, backed by an industry leading SLA (service level agreement), for $699 per month.
  • Immune Pharmaceuticals (IMNP) announced that it intends to expand its planned bullous pemphigoid clinical development for bertilimumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting eotaxin-1. Bullous Pemphigoid is an orphan auto-immune blistering disease of the skin affecting approximately 60,000 patients in the US and Europe.
  • Capricor Therapeutics (CAPR) announced that it has completed enrollment of its first Phase II clinical trial of Cenderitide in ambulatory heart failure patients. Cenderitide is in development for the outpatient treatment of patients following an acute admission for heart failure, as well as other potential indications. "We look forward to reporting on top line data from this trial during the second half of 2015 and announcing further clinical development plans in the coming months."

8:25 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Qlik (QLIK) announced that Cwm Taf University Health Board will be deploying Qlik Sense across the organization to help improve patient care. 
  • Macy's (M) announced that Bloomingdale's plans to open a 150,000-square-foot, three-level location in fall 2018 in an all-new shopping, dining and entertainment center being developed in Norwalk, CT, by General Growth Properties (GGP). 
  • Kohl's Department Stores (KSS) announced an expanding assortment of exclusive active and wellness offerings, new credible partnerships and unique social integrations that further the company's commitment to active and well lifestyles promoted under the Make Your Move initiative launched earlier this year. 
  • GE unit (GE) GE Energy Financial Services and Virginia Solar Group subsidiary Pacifico Energy have partnered for a third time to construct a solar power project in Japan. GE Energy Financial Services and Virginia Solar Group will jointly invest equity in a 96.2-megawatt photovoltaic solar plant, with GE Energy Financial Services' commitment totaling 7.5 bln YEN. 
  • Verifone (PAY) announced that TransFirst, a leading provider of transaction processing services and payment enabling technologies, has certified Verifone's Secure Commerce Architecture. 
  • Unisys (UIS) announced that its federal government business organization was certified as compliant with the ISO/IEC 20000 standard for best practices related to delivering managed services that meet business and customer requirements. 
  • Crossroads Systems (CRDS) announced multi-library support in its release of the StrongBox 3.0 NAS appliance. This enhancement, available to new and existing customers in April, allows StrongBox users to manage their exploding storage requirements while protecting data in more than one location. 
  • ANI Pharmaceuticals (ANIP) announced the launch of Propafenone Hydrochloride 150mg, 225mg and 300mg oral tablets, indicated for use in the treatment of various arrhythmias. The overall US market for Propafenone Hydrochloride 150mg, 225mg and 300mg tablets was $14 million in 2014, per IMS Health. 
  • Ingram Micro (IM) announced a new business relationship with Global Technology Systems, Inc.. Under the new alliance, Ingram Micro Canada will offer GTS' full suite of high-performance mobile power products to channel partners throughout Canada.

8:22 am European Markets Update: CAC -0.9%, DAX -1.1%, FTSE -1.5% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices trade lower across the board with UK's FTSE (-1.5%) leading the slide. Elsewhere, Greece and the Eurogroup remain at odds with just over a week until April 9, when a EUR460 million payment to the IMF becomes due. It is worth noting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is scheduled to visit Russia on April 8.

  • Economic data was plentiful: 
    • Eurozone March CPI -0.1% year-over-year and core CPI +0.6% year-over-year. Both figures matched expectations. Separately, Unemployment Rate ticked down to 11.3% from 11.4% (consensus 11.2%) 
    • Germany's February Retail Sales -0.5% month-over-month (consensus -0.7%; prior 2.3%) while the Claimant Count declined by 15,000 (expected -12,000; prior -20,000). Separately, Unemployment Rate ticked down to 6.4% from 6.5% (consensus 6.5%) 
    • UK's Q4 GDP was revised up to 0.6% quarter-over-quarter from 0.5% (consensus 0.5%) while Current Account deficit narrowed to GBP25.30 billion from GBP27.70 billion (expected deficit of GBP21.50 billion) 
    • French February Consumer Spending +0.1% month-over-month (consensus 0.8%; last 0.7%) 
    • Spain's February Retail Sales +2.7% year-over-year (consensus 4.0%; last 4.0%) 
    • Italy's Monthly Unemployment Rate rose to 12.7% from 12.6% (consensus 12.6%). Separately, March CPI +0.1%, as expected 
------
  • France's CAC is lower by 0.9% with exporters Peugeot and Renault both down near 2.0%. Financials also lag with Credit Agricole and Societe Generale down 1.0% and 1.7%, respectively. 
  • Germany's DAX trades down 1.1% with all but four components in the red. Exporters also lag with BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen down between 1.2% and 1.8%. Henkel AG outperforms, trading higher by 0.8%. 
  • UK's FTSE has given up 1.5% amid broad weakness. Miners are among the weakest performers with Anglo American, Fresnillo, and Randgold Resources showing losses between 1.0% and 2.8%. On the upside, Kingfisher has jumped 3.7% after announcing plans for restructuring.

8:19 am Omnicell announces the conclusion of an investigation into certain whistleblower allegations that had postponed the filing of its 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K (OMCL) : The co also announced that the 2014 report has now been filed with the Securities Exchange Commission

  • After a thorough investigation, Omnicell concluded that a letter was written by a Company sales representative in 2010 to a single customer that summarized terms of a quotation and was presented to the customer in the normal course of the sales process. The Company concluded that the letter did not promise discounts to the customer that were not included in the Company's financial statements. Upon review of documents and other information related to this allegation and other sales activity at the Company, the Company reaffirmed that financial controls were operating effectively

8:12 am PPG Industries has completed the acquisition of certain assets of Flood Australia; terms not disclosed (PPG) : Flood products in Australia are distributed at home improvement stores, including Bunnings, Masters, Mitre 10, Danks, and independent paint dealers. No manufacturing assets or facilities were included in the acquisition.

8:11 am CAMAC Energy has finished completion operations on the Oyo-8 well, located offshore Nigeria, and is now ready to commence oil production (CAK) : Oyo-8 is hooked up to the FPSO Armada Perdana owned by Bumi Armada Berhad. However, CAMAC has been informed by Bumi that the FPSO is not ready to receive oil production from the well due to class certification inspections of the vessel's mooring lines being conducted by the American Bureau of Shipping ("ABS"). Bumi estimates these inspections to be completed within two weeks, at which time Oyo-8 will be allowed to produce into the FPSO.

  •  In the meantime, CAMAC is demobilizing the Sedco Express drilling rig from the Oyo-8 location and the rig will then mobilize to the Oyo-6 well location to continue its planned Oyo field operations. The Company does not anticipate further changes to the project schedule of the Oyo-7 well as a result of the FPSO inspection delays.

8:09 am Dangdang reports EPS in-line, revs in-line; guides Q1 revs in-line (DANG) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.07 per share, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.07; rev +27% to $403.7 mln vs. $407.4 mln consensus.

  • Merchandise Value (GMV.V) from the marketplace in the fourth quarter of 2014 was RMB2,247.1 million ($362.2 million), a 61.2% increase from the corresponding period in 2013. The combination of product revenue from principal business and GMV from the marketplace reached RMB4,662.3 million ($751.4 million) and grew 42.7% year-over-year.
Co issues in-line guidance for Q1, sees Q1 revs of ~RMB 2.2 bln vs. RMB 2.2 bln Capital IQ Consensus. The Company also expects GMV from its marketplace to grow at a rate of 49% year-over-year to ~RMB1.77 billion in the first quarter of 2015. 

8:06 am Skypeople Fruit Juice reports FY14 EPS of $0.30 vs $0.46 in the prior year, revenue rose 25% to $99.1 mln (SPU) :

  • Gross profit margin was 30% in 2014 as compared to 35% in 2013
  • "Our outlook for 2015 is positive since we believe that the underlying fundamentals of demand for our products continue to be sound. We believe that continued urbanization, changing demographics, higher personal incomes and a further transition towards healthy lifestyles will lead to growth in our business."

8:05 am Diana Shipping announced entrance into a term loan facility and a subsequent drawdown of $50.16 mln (DSX) :  

8:03 am Intra-Cellular Therapies presents data from its ITI-007 clinical development program; Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with schizophrenia, ITI-007 demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in psychosis (ITCI) : Co presents data regarding the ITI-007 development program and described the rationale supporting the strategy for the advancement of ITI-007 in multiple clinical indications at the 15th International Congress on Schizophrenia Research (:ICOSR) in Colorado Springs. In a poster the co described the rationale for dose selection in the ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial in schizophrenia. Preclinical data predicted antipsychotic efficacy at human equivalent doses as low as 20 -- 40 mg of ITI-007. Positron emission tomography (:PET) data in healthy volunteers demonstrated striatal D2 receptor occupancy of ~20% and ~40% at doses of 20 mg and 40 mg, respectively.

8:03 am Apache reports appraisal- and development-drilling program at recent Berenice and Ptah fields yield strong initial results (APA) : Co reported strong appraisal- and development-drilling results from Egypt following the previously announced discovery of two new oil fields in the Western Desert.

  • Five wells, including the discovery wells, have been completed to date by Khalda Petroleum Company, Apache's joint-venture company with EGPC. 
  • All five wells are producing without the need for fracture stimulation at a combined rate of more than 13,600 barrels of oil per day (bbl/d) with first production starting in November 2014.
  • The wells have produced approximately 1 million barrels of oil to date. 

8:02 am Air Products reaffirms Q2, FY15 guidance at Investor Conf. (APD) : Air Products reaffirms its previous guidance for its fiscal 2015 second quarter non-GAAP earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations $1.50 and $1.55 per share, representing a 14% to 17% increase over the prior year, vs. $1.54 consensus and non-GAAP EPS guidance for continuing operations for fiscal 2015 of $6.35 to $6.55 per share vs. $6.49 consensus, a 10% to 13% increase over fiscal 2014.

8:02 am Great Basin Scientific announces the USPTO issued a notice of allowance for patent 8,936,921 for its method of isothermal helicase-dependent amplification using blocked primers (GBSN) : This newly issued patent further enhances the Company's patent family, which includes U.S. patent 8,637,250 (issued Jan. 28, 2014) for systems and methods for point-of-care amplification and detection of polynucleotides covering isothermal amplification using HDA on the surface of chips.

8:01 am blackstone and Gridliance announce the formation of a new electric transmission company (BX) : GridLiance GP, LLC and Blackstone Energy Partners, an affiliate of The Blackstone Group L.P. (BX) announced the formation of GridLiance, the nation's first competitive transmission company focused on collaborating with under-served U.S. municipal, cooperative and joint action agency utilities to jointly plan, develop, own and operate transmission infrastructure. These new projects will deliver important customer benefits, including lower delivered energy costs and more reliable transmission service.

8:01 am Seaspan announces that it accepted delivery of a 10000 TEU containership, the MOL Beacon (SSW) : The new containership, which was constructed at Jiangsu Yangzi Xinfu Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., is Seaspan's seventh 10000 TEU SAVER design containership and first delivery in 2015. This is the twelfth 10000 TEU vessel using Seaspan's fuel-efficient SAVER design constructed at Yangzijiang.

8:01 am Raytheon announces it received a $91.5 mln U.S. Air Force contract award for the Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer missile; awarded a $528.8 mln contract for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles; awarded $109.6 mln to purchase materials needed to meet Missile-6 production requirements (RTN) : Co announces it received a $91.5 mln U.S. Air Force contract modification award for the Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer missile. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by June 2017. This award was booked in the first quarter 2015.

  • Additionally, the co announces it was awarded a $528,797,459 fixed-price incentive, firm target contract modification for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles.
  • Co also awarded $109,583,490 mln to purchase the long-lead materials needed to meet Standard Missile-6 full-rate production requirements and Standard Missile-2 sustainment.

8:00 am Merck and Syndax Pharmaceuticals to collaborate on immuno-oncology study evaluating Entinostat in combination with KEYTRUDA (MRK) : Syndax Pharma and Merck (MRK) announce that they have entered into a clinical trial collaboration to evaluate the safety and efficacy of combining Syndax's entinostat, an investigational epigenetic therapy, with Merck's KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), the first anti-PD-1 therapy approved in the US. The Phase 1b/2 study will evaluate this novel combination regimen in patients with either advanced non-small cell lung cancer (:NSCLC) or melanoma. The study is expected to begin enrolling patients in 2H15.

7:57 am Volt Info has entered into an agreement with Glacier Peak Capital LLC and its affiliates regarding the membership and composition of Volt's board of directors (VISI) : Under the agreement, Volt agreed to add John C. Rudolf, President and Senior Portfolio Manager of Glacier Peak, to the board of directors of Volt effective immediately, and to nominate each of John C. Rudolf, James E. Boone, Nick S. Cyrus, Michael D. Dean, Dana Messina and Laurie Siegel for election at the Company's 2015 annual meeting of shareholders. Current board members Jerome Shaw, Mark N. Kaplan, William H. Turner and Deborah Shaw will not stand for reelection at the 2015 annual meeting and Lloyd Frank will retire from the board of directors of Volt immediately prior to the 2015 annual meeting.

  • Volt also agreed to include in its proxy statement for the 2015 annual meeting, a proposal to amend its restated certificate of incorporation to declassify the Company's board of directors, with the declassification to take effect at the 2015 annual meeting, such that all directors elected at the 2015 annual meeting and thereafter will serve one year terms.

7:57 am S&P futures vs fair value: -12.90. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -20.70. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures trade sharply lower amid defensive action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover 13 points below fair value after notching their pre-market lows within the past hour.

Meanwhile, the Dollar Index (98.51, +0.53) has built on yesterday's advance and is on track to end the month higher by 2.9%. The dollar strength has pressured crude oil, sending it lower by 2.5% to $47.46/bbl.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Index for January will be released at 9:00 ET (Briefing.com consensus 4.6%) while March Chicago PMI (consensus 52.0) and March Consumer Confidence (expected 96.4) will be reported at 9:45 ET and 10:00 ET, respectively.

Treasuries are little changed with the 10-yr yield at 1.95%.

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • Conn's (CONN 29.29, +0.62): +2.2% after reporting a bottom-line miss on better than expected revenue. 
  • DR Horton (DHI 28.18, +0.17): +0.6% after Susquehanna upgraded the stock to 'Positive' from 'Neutral.' 
  • Lorillard (LO 64.00, -2.42): -3.6% after the New York Post reported the Federal Trade Commission may block the company's merger with Reynolds American (RAI 68.45, -1.02).
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.2%, China's Shanghai Composite -1.0%, and Japan's Nikkei -1.1% 
    • In economic data: 
      • Japan's February Housing Starts -3.1% year-over-year (expected -7.1%; last -13.0%) 
      • Hong Kong's February Retail Sales +14.9% year-over-year (consensus -8.4%; previous -14.5%) 
      • South Korea's February Industrial Production +2.6% month-over-month (expected 0.4%; last -3.8%) while Retail Sales +2.8% month-over-month (last -2.8%) 
      • Australia's February HIA New Home Sales +1.1% month-over-month (prior 1.8%) and February Private Sector Credit +0.5% month-over-month, as expected 
      • New Zealand's February Building Consents -6.3% month-over-month (consensus 2.0%; last -4.6%) 
    • In news: 
      • According to China International Capital Corp, new home sales could be boosted by as much as 5.0% following yesterday's easing of lending standards.
  • Major European indices trade lower across the board. France's CAC -0.6%, Germany's DAX -0.7%, and UK's FTSE -1.2%. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB -0.7% and Spain's IBEX -0.3%
    • Economic data was plentiful: 
      • Eurozone March CPI -0.1% year-over-year and core CPI +0.6% year-over-year. Both figures matched expectations. Separately, Unemployment Rate ticked down to 11.3% from 11.4% (consensus 11.2%) 
      • Germany's February Retail Sales -0.5% month-over-month (consensus -0.7%; prior 2.3%) while the Claimant Count declined by 15,000 (expected -12,000; prior -20,000). Separately, Unemployment Rate ticked down to 6.4% from 6.5% (consensus 6.5%) 
      • UK's Q4 GDP was revised up to 0.6% quarter-over-quarter from 0.5% (consensus 0.5%) while Current Account deficit narrowed to GBP25.30 billion from GBP27.70 billion (expected deficit of GBP21.50 billion) 
      • French February Consumer Spending +0.1% month-over-month (consensus 0.8%; last 0.7%) 
      • Spain's February Retail Sales +2.7% year-over-year (consensus 4.0%; last 4.0%) 
      • Italy's Monthly Unemployment Rate rose to 12.7% from 12.6% (consensus 12.6%). Separately, March CPI +0.1%, as expected 
    • Among news of note: 
      • Greece and the Eurogroup remain at odds with just over a week until April 9, when a EUR460 million payment to the IMF becomes due. It is worth noting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is scheduled to visit Russia on April 8.

7:33 am Ocean Bio-Chem reports Q4 results (OBCI) : Q4 EPS $0.06 vs. $0.04 last year; rev +13% to $8.8 mln (no estimates).

"Due to an unusually cold winter, 2015 has started off slower than we anticipated. The prime boating season has been delayed, particularly in northern parts of the United States and Canada, as ice remains in many lakes in the region. We are cautiously optimistic that as the weather improves, we will see stronger sales to our marine customers."

7:31 am TASER announces orders for body cameras and the Ultimate Plan in 1Q15 (TASR) : Co announced the following orders:

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (NC): 1425 AXON body and flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan (TAP)
  • Tracy Police Department (CA): 104 AXON body and flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TAP 
  • Muncie Police Department (:IN): 93 AXON body and flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TAP 
  • Newnan Police Department (:GA): 73 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TAP 
  • El Mirage Police Department (:AZ): 38 AXON body and flex cameras with three years of EVIDENCE.com and TAP 
  • Sugar Land Police Department (TX): 31 AXON body cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TAP 
  • Pennsylvania Game Commission (:PA): 187 AXON body cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com

7:30 am Aeterna Zentaris signs transfer agreement of its Discovery Library with the Medical University of South Carolina (AEZS) : Co announced that it has agreed to transfer its discovery library of roughly 100,000 unique compounds to the South Carolina Center for Therapeutic Discovery & Development pursuant to a just concluded Material Transfer Agreement. The agreement represents the beginning of a long-term relationship between the co and the Center, which is part of The Medical University of South Carolina.

  • The center has agreed to conduct screening and pre-clinical activities with respect to the library with a view toward submitting to the co at least one development candidate in its areas of therapeutic interest per year during a ten-year period beginning in 2018. 
  • Co will receive the right of first refusal to license the development candidates. Should the co decide to further develop a development candidate submitted by the Center, MUSC will license the compound candidate to the co, and be entitled to a royalty on the net sales of all commercialized products developed from the development candidate. However, should the co decide not to further develop the development candidate submitted by the Center, MUSC shall pay to the co a royalty on net sales of all commercialized products developed from the development candidate.

7:30 am Comcast has entered into an agreement with its Vice Chairman and CFO, Michael J. Angelakis, to establish a new, strategic company that will focus on investing in and operating growth-oriented companies, both domestically and internationally (CMCSA) : Mr. Angelakis will serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the new company and bring his strengths of investing in and operating companies, with benefits accruing to Comcast shareholders.

  • The new company will have total capital commitments of up to $4.1 billion, of which $4.0 billion will be invested by Comcast, at least $40 million will be invested personally by Mr. Angelakis, with the remainder coming from other senior members of the new company's management team. This new company will have an exclusive, 10-year partnership with Comcast as sole outside investor. 

7:27 am MasTec announces solicitation of consents from senior note holders and receipt of bank consent to delay delivery of certain financial statements (MTZ) : Co announced that it has received a consent from the bank group under its senior secured credit facility to delay delivery of its annual audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014 and its quarterly financial statements for the fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2015. Under the terms of the consent, the Bank Group has extended the deadline for such delivery requirements to June 1, 2015. Additionally, the Company has commenced a consent solicitation seeking extension of reporting requirements under the instruments governing its $400 million Senior Notes due March 15, 2023. 

7:15 am BG Medicine has filed a 510(k) Premarket Notification with FDA for regulatory clearance of an additional indication for the BGM Galectin-3 Test (BGMD) :  

7:07 am Movado Group beats by $0.20, reports revs in-line; guides FY16 EPS above consensus, revs just below; raises quarterly dividend 10% to $0.11/share (MOV) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $0.40 per share, $0.20 better than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.20; revenues rose 1.2% year/year (-4% adjusted) to $133.9 mln vs the $134.72 mln consensus.

  • Co issues guidance for FY16, sees EPS of $2.00-2.10 vs. $1.89 Capital IQ Consensus; sees FY16 revs of $590-600 mln vs. $602.62 mln Capital IQ Consensus. 
  • "Our brands and businesses performed above our revised expectations and led to fourth quarter and fiscal year 2015 earnings surpassing our guidance. The overall watch category experienced slower growth than in previous years and we saw retailers curtailing their purchasing to more tightly manage their inventory. In addition, extreme fluctuation in foreign currency exchange rates late in the year impacted our results. Nevertheless, we experienced improved sell-through at retail as a result of our design innovation and strength of our brands. As we look towards fiscal 2016 we expect currency headwinds to continue and that we will continue to see a slow growth retail environment." 
  • Board of Directors approved a 10% increase in the Company's quarterly cash dividend to $0.11.

7:04 am Montpelier Re to be acquired by Endurance Specialty Holdings (ENH) for $40.24 per share in cash and stock deal (MRH) : Endurance Specialty Holdings (ENH) will acquire Montpelier for consideration of 0.472 shares of Endurance and $9.89 in cash for each Montpelier common share, which represents $40.24 per Montpelier common share, or $1.83 billion in aggregate, based on Endurance's closing price on March 30, 2015. 

  • The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings per share and return on equity, excluding non-recurring integration and transaction costs.

7:03 am Vitae Pharmaceuticals beats by $0.01, misses on revs (VTAE) : Reports Q4 (Dec) loss of $0.40 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.41); revenues fell 98.9% year/year to 160K vs the $190K consensus. 

  • Vitae reaffirmed the following previously disclosed potential development milestones for its programs currently expected in 2015: 
  • VTP-34072 (11 HSD1): Top-line results from the Phase 2 proof of concept trial in type 2 diabetic patients in the second quarter of 2015. 
  • VTP-43742 (ROR?t): Initiation of a single dose Phase 1 safety and pharmacokinetic (:PK) clinical trial in healthy human volunteers in the second quarter of 2015, with completion in mid-year 2015. VTP-43742. 
  • Initiation and completion of a multiple ascending dose Phase 1 study in psoriatic patients in the second half of 2015.

7:02 am Rex Energy announces a new joint venture agreement in the Butler Operated Area, a re-determined borrowing base and amended financial covenants to its senior secured credit facility (REXX) : The co has entered into a joint venture agreement with an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC to jointly develop 32 specifically designated wells in the company's Butler Operated Area. ArcLight will participate and fund 35% of the well costs in the designated wells.

  • The joint venture agreement is expected to reduce the company's 2015 capital expenditure program by $60 million to $135 - $145 million, or a decrease of 30% at the midpoint of guidance. Total consideration for the transaction will equal $67 million, with $16.6 million received at closing
  • Rex Energy's bank group has unanimously approved an amendment to the company's senior secured credit facility. The approved amendment includes a new senior secured debt to EBITDAX covenant of 3.0x and permanently removes the total debt to trailing twelve months EBITDAX covenant. In addition, as part of the semi-annual borrowing base redetermination, the banks have unanimously approved a $350 million borrowing base.
  • Rex Energy is providing an update for its first quarter 2015 production, full year 2015 production and operating capital expenditure guidance, which takes into account the new joint venture agreement in the Butler Operated Area. The company expects first quarter 2015 production volumes to be at the midpoint of its previously announced guidance of 190 -- 196 MMcfe/d. Full year 2015 production volumes are expected to range from 185 MMcfe/d -- 195 MMcfe/d, representing a 23% increase at the midpoint of guidance as compared to 2014 production volumes. In addition, the company expects 2015 operating capital expenditures to be in the range of $135 -- $145 million, a 30% decrease at the midpoint of the updated 2015 operating capital expenditure guidance as compared to the midpoint of the previous operating capital expenditure program of $180 -- $220 million.

7:02 am RedHill Biopharma acquires Phase II Oral Small Molecule SK2 inhibitor From Apogee Biotech (RDHL) : Co and Apogee Biotechnology Corporation announced that they have entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement under which RedHill has acquired the rights to the Phase II drug candidate ABC294640 and additional intellectual property rights.

  • Under the terms of the agreement, RedHill has acquired the exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights to ABC294640 and additional intellectual property for all indications. RedHill will pay Apogee an upfront payment of $1.5 million, as well as an additional $4 million in potential milestone payments, and potential tiered royalties starting in the low double-digits. 
  • Co noted that a Phase Ib/II clinical study with ABC294640 for refractory/relapsed diffuse large B cell lymphoma (:DLBCL) is planned to commence in the second quarter of 2015 and will be funded by a $1.5 million grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute under the NIH SBIR/STTR program.

7:01 am GW Pharma initiates first Phase 3 pivotal trial for Epidiolex to treat Dravet Syndrome (GWPH) : The dose for part two has been determined as 20mg/kg by a Data Safety Monitoring Committee after assessment of the part one safety and pharmacokinetic data.The primary measure of this trial will be the percentage change from baseline in convulsive seizure frequency during the maintenance period of the study in patients taking Epidiolex versus placebo. Several additional efficacy and safety secondary outcome measures will be analysed. Part two will recruit an entirely new group of patients who did not participate in part one. Following their participation in the study, all patients are eligible to receive Epidiolex under a long term open label extension study

  • Co anticipates that top-line data from this trial will be available around the end of 2015 
  • Co anticipates commencing the second pivotal Phase 3 trial in Dravet syndrome soon after this first trial, which will run in parallel with this Phase 2/3 trial. 
  • Co also expects to commence two Phase 3 clinical trials in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome early in the second quarter of 2015. Additional pivotal trials are all expected to complete recruitment in 2015

7:01 am AES to offer $575 mln aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2025; also announces commencement of tender offers to purchase various senior notes up to a total of $500 mln aggregate principal amount (AES) :  

7:01 am Antares Pharma announces that Ferring Pharmaceuticals has received FDA approval of a name change enabling its newly acquired recombinant human growth hormone to be marketed in the U.S. as ZOMACTON for injection, and the needle-free delivery system to be marketed in the U.S. as ZOMA-Jet (ATRS) : Ferring also received approval from the FDA to market the 10 mg needle-free injector device which, along with certain consumables, is supplied by Antares to Ferring. Ferring purchased the U.S. rights to ZOMACTON, formerly TEV-TROPIN, and to ZOMA-Jet, formerly Tjet, in December 2014 from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA). Ferring developed and has marketed ZOMACTON outside of the U.S. since 1988 and in 47 countries globally.

7:00 am Atlantic Coast Federal announces that The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has terminated the Consent Order against the Bank, finding that the Bank has attained compliance with the Order (ACFC) : Simultaneously, the OCC has reclassified the Bank as a "well-capitalized" institution, removing the "troubled-condition" designation.

7:00 am Johnson Controls has reached a definitive agreement for the sale of its Global WorkPlace Solutions business to CBRE Group (CBG) for $1.475 bln (JCI) : The company announced its intentions to divest the GWS business in September 2014 as part of its strategy to invest in product businesses that are core to its multi-industrial portfolio and growth objectives.

  • The agreement includes a 10-year strategic relationship between the two companies. Johnson Controls will be the preferred provider of HVAC equipment, building automation systems and related services to the 5 billion sq. ft. portfolio of real estate and corporate facilities managed globally by CBRE and GWS. The agreement provides Johnson Controls with new channels for its offerings and when fully operational is expected to generate up to $500 million of annual incremental revenue for the Johnson Controls Building Efficiency business.  

6:58 am BioCryst Pharm awarded contract by BARDA for continued development of BCX4430 as potential treatment for diseases caused by RNA pathogens (BCRX) : This ASPR/BARDA contract includes a base contract of $12.1 million to support BCX4430 drug manufacturing, as well as $22.9 million in additional development options that can be exercised by the Government, bringing the potential value of the contract to $35.0 million. The scope of work under the base contract mainly focuses on drug manufacturing, including process improvement, scale up and manufacture of BCX4430 in the U.S over an 18 month period.

6:55 am Mosaic increases annual dividend 10% to $1.10/share from $1.00/share (MOS) :  

6:40 am Orthofix has entered into an option agreement that provides it with an 18-month option to acquire eNeura (OFIX) : In consideration for the option to acquire eNeura, Orthofix has agreed to provide a $15 million collateralized loan to support commercialization of SpringTMS in the United States and Europe. If the option to purchase eNeura is exercised, Orthofix will pay $65 million to consummate the merger and eNeura will repay to Orthofix the unpaid principal payable under the loan. In addition, Orthofix may make future milestone and royalty payments to eNeura.

6:35 am Science Applications beats by $0.04, beats on revs (SAIC) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $0.75 per share, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.71; revenues rose 1.2% year/year to $952 mln vs the $935.8 mln consensus. 

  • Net bookings for the fourth quarter were $0.7 billion, which reflects a book-to-bill ratio of ~0.7. Net bookings during fiscal year 2015 totaled $3.4 billion, representing a book-to-bill ratio of 0.9. 
  • Cash flows provided by operating activities for the fourth quarter was $96 million, which was a $29 million decline compared to the same period in the prior year.

6:35 am Teck Resources: Antofagasta (ANFGY) confirms that it is not in discussions with Teck Resources about a potential merger (TCK) : Also note that Teck Resources denied the rumors yesterday as well (See TCK 16:14)

6:31 am Cosi has hired Miguel Rossy-Donovan as CFO (COSI) : Rossy joins Cosi from Teach For America, where he has served as Chief Finance & Administration Officer since 2005. Rossy will replace Richard Bagge, Cosi's interim CFO.

6:31 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • JD.com (JD) announced it has launched a series of initiatives to help finance, develop and promote the creation of start-ups in China. The new JD Equity Crowdfunding platform, which builds upon JD.com's success in the area of Internet finance, is expected to be China's largest equity crowdfunding platform upon its launch today. 
  • Millicom International Cellular (MIICF) announced that its Tigo operation in Rwanda has launched the country's first mobile-based savings product -- Tigo Sugira -- with Tigo Cash. 
  • CME Group (CME) announced the first trades of its new Physically Delivered Cocoa futures contract (contract code CCP), which were launched yesterday on its European exchange, CME Europe. 
  • Toshiba Corporation's (TOSBF) Semiconductor & Storage Products Company today announced that it will expand its lineup of photorelays in the industry's smallest package, VSON4, with the addition of six products that offer low off-state capacitance, low on-state resistance and high-voltage. 
  • Progress (PRGS) announced the latest release of the intuitive, easy-to-use, Telerik Test Studio automated testing solution. As part of today's release, Telerik, a Progress company, has added IntelliMap, a revolutionary advancement in test automation. 

6:24 am Intercept Pharma announces that it is commencing an underwritten public offering of 1.2 mln shares of its common stock (ICPT) : The co intends to use the net proceeds of this offering to support the expansion of its clinical, regulatory, medical affairs and commercial infrastructure in the United States and Europe, the clinical development program for obeticholic acid in primary biliary cirrhosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, the expansion of OCA manufacturing activities, advancement of INT-767 and other preclinical pipeline programs, and the preparation for and potential initiation of the commercial launch of OCA in PBC in the United States and certain European countries in 2016.

6:18 am GOL Linhas Areas Inteligentes S.A. announces its financial projections for the year of 2015 (GOL) : GOL projects a stable domestic capacity for 2015. The projection reaffirms the strategy of rationalization of the Company's domestic supply. The Company estimates a positive operating result for the year of 2015, with an operating margin of between 2% and 5%.

6:15 am Petrobras Brasileiro announces that on March 28 production began at the Hadrian South Field, in Keathley Canyon area in water depths of ~2,332 meters (PBR) : The Hadrian South development consists of two subsea natural gas wells and a 12-kilometers long subsea tieback to the Lucius field floating production unit. The Lucius platform capacity reserved for Hadrian South is 8.5 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (50 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day).Petrobras owns a 23.33% interest in Hadrian South field. ExxonMobil (XOM), the operator, has a 46.67% interest and Eni (E) holds a 30% interest.

  • The co also announced it has received a correspondence from Mauro Gentile Rodrigues da Cunha, member of the Board of Directors elected by the minority shareholders, informing that he does not intend to run for a new term.

6:11 am Conns misses by $0.18, beats on revs; Q4 comps +1.3% (CONN) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $0.46 per share excluding $0.04 charge, $0.18 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.64; revenues rose 18.2% year/year to $426.7 mln vs the $421.52 mln consensus. Same store sales +1.3%.  Retail gross margin decreased 110 basis points to 39.5%.

  • FY16 Guidance: Change in same stores sales to range from flat to up low single digits; Retail gross margin between 40% and 41%; Opening of 15 to 18 new stores; and Closure of two stores. 
  • Q1 Guidance: Percent of bad debt charge-offs (net of recoveries) to average outstanding balance between 12.5% and 13.5%; and Interest income and fee yield between 17.0% and 17.5%
  • "In the fourth quarter, the retail segment expanded with new store growth and positive same store sales. Delinquency rates are improving; however, our provision for credit losses reflects our expectation that delinquency levels and charge-offs will remain elevated over the short-term. Underwriting standards progressively tightened over the course of fiscal 2015 and our ability to resolve less than 60-day delinquency has improved. We still have work to do to demonstrate sustained effectiveness in reducing delinquency in later stages..."The retail segment successfully opened two new stores and delivered positive same store sales for the quarter. February same store sales decreased 5.8%, impacted by adverse weather conditions and the prolonged port labor disruption."
  • "During fiscal year 2016, we will discontinue offering video game products, digital cameras and certain tablets. During fiscal year 2015, net sales and product margin from the sale of these products was ~$50.0 mln and $5.0 mln, respectively."

6:02 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Rio Alto Mining (RIOM) announced that the previously announced plan of arrangement involving Rio Alto, Tahoe Resources (TAHO) and 1860927 Alberta has been approved by the shareholders of Rio Alto and the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. 
  • Intralinks Holdings (IL) and Beijing Shenzhou Xiangyun Technology Co, the cloud business affiliate of Digital China, announced a strategic partnership. As part of the agreement, Beijing Shenzhou Xiangyun Technology now partners with Intralinks in China, providing sales, marketing, and support services for the full range of Intralinks' collaboration and file sharing solutions, trusted by the world's largest financial firms and other security-conscious industries. 
  • IBM (IBM) announced that it will invest $3 billion over the next four years to establish a new Internet of Things unit, and that it is building a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions. 
  • Tenneco (TEN) announced that it is leveraging its expertise in diesel particular filter technology to develop gasoline particulate filters for 2017 model year light vehicles. These filters are designed for gasoline direct injection engines to reduce particulate emissions in compliance with the Euro 6c emissions regulation, which takes effect on September 1, 2017. 
  • Kudelski Group and EchoStar Corporation (SATS) announced the signing of an agreement whereby EchoStar will become a shareholder in SmarDTV SA, the subsidiary of Kudelski SA that offers advanced set-top boxes and conditional access modules. As part of the transaction, EchoStar's operations in Steeton, U.K. and Madrid, Spain will be transferred to SmarDTV. 
  • IBM (IBM) and The Weather Company through WSI, its global B2B division, today announced a groundbreaking global strategic alliance to integrate real-time weather insights into business to improve operational performance and decision-making. As part of the alliance, The Weather Company, including WSI will shift its massive weather data services platform to the IBM Cloud and integrate its data with IBM analytics and cloud services. 
  • Ingram Micro (IM) announced the availability of its Cloud Marketplace in France, Netherlands, and the UK. 
  • Sonic Foundry (SOFO), the trusted global leader for video creation and management solutions, today unveiled Mediasite Join, a cloud-based videoconference capture solution that automatically transforms video calls and meetings into engaging, searchable on-demand video. 
  • EuroSite Power, a subsidiary of American DG Energy (ADGE) has signed an agreement worth approximately 1.51 ($2.41) million with Kingfisher Leisure Centre, Sudbury, UK. 

6:00 am Quintiles Transnational and Quest Diagnostics (DGX) announce a definitive agreement to form a global clinical trials laboratory services business; Quintiles will own 60% and Quest Diagnostics will own 40% of the JV (Q) : Beyond the immediate opportunity in laboratory services support for clinical trials, Quintiles and Quest Diagnostics expect to benefit from opportunities to collaborate in other areas. These include new ways to enhance patient recruiting and retention for clinical trials; speed the validation, development and commercialization of companion diagnostics; enhance support of real-world late phase studies; and develop new population-health analytics and tools.

  • The joint venture would have generated approximately $575 million in revenues in 2014. Upon closing of the transaction, Quintiles will own 60% and Quest Diagnostics will own 40% of the new joint venture.

6:00 am Harman announces intent to acquire Bang & Olufsen's automotive audio business for EUR 145 mln (HAR) : Terms of the agreement include a purchase price of 145 mln Euros for the Bang & Olufsen Automotive audio business, as well as license payments for an exclusive license to the Bang & Olufsen and B&O PLAY brands within the automotive industry. Co will assume all Bang & Olufsen Automotive customer programs, and all Bang & Olufsen Automotive development and production resources will be transferred

5:51 am European Markets : FTSE...6851.17...-40.30...-0.60%.  DAX...12044.17...-41.80...-0.40%.

5:51 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...19206.99...-204.40...-1.10%.  Hang Seng...24900.89...+45.80...+0.20%.

5:51 am S&P futures vs fair value: -11.30. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -17.00. :

5:49 am Sapiens Int'l has signed a definitive agreement to acquire IBEXI Solutions Private Limited, an India-based provider of insurance business and technology solutions; terms not disclosed (SPNS) : IBEXI's annual revenues for the period ended December 31, 2014, are approximately $4.3 million dollar. Without factoring in IBEXI's revenues generated from sales to Sapiens, IBEXI's 2014 full year revenues totaled $3.6 million dollars.

5:17 am Scientific Games signs contract to provide 5,000 Video Lottery Terminals in Greece under 10-Year License Agreement (SGMS) : Co announced that it has signed a contract to provide OPAP S.A. with 5,000 video lottery terminals pursuant to OPAP's 10-year license to operate a network of 16,500 VLTs across the country. Deployment is expected to begin in spring 2015 and conclude by the end of the year.

5:08 am Richemont signs agreement to merge The Net-A-Porter Group with YOOX Group (CFRHF) : Richemont announces that it has entered into a binding, conditional agreement to merge the operations of its subsidiary, The Net-A-Porter Group, with YOOX S.p.A. ("YOOX" or "YOOX Group") in an all-share transaction. YOOX Group is the global Internet retailing partner for leading fashion brands, which has established itself amongst the market leaders with the multi-brand online stores yoox.com, thecorner.com and shoescribe.com, as well as with numerous mono-brand online stores.

  • Richemont will receive, in aggregate, on a fully diluted basis 50 % of the share capital of the combined entity's listed parent company. 
  • In order to preserve the independence of YOOX Net-A-Porter Group, Richemont's voting rights will be limited to 25%. 

5:05 am Philips to sell majority interest in combined LED components and Automotive lighting business to consortium led by GO Scale Capital (PHG) : Co announced that it has signed an agreement with a consortium led by GO Scale Capital through which they will acquire an 80.1% interest in Philips' combined LED components and Automotive lighting business, with Philips retaining the remaining 19.9% interest.

  • The transaction values the business at an enterprise value of approximately $3.3 billion. Philips expects to receive cash proceeds, before tax and transaction related costs, of approximately $2.8 billion and a deferred contingent payment of up to $100 million. 
  • The transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2015, subject to closing conditions, including customary regulatory approvals.

4:49 am Citigroup announces agreement to sell Citi Cards Japan to Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (C) : Citi announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell 100% of the shares of Citi Cards Japan, Inc. (hereafter Citi Cards Japan), the exclusive issuer of Diners Club cards in Japan, to Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited (hereafter Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank). Approximately 743,000 customer accounts of Citi Cards Japan (as of February 28, 2015) will be included in the sale. The financial terms of the transaction are not material to Citi. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2015, subject to customary closing conditions. 

4:02 am Kofax announces cancellation of London Listing (KFX) : Co announces that following shareholder approval at a special general meeting held on February 9, 2015, at 8.00 a.m. (UK time) today the UK Listing Authority cancelled the listing of the Company's shares  on the premium segment of the official list maintained by the UK Financial Conduct Authority and the London Stock Exchange cancelled the trading of the Shares on London Stock Exchange plc's main market for listed securities. The Shares will continue to trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. 

3:09 am Gold Standard Ventures Phase 2 final drill holes intersect shallow oxide gold at Northwest Pinion and extends the gold zone 245m South at South Pinion (GSV) : Co announced assay results of the final eleven reverse-circulation holes from the western portion of the Pinion Phase 2 drilling program at its 100%-owned Railroad-Pinion Project on Nevada's Carlin Trend. All eleven holes returned intercepts with gold values above the 0.14 grams per tonne cut-off grade established by APEX Geoscience Ltd. of Edmonton, Canada in its NI 43-101 resource estimate announced on September 10, 2014, with intercepts up to 51.8 meters of 0.50 g Au/t in hole PIN14-52. 

2:26 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Acxiom (ACXM) announced the company's firm opposition to the Arkansas House Bill 1228 that appears to be aimed at allowing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and other minorities on the basis of religious beliefs.
  • Live Nation Australasia, a Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) company, announced an official partnership with Europcar Australia and New Zealand as the exclusive car rental partner across Australia and New Zealand. 
  • Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (RBA) announced that Steve Simpson, Chief Sales Officer -- Global Key Accounts, is resigning from the business to pursue other opportunities.
  • NetSuite (N) announced that it has launched new functionality within its tax reporting SuiteApps to help businesses in Malaysia comply with the government's newly introduced Goods and Services Tax, coming into effect April 1st of this year. 

1:58 am GOL Linhas Areas Inteligentes S.A. reports FY14 results (GOL) : Reports FY14 Operating income (:EBIT) of R$505 million; Net revenue reached R$10 billion in the year, 12.4% more than in 2013, being R$9.0 billion in passenger revenue and R$1 billion in ancillary revenues, increasing its share of total revenue from 9.3%, in 2013, to 10.1%.

  • International revenue amounted to R$1.2 billion, equivalent to 12% of the total. In 4Q14, net revenue totaled R$2.7 billion, in line with 4Q13
  • The consolidated load factor increased by 7 percentage points in the year, reaching 76.9%, with the domestic up by 7 percentage points to 77.8%, and international load factors up by 8.3 percentage points to 71%. 
  • In 4Q14, the consolidated load factor was 78.7%, 3.9 percentage points higher than 4Q13.

1:52 am Actavis: Amneal signs deal to acquire the generic business of Actavis Australia (ACT) : Amneal Pharmaceuticals and Actavis Australia, a subsidiary of Actavis, announced they have signed a binding letter of intent which provides that Amneal intends to acquire substantially all of Actavis' in-country generic pharmaceuticals business for an agreed price, subject to completion of confirmatory due diligence and definitive agreements. 

  • Financial terms of the agreement are not available. 
  • Actavis will continue to supply the Australian market with these generic medicines on the PBS and fulfill supply commitments for all hospital tenders until this transition is complete. 

1:17 am Evolution Petroleum provides operations update (EPM) : Co provided an update on operations and litigation. 

Operations

  • As previously projected, the operator of the Delhi Field has decreased CO2 purchases to a February rate of approximately 101 million cubic feet per day from the temporary surge to approximately 125 MMCFD in the latter months of calendar 2014. 
  • The surge in CO2 purchases was intended to partially restore reservoir pressure to optimize oil recovery. 
  • Since the purchase of CO2 is the largest operating cost for the field, the reduction in the recurring level of purchases should significantly reduce operating expense going forward until the natural gas liquids plant is brought on line and the enhanced oil recovery project is expanded further into the eastern half of the field.

12:45 am BankFinancial authorizes share repurchase of up to 1,055,098 shares of common stock, represents ~5% of the Company's outstanding shares of common stock (BFIN) :  

12:42 am Wintrust Fin announces plans to acquire North Bank (WTFC) : Wintrust Financial announced the signing of a definitive agreement by its subsidiary Wintrust Bank to acquire North Bank, headquartered in downtown Chicago, Illinois. The aggregate purchase price will be ~$17 million, to be paid in cash in exchange for all outstanding shares of North Bank's common stock.

As of December 31, 2014, North Bank had ~$108 million in assets, ~$55 million in loans and ~$96 million in deposits.

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