MARKET PULSE-Microsoft, Furiex, Plug Power, Zynga, Life Partners

Tue Feb 4, 2014 3:46pm EST

(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, underpinned by a slew of sturdy corporate results, as the market regained its footing following its largest selloff in months a day earlier. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.51 percent at 15,451.86, the S&P 500 was up 0.81 percent at 1,756.03 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.88 percent at 4,032.

** MICROSOFT CORP, $36.47, -0.03 pct

The world's largest software maker named 22-year company veteran Satya Nadella as its next chief executive officer on Tuesday, ending a protracted search for a new leader after Steve Ballmer announced his intention to retire in August. Nadella, who led the creation of Microsoft's Internet-based, or "cloud," computing services, is only the third CEO in Microsoft's 39-year history, following co-founder Bill Gates and Ballmer.

** FURIEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $104.8, +127.97 pct

Shares of Furiex more than doubled in value after the company said its experimental drug significantly alleviated diarrhea and abdominal pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome in two large late-stage trials.

** MICHAEL KORS HOLDINGS LTD, $90.31, +17.79 pct

The retailer raised its profit forecast for the year after its trendy handbags and watches proved a hit during the holiday shopping season. Michael Kors, named after its fashion-designer founder, shunned the discounts offered by many of its competitors to record a better-than-expected 77 percent jump in net income for the quarter just ended.

** CISCO SYSTEMS INC, $21.77, +1.02 pct

** GOOGLE INC, $1,141.25, +0.69 pct

The two companies entered into a patent cross-licensing agreement, Google's second such deal in as many months. The cross-licensing agreement is an effective way to help prevent unnecessary patent lawsuits, the companies said in a statement.

** PLUG POWER INC, $3.1699, +11.62 pct

The fuel cell maker could turn profitable by the end of the year driven by expansion into Asia, analysts at Cowen and Co said. They also expect Plug Power to cut costs through dual sourcing and bulk purchases.

** LIFE PARTNERS HOLDINGS INC, $2.97, +16.02

A federal jury found that the company did not commit fraud and its Chief Executive Brian Pardo and other officers did not engage in insider trading as claimed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC had claimed that Life Partners intentionally underestimated the life expectancies of the insureds in life settlements it facilitated.

** YUM BRANDS INC, $72.1, +8.98 pct

The KFC parent reaffirmed on Monday its 2014 profit forecast amid worries about a resurgent bird flu in China, its top market for sales. Yum forecast earnings per share growth of at least 20 percent for 2014.

** J.C. PENNEY CO INC, $5.08, -10.56 pct

The company reported a modest rise in quarterly comparable sales but gave no details on its gross profit margin, leading Wall Street analysts to conclude the department store operator had to resort to bigger discounts during the holiday season.

** GAP INC, $37.89, +1.72 pct

UBS raised its rating on the teen apparel retailer's stock to "buy" from "neutral," citing increased square footage growth at its stores, strong e-commerce sales and good exposure to athletic apparel.

"We look for GPS to deliver 15 percent plus earnings per share growth over the next 3 years and potentially over $5 of EPS in 2017," analyst Roxanne Meyer wrote in a note, raising her price target on the stock to $50 from $41.

** XYLEM INC, $36.29, +10.64 pct

The provider of water and wastewater applications equipment reported fourth-quarter results that beat analysts' average estimate and forecast FY2014 earnings to be $1.85 to $2.00 per share on revenue of $4 billion. Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $1.91 per share on revenue of $3.94 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company also increased its quarterly dividend by 10 percent.

** UBS AG, $20.36, +5.93 pct

The Swiss bank raised its dividend and increased bonuses for bankers by nearly a third after it returned to a fourth-quarter profit, reaping the benefits of a revamp of its investment banking business.

** TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE SOFTWARE, $17.07, -9.68 pct

The video game publisher raised its full-year outlook again after smash hits "Grand Theft Auto V" and "NBA 2K14" helped it post a better-than-expected third-quarter revenue. However, the company gave a weaker-than-expected March quarter forecast.

Wedbush and Credit Suisse cut their ratings on the stock.

** AOL INC, $49.62, +5.87 pct

Asset management company Iridian Asset Management disclosed a 9.3 percent stake in the media company.

** PFIZER INC, $31.39, +2.58 pct

Jefferies analysts raised their rating on the company's stock to "buy" from "hold," a day after the company said its breast cancer drug succeeded in a mid-stage study.

The analysts said the data from the study could be sufficient for Pfizer to file for approval and launch the drug, palbociclib, by the end of the year. They said that corporate reorganization would be the ultimate driver of Pfizer's share price in the near- to mid-term.

** DICE HOLDINGS INC, $7.15, +6.88 pct

The operator of career websites reported better-than-expected revenue for the fourth quarter, mainly due to growth in its finance segment.

Dice operates eFinancialCareers.com, aimed at recruiting workers in the financial sector.

** PEREGRINE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP, $5.55, -16.54 pct

At least four brokerages cut their price targets on the radio frequency chipmaker's stock after the company forecast first-quarter revenue below analysts' expectations and reported lower-than-expected revenue for the fourth quarter.

** BROWN & BROWN INC, $28.34, -7.63 pct

The insurance broker reported weaker-than-expected results for the fourth quarter as its investment income fell and expenses rose due to higher employee compensation and benefits.

** RGS ENERGY, $3.855, +7.38 pct

The solar power company said it had formed a joint venture with Altus Power America Management, a company that invests in solar power projects, to develop and finance up to $150 million of commercial solar projects.

** WADDELL & REED FINANCIAL INC, $64.97, +5.56 pct

The asset manager reported better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter, helped by a 27 percent rise in investment management fees.

** ADVENT SOFTWARE INC, $29.54, -3.50 pct

Brokerage Sandler O'Neill cut its price target on the accounting software maker's stock after the company forecast on Monday first-quarter revenue largely below the average analyst estimate.

** ENZO BIOCHEM, $3.24, +17.82 pct

Craig-Hallum has initiated coverage on the diagnostics company's stock with a "buy" rating and a price target of $5.50, according to Streetinsider.com.

** ITAU UNIBANCO HOLDING SA, $12.98, +7.81 pct

** BANCO BRADESCO SA, $10.73, +4.98 pct

** BANCO SANTANDER BRASIL SA, $4.7, +4.68 pct

Rising borrowing costs, declining defaults and an unexpected jump in loan disbursements drove record profit for Itau Unibanco in the fourth quarter, even after expenses at Brazil's largest private-sector bank exceeded expectations.

Shares in smaller rivals, including Banco Bradesco and Banco Santander, also got a lift from Itau's results.

** REDHILL BIOPHARMA LTD, $12.87, -3.96 pct

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected a migraine drug made by Israel's RedHill Biopharma and Canada's IntelGenx Corp.

** W.R. GRACE & CO, $95.98, +4.01 pct

The specialty chemicals maker said on Monday that it emerged from bankruptcy after more than 12 years.

Grace filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2001, making it one of the longest bankruptcies in U.S. history, after an asbestos leak at one of its mines led to a slew of lawsuits.

Also, the company's board authorized on Tuesday a share buyback program of up to $500 million, expected to be completed over the next 12-24 months.

** BLACKROCK INC, $289.18, +0.97 pct

The company's iShares, the largest U.S. provider of exchange-traded funds, is launching a new set of currency-hedged ETFs on Tuesday as it looks to target investors interested in international equity exposure but concerned about potential losses from a rising U.S. dollar.

** INTEGRATED DEVICE TECHNOLOGY INC, $10.435, +13.18 pct

The chip-component maker reported a better-than-expected profit on Monday and said it was pursuing a sale of its high speed data converter business.

Wedbush raised its price target on the company's stock to $10 from $9.

** ENTEGRIS INC, $11.475, +11.62 pct

** ATMI INC, $33.78, +25.44 pct

Entegris said it would buy ATMI for $1.15 billion, bringing together two key suppliers of high-purity materials and packaging systems used in the manufacture of semiconductors. Entegris's offer of $34 per share represents a premium of 26 percent to ATMI's closing price of $26.93 on the Nasdaq on Monday.

** LIONBRIDGE TECHNOLOGIES INC, $6.86, +29.43 pct

The translation software maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results and said it secured multi-year contracts with recurring revenue.

** ZYNGA INC, $4.58, +2.00 pct

UBS raised its rating on the game maker's stock to "buy" from "neutral," saying Zynga's core operations had begun to stabilize under the new management team and that its $527 million acquisition of mobile game developer NaturalMotion would result in more scale and innovation at Zynga.

** ASBURY AUTOMOTIVE GROUP INC, $49.01, +7.90 pct

The U.S. auto dealer posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit as an improving economy and easier availability of loans encouraged more Americans to buy cars.

** ARM HOLDINGS, $43.8, -4.39 pct

The British chip designer said a slowdown in demand for Apple and Samsung smartphones was behind a smaller-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter royalty revenues.

** FIDELITY NATIONAL INFORMATION SERVICES, $50.93, +4.22 pct

The banking and payments technology provider said its board had authorized a new share repurchase program of up to $2 billion, effective through Dec. 31, 2017.

The new program replaces the previous $1 billion program under which about $174 million is outstanding.

The company also reported a 13 percent rise in its fourth-quarter profit.

** DISH NETWORK CORP, $56.58, +3.63 pct

An investment vehicle owned by the company's Chairman Charles Ergen is joining an existing lender group to extend $33 million in financing to bankrupt wireless company LightSquared, court filings show.

** CEPHEID, $49.28, -1.20 pct

The medical device maker said it planned to offer $250 million of convertible senior notes due 2021.

The interest rate, conversion rate, offering price and other terms will be determined through talks between Cepheid and the initial purchasers, the company said.

** WESTELL TECHNOLOGIES INC, $3.83, +4.93 pct

The company, which provides equipment for telecom service providers, reported a better-than-expected profit for the third quarter on Monday, helped by strong demand for its wireless products. (Compiled by Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

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