* IBM, Coach fall in premarket after earnings
* 26 companies scheduled to report on Wednesday
* El-Erian to step down from PIMCO
* Futures: Dow off 18 pts, S&P up 0.5 pt, Nasdaq up 6.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Jan 22 U.S. stocks were set for a flat
open on Wednesday, as corporate earnings provide investors with
little reason to buy in a stock market that has been unable to
find its footing after a strong rally last year.
* IBM shares lost 3.9 percent to $181.10 before the
opening bell. The world's biggest technology services company
missed revenue expectations for a fourth straight quarter amid
weakening demand, particularly in growth markets like China.
* Fellow Dow component United Technologies Corp shed
0.04 percent to $114.94 in premarket trading after the world's
largest maker of elevators and air conditioners reported higher
fourth-quarter profit that topped Wall Street estimates,
although revenue fell shy of expectations.
* Coach Inc tumbled 7.6 percent to $48.55 in
premarket trading after it said sales in North America fell
further in the final quarter of 2013, as it lost share in the
handbag business to fast-growing rivals such as Michael Kors
Holdings Ltd and Kate Spade.
* After a 29.6 percent jump in the S&P 500 in 2013, the S&P
has edged down 0.2 percent so far in 2014 as investors look to
corporate profits for evidence of growth as the Federal Reserve
has begun to wind down its market-friendly economic stimulus.
* About eight companies have issued negative outlooks for
every positive one, which would mark the lowest ratio on record
should it continue.
* According to Thomson Reuters data, earnings for the fourth
quarter are expected to grow 7 percent over the prior year. Of
the 61 companies in the benchmark S&P index that have reported
so far, about 56 percent topped analyst expectations, below the
long-term average of 63 percent. About 71 percent have topped
revenue forecasts, above the long-term average of 61 percent.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures added 0.5 point and were
slightly above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by
taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to
expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures
lost 18 points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 6.75
* Advanced Micro Devices Inc slumped 9.4 percent to
$3.78 in premarket after the chipmaker forecast a
steeper-than-expected fall in current quarter revenue, saying
sales of gaming consoles were not growing fast enough to offset
slowing PC sales.
* After the closing bell, earnings are expected from eBay
Inc, Netflix Inc, Varian Medical Systems Inc
and F5 Networks Inc. A total of 26 S&P 500
companies are scheduled to report earnings on Wednesday.
* Merger and acquisition activity continued at a brisk pace,
as companies flush with cash look for ways to create growth.
Cloud software maker VMWare Inc said it would buy
privately held mobile security company AirWatch in a deal valued
at about $1.54 billion to tap into rising demand for software
security, sending its shares up 3 percent in premarket trading.
* Mohamed El-Erian, heir apparent to Pimco co-founder Bill
Gross, will step down as chief executive and co-chief investment
officer, raising questions about the future course of Pacific
Investment Management Co, the world's largest bond fund manager.