* Wal-Mart up after unveiling $20 bln share buyback plan
* Honeywell up 1 pct after detailing spin off plans
* Lilly drops after cancer drug fails in late-stage study
* Futures up: Dow 40 pts, S&P 4 pts, Nasdaq 12 pts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Sruthi Shankar
Oct 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open higher on Tuesday, with investors turning their focus to the third-quarter earnings season to see if corporate profits justify lofty valuations.
BlackRock and Delta Air Lines will kick off the earnings season on Wednesday. The focus will, however, be on big banks, with JPMorgan and Citigroup scheduled to report on Thursday.
Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to have increased 4.8 percent last quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, down from the double-digit growth recorded in the first two quarters of this year.
“I think it will be a good earnings season,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. “It will be focused on individual stocks as opposed to earnings season as a whole.”
At 8:32 a.m. ET (1232 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 40 points, or 0.18 percent, with 17,308 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.16 percent, with 103,784 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 12 points, or 0.2 percent, on volume of 17,793 contracts.
Strong earnings, hopes of tax cuts and looser regulations have helped stocks rally this year. The S&P 500 managed to scale new highs all of last week, except Friday when weak job numbers stalled its progress.
Wall Street also hit record levels on Monday, before retreating as gains in technology stocks failed to offset a drop in General Electric and a slide in healthcare stocks.
Wal-Mart rose 1.4 percent after the retail giant unveiled a $20 billion share buyback plan and forecast U.S. online sales would rise by about 40 percent in next fiscal year.
Pfizer increased nearly 1 percent after the company said it was reviewing options for its consumer healthcare business, including a full or partial separation of the unit.
Eli Lilly dipped 3.22 percent after its drug to treat non-small cell lung cancer failed in a late-stage study.
Honeywell rose nearly 1 percent after the manufacturer said it would spin off its home and ADI global distribution business as well as its transportation systems business into two publicly-traded companies.
Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari and his Dallas counterpart, Robert Kaplan, are due to make speeches, a day before the Fed releases the minutes of its September meeting, when it decided to leave interest rates unchanged. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)