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Hot stocks today, April 21: Fresh off a holiday-shortened week that left all three major benchmarks up 2%, stocks headed higher Monday, kicking off a busy week.
Some 150 S&P 500 companies report earnings this week. The earnings calendar gets especially crowded Tuesday and Wednesday, when a number of household names and global giants post Q1 results.
Trading volume was light Monday, with some traders taking an extended holiday and dozens of markets closed abroad. But there was no shortage of market-moving news.
Following are 12 of Monday's hot stocks to watch.
Hot Stocks Today
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) rose 12% to $4.20 intraday on better than expected earnings and rosy guidance. The maker of processors for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One took in revenue of $1.4 billion in Q1, topping forecasts of $1.34 billion. AMD expects revenue to rise to between $1.41 and $1.48 billion in Q2. Investment firms Bernstein and FBR lifted their price targets on the stock to $3 and $6 respectively.
AstraZenca Plc (NYSE ADR: AZN) shares surged some 6% to $67.70 in morning trading on heavy volume. Sending shares higher were unconfirmed reports that Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) approached the British drug giant with a $101 billion takeover offer. While AZN is said to have rebuffed Pfizer's overtures, PFE is likely to continue courting AZN. Pfizer is particularly interested in AZN's immunotherapies (which strengthen the body's ability to fight cancer), according to Reuters. Shares of PFE were up 1.5% midday.
Astrom Biosciences Inc. (Nasdaq: ASTM) shares soared 35% to $4.95 in morning trading after announcing an agreement to acquire Sanofi SA's (NYSE ADR: SNY) Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine unit (CTRM) for $6.5 million. With the CTRM purchase, ASTM gets global manufacturing rights to three marketed autologous cell therapy (stem cell) products. ASTM will also purchase global manufacturing and production centers located in the United States and Denmark. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company called the acquisition "transformative" and said it positions ASTM as a "fully integrated global regenerative medicine company."
The next stock is another one soaring more than 30% higher on a new deal...
Cbeyond Inc. (Nasdaq: CBEY) shares climbed 39.3% to $9.86 on news it has agreed to be acquired by Birch Communications in an all-cash deal valued around $323 million. Privately held Birch said in a statement the combination creates a "nationwide communications cloud and managed services provider with approximately $700 million in annual revenue and approximately 200,000 business customers located in all 50 states." CBEY shareholders will receive $9.97 to $10 a share.
Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) shares jumped more than 4%, hitting a 52-week high of $63.88, on strong Q1 earnings. The Houston-based company reported net income of $622 million, or $0.73 per share, on revenue of $7.35 billion. Analysts were looking for earnings per share of $0.72 on revenue of $7.26. In the same quarter a year ago, HAL reported a net loss of $18 million, or $0.02 per share, on revenue of $6.97 billion. That included a charge for litigation expenses related to 2010's Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) shares climbed nearly 2% to $78.35 in morning trading. Shares bounced after HD made the cover of Barron's weekend edition. Barron's said shares of the home improvement chain could rise 25% as spring revives the housing market.
Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) shares rose nearly 1% to $56.92 after receiving Food and Drug Administration approval for Ragwitek. An oral tablet, Ragwitek is an immunotherapy to treat short ragweed pollen-induced allergic rhinitis, with or without conjunctivitis, in adults 18 to 65 years of age. The market for Ragwitek could be huge - ragweed is the second most common pollen allergy in the United States.
Micron Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) shares moved up some 5% to $25.20 intraday on the heels of a bullish upgrade from Drexel Hamilton. Drexel analyst Richard Whittington upped his price target on Micron to $50 from $30. Citing favorable supply/demand balance, Whittington sees DRAM prices rising this year and next and expects MU's DRAM margin to ultimately hit 50%. MU had a February gross margin (DRAM and NAND flash sales) of 34%.
Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM) shares soared more than 7% to $25.46 on news that merger talks between NEM and Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) recently took place. Talks, however, have stalled because of disagreements over a spin-off of assets. But, hopes abound that talks will resume, possibly as early as Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Barrick was set to offer NEM shareholders a 13% premium over NEM's average trading price over the last 20 days. This marks the third time ABX has attempted to acquire NEM, trying and failing in 2008 and 2010.
Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) shares popped 3% to $8.37 intraday after the fuel cell maker said it has agreed to form a joint venture with South Korea's Hyundai Hysco Co. Ltd, a steel supplier to Hyundai Motors, to develop and sell hydrogen fuel cells in Asia. Some four months into 2014, it's already been quite a year for PLUG, and one heck of a rollercoaster ride for shareholders. In mid-March, PLUG shares were up a blistering 565.15% year to date, peaking at $10.36. The stock has settled back some, but the Latham, N.Y. company continues to make news and attract traders.
Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: SRPT) shares surged nearly 80% in pre-market trading and opened up 60% at $40. Sending shares soaring was news the developer of innovative RNA-based therapeutics plans to submit a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2014 for the approval of its lead drug candidate, eteplirsen, for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. If approved, the drug could generate annual sales of $500 million. "Shares of orphan drug maker Sarepta could soar if the FDA gives an early go-ahead to its drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy," Barron's wrote.
Weibo Corp. (Nasdaq ADR: WB) shares rose more than 15% to $24.17 intraday Monday, as momentum continued from a slow but successful IPO on Thursday. China's equivalent of Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR), Weibo raised $286 million after pricing 16.8 million at $17 a share. That was the low end of the expected $17 to $19 range, and 16% fewer shares than expected. The stock opened at $16.27 in its first day trading as a public company, but quickly jumped some 25% to a high of $24.48 on volume of 31 million shares.
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