Ultimate Market Recap: Apple’s Delicious Dividend, Cardiome Sinks 52%

6 Buzzing Movers: Apple Announces Dividend and Buyback Plan, UPS Receives Upgrade

Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) jumped more than 2 percent in early trading.  The tech giant finally announced a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share and a $10 billion share repurchase program.  Shares were halted for the actual release of the announcement.

Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) shares edged .62 percent higher before the opening bell.  The company said it completed its $10 billion share repurchase program that it authorized in November 2007.  The retailer purchased a total of 193.5 million shares.

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United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPS) shares gained 1.2 percent in morning trading.  The company received an upgrade to overweight from neutral at J.P. Morgan (NYSE:JPM).  Analysts expect an upside to UPS after it purchased TNT Express NV for $6.77 billion.  “We believe the company’s agreement to buy TNTE is a significant positive and we anticipate favorable trends in UPS’s core domestic package business,” analysts said.

Shares of Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ:GRPN) edged lower early Monday.  The internet company launched a new scheduling tool that allows small business customers to book appointments more easily.  The new service will be free of charge to businesses that use Groupon.

Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) dropped almost 5 percent after being downgraded to underperform from market perform at Bernstein.  The firm believes the next generation LTE iPhone will be badly disadvantaged on Sprint’s network.

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Wall Street Watch: Greece’s Optimistic Rhetoric, Apple’s Shiny Dividend

Greece Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is optimistic about his country. In an interview with The Financial Times, he said Greece is “more than halfway along the path to economic recovery.” He added that aside from the daily anti-austerity protests, a “large, silent majority” of Greeks want to remain in the euro zone and will do what they have to make it work.

On Saturday, Brazilian prosecutors blocked 17 Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Transocean (NYSE:RIG) executives from leaving the country as criminal charges are expected to be filed against them by midweek. This comes in connection to the offshore oil spill in November. In addition, industry regulator ANP gave the thumbs up to a Chevron request for suspended output at the 61,500 bpd Frade field following a leak.

United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPS) increased its offer by 5.6 percent to EUR 5.16 billion to acquire TNT Express NV (TNTE). This is the company’s biggest deal in its history and it will now position it to compete with Deutsche Post DHL, according to Bloomberg.

UPS will now pay EUR 9.50 per share in cash for TNT Express, raising its previous bid of EUR 9 and a 54 percent increase from Feb. 16 when the two companies merger talks become public, as noted in a joint statement. UPS is expected to receive regulatory approval by the end of the third quarter.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will issue a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share starting in July. The company will also boost the stock with share buybacks beginning in September. The first scheduled buybacks will take place over three years.

Oncothyreon, Vermillion, Dick’s Sporting Goods Among Hot Stocks for Mar 6th

Oncothyreon Inc. (NASDAQ:ONTY): Merck KGaA (MKGAY) said that interim analysis confirms that the Stimuvax trial is to continue to final analysis with results expected in 2013. Stimuvax is being developed by Merck KGaA under a license agreement with Oncothyreon (NASDAQ:ONTY). Shares of Oncothyreon dropped following Merck KGaA’s update. Shares of Oncothyreon Inc. are trading 35.91% lower today.

Vermillion, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRML): Vermillion reported that the American Medical Association Current Procedural Terminology Panel has voted to approve an application for a Category 1 CPT code for its OVA1 test, which is designed to help differentiate benign versus malignant ovarian masses. The AMA recently disclosed the new code on its website, which will become effective January 1, 2013. Shares of Vermillion, Inc. are trading 36.84% higher today.

Dicks Sporting Goods Inc (NYSE:DKS): Reports Q4 revenue $1.61B, consensus $1.61B. Reports Q4 consolidated SSS up 0.1%. The consolidated same store sales increase was in line with the Company’s revised expectations provided on January 12, 2012 and consisted of a 2.5% decrease at Dick’s Sporting Goods stores, a 9.0% increase at Golf Galaxy and a 52.0% increase in the Company’s eCommerce business. Shares of Dicks Sporting Goods Inc are trading 2.68% higher today.

Harvest Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE:HNR): Harvest Natural Resources provided an operational update for its 32% owned Venezuelan affiliate, Petrodelta as well as Harvest’s international exploration activity, as well as reserves and corporate and financial reporting matters in Venezuela, Gabon, Indonesia, Oman and U.S.. Company also provided corporate and financial reporting. Company added: “Petrodelta continued its growth trajectory increasing production 33% year on year in spite of investment delays and facility constraints. As facility expansion advances, we expect to see that level of growth continue to increase. In 2011, we also advanced our exploration programs drilling wells in Gabon, Indonesia and Oman. These efforts resulted in an oil discovery in Gabon, which along with two previous discoveries will anchor our future development efforts on the block. In Indonesia, our exploratory efforts on our Budong Budong block proved the working hydrocarbon systems in both the Lariang and Karama sub-basins, providing a substantial inventory of future prospectivity. In Oman, while both wells in our Block 64 failed to discover gas, the operational performance of the team was outstanding and both wells were drilled well ahead of the curve and under budget.” Shares of Harvest Natural Resources, Inc. are trading 30.67% higher today.

UPS, Ampio Pharma, Cardiome Pharma, AboveNet Sizzling Stocks March 19th

United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS): United Parcel Service, or UPS, and TNT Express N.V. have reached agreement on a recommended all-cash offer of EUR9.50 per ordinary share for TNT Express, representing a premium of 53.7% to the unaffected share price of TNT Express of EUR6.18 on Feb.16, the day before TNT Express and UPS announced their on-going discussions. The transaction values TNT Express at approximately EUR5.16B, or $6.77B. The executive and supervisory boards of TNT Express unanimously intend to support and recommend the offer. The transaction will create a global leader in the logistics industry with more than EUR45B, or $60B in annual revenues and an enhanced, integrated global network. The integration of TNT Express’ leading intra-Europe road freight network will expand UPS’s logistics solutions in Europe. UPS estimates that the transaction will deliver an annual run rate of approximately EUR400-EUR550M, or $525M-$725M of pre-tax cost synergies achieved by the end of year four after closing. The transaction is expected to be EPS accretive in year one. Upon completion of the integration, UPS expects to generate returns in line with its existing target ROIC. Shares of United Parcel Service, Inc. are trading 2.37% higher today.

Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMPE): Ampio announced that it completed the planned interim review of the first 50% of patients enrolled in the Optina trial for diabetic macular edema. According to Dr. Vaughan Clift, Chief Regulatory Officer of Ampio, “A preliminary assessment, of the primary end point indicates a beneficial and consistent effect with the ultra-low dose of Optina at 4 and 12 weeks of treatment and no apparent benefit at the high dose. These preliminary results are in keeping with the in-vitro data, which demonstrated a biphasic effect of the drug.” The company will request a meeting with FDA in order to initiate U.S. registration studies Shares of Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are trading 39.18% higher today.

CARDIOME PHARMA CORP (NASDAQ:CRME): Cardiome Pharma announced that Merck, known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, has communicated to Cardiome their decision to discontinue further development of the oral formulation of vernakalant. The decision was based on Merck’s assessment of the regulatory environment and projected development timeline. Vernakalant oral was being evaluated as maintenance therapy for the long term prevention of atrial fibrillation recurrence. Merck will continue to support the intravenous formulation of vernakalant, which is marketed in the European Union and Latin America under the trade name BRINAVESSTM. Currently, BRINAVESSTM is approved for the rapid conversion of recent onset atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm in adults in 37 countries. Merck has plans to expand the commercialization of the product throughout this year into new markets, and anticipates launching the product in approximately 30 additional countries in 2012. In response to the discontinuation of the vernakalant oral program, Cardiome will reduce its annual operating cash burn going forward to a target of approximately $11M before interest expense, roughly half of the current cash burn. The company ended 2011 with over $53M of cash and cash equivalents and received an additional $25M from the available line of credit from Merck in January 2012. Cardiome expects to release its 2011 year-end financial results on March 28th, 2012 which will allow time to make the necessary changes to its annual filings following this news. Shares of CARDIOME PHARMA CORP are trading 52.62% lower today.

AboveNet, Inc. (NYSE:ABVT): Zayo Group, LLC and AboveNet announced that their boards of directors have approved a definitive agreement under which Zayo will acquire AboveNet for approximately $2.2B. Under the terms of the agreement, each share of AboveNet common stock issued and outstanding immediately prior to the transaction will be entitled to receive $84 per share in cash, representing a 13% premium over AboveNet’s closing price on March 16 and a 21% premium over the average closing stock price for the past 60 days. As part of the transaction, GTCR, a leading Chicago-based private equity firm, will make an equity investment in Zayo. This transaction is not subject to any financing conditions. The definitive agreement contains a 30-day “go-shop” provision, whereby AboveNet has the right to solicit and enter into discussions with respect to alternative acquisition proposals until April 17, subject to extension to May 2 under certain circumstances. The transaction, subject to customary approvals, is expected to close in mid 2012. Shares of AboveNet, Inc. are trading 13.39% higher today.

Markets Rally on Good News for Apple Shareholders

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.05%, S&P +0.40%, Nasdaq +0.75%, Oil +0.84%, Gold +0.42%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $107.96 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) rising slightly to $1,662.70 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 0.94% to settle at $32.91.

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Today’s markets were up because:

1) Banks. Following reports that the Federal Reserve made some minor corrections to its stress test results, bank shares gained in late trading, with Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) leading the rally, climbing 1.3 and 2.7 percent, respectively. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) shares topped $10 for the first time since August today before turning lower.
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2) Housing. The Treasury Department announced today that it made taxpayers $25 billion in profit by getting rid of a bunch of mortgage-backed securities it first purchased to stem the financial crisis in 2008-2009. Housing will remain in focus this week with reports due on new home sales, housing, starts, and existing-home sales.
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3) Apple. After announcing it would begin paying quarterly dividends to shareholders for the first time since 1995, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) jumped in early trading, and continued to climb throughout the day, closing the day above the $600 mark and helping the tech-heavy Nasdaq climb 0.9 percent. Apple also said it would buy back $10 billion of its own shares over the next three years.
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BONUS: Greek Investors Finally Get Good News

6 Stocks Hitting Radars: Apple Sells 3M iPads, Amazon Spends $775M Cash and Disney Drops 1%

After closing above $600 per share for the first time ever, shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) edged .56 percent higher in late trading.  The tech giant announced it sold 3 million new iPad units over the weekend.  Apple also called it the “strongest iPad launch yet.”

Shares of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) jumped almost 2 percent after the closing bell.  The bank denied rumors about a new secondary offering.  “Contrary to market rumors, Bank of America has no intention of issuing additional equity in a secondary offering,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement to media members.

Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) shares dropped 1 percent in extended trading after agreeing to purchase privately-held Kiva Systems for $775 million in cash.  Kiva makes robotic technology for warehouse shelf and pallet systems.

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Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) shares declined 1 percent after saying it will take a $200 million write-down related to the movie bomb, John Carter.  Analysts were expecting a $120 million to $160 million write-down.

Shares of Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) fell more than 4 percent after announcing first quarter results.  Net income for the company dropped 21 percent to $185.2 million (37 cents per share), compared to $234.6 million (46 cents per share) a year earlier.

Michael Kors Holdings Ltd (NYSE:KORS) jumped 3 percent late Monday.  The company raised its fiscal 2012 outlook to 79 cents to 81 cents per share, above estimates of 67 cents per share.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsey Grossman at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com