Ultimate Market Recap: Huge Debut for Hunger Games, Verenium Jumps 25%

Wall Street Watch: Hunger Games Huge for Lions Gate, Eurozone Firewall Revisited

German chancellor Angela Merkel looks ready to adhere to international pressure and grant a temporary increase in the the euro zone’s “firewall” to EUR 940 billion ($1.25 trillion) to settle the markets, reported CNBC. The firewall would take the  EUR 440 billion in the EFSF rescue fund and combine it with the  EUR 500 billion in the permanent ESM. Once the EFSF expires next year, the balance will return to EUR €500 billion.

Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) action film, “The Hunger Games,” was a huge success over the weekend, earning $155 million at U.S. and Canadian movie theaters. These numbers represent the biggest domestic opening for a film that was not a sequel, reported Reuters. The movie also earned an additional $59.3 million in 67 other markets, giving it a global total of $214.3 million.

MetLife (NYSE:MET) and Prudential (NYSE:PRU) are  joining insurers in reviewing a potential bid for ING’s (NYSE:ING) Asian life insurance division, according to The Wall Street Journal. A possible bidding war could ensue, leading to a $6 billion bid for the unit while Bloomberg is reporting that ING is looking for a $7 billion bid.

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) announced in a press release that it has appointed three new independent directors to its board, effective in April. This includes  John D. Hayes, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, American Express Company (NYSE:AXP); Peter Liguori, former Chief Operating Officer of Discovery Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:DISCA) and former Chairman and President of Entertainment of Fox Broadcasting Network (NASDAQ:NWSA) ; and Thomas J. McInerney, the outgoing Chief Financial Officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI).

With the addition, the company’s board will now have 10 members with tenures since 2010. This group does not include anyone who rejected the 2008 $45 billion Yahoo buyout offer by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

6 Early Movers: Lions Gate Jumps After Record Box Office, Citigroup Lowers Verizon Outlook

Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:LGF) jumped more than 4 percent in early Monday trading.  Over the weekend, ‘The Hunger Games’ earned an estimated $155 million in the United States.  The debut was the third best in Hollywood history.

J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE:SJM) shares edged slightly higher after announcing it paid $35 million for a minority interest in Guilin Seamild Biologic Technology Development Co., a privately owned manufacturer and marketer of oats products.

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Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (NASDAQ:CALM) shares remained mostly unchanged after report third-quarter results.  Net income for the company declined 22 percent to $26.1 million, compared to $33.6 million a year earlier. 

General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) shares jumped more than 1 percent before the opening bell.  The company signed a memorandum of understanding with Nigeria to invest $10 billion in new power plants.

Shares of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) gained .30 percent, despite Citigroup (NYSE:C) lowering earnings per share estimates for the wireless company.  Citigroup explained, “We have adjusted our first quarter estimates to reflect a lower wireline OIBDA margin of 22.7 percent (from 23.5 percent previously), which incorporates some negative seasonality of payroll and benefit costs.

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Cal-Maine, Verenium, China XD Plastics, MAPP, Finish Line Attract Hot Trading Interest Mar. 26

Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (NASDAQ:CALM): Reported Q3 revenue $303.7M versus one estimate $319.5M. Shares of Cal-Maine Foods Inc are trading 3.43% lower today.

Verenium Corporation (NASDAQ:VRNM): Verenium announced it has closed a transaction with DSM Food Specialties B.V., a business group of Royal DSM, in which Verenium has sold to DSM its Oilseed Processing business, licensed certain enzymes for use in the food and beverage markets, and will provide access to new gene libraries to be developed by Verenium. Verenium will receive $37M in total consideration, including transaction and related expenses, on March 26. Following the transaction, Verenium’s business remains focused on providing novel enzymes in the areas of animal health and nutrition, grain processing and oilfield services. In addition, Verenium’s robust pipeline of novel product candidates provides an important basis for future growth. Shares of Verenium Corporation are trading 25.32% higher today.

China XD Plastics Co Ltd (NASDAQ:CXDC): Reported Q4 total volume up 47.1% to 49,988 metric tons. Shares of China XD Plastics Co Ltd are trading 4.13% higher today.

MAP Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:MAPP): Nektar (NASDAQ:NKTR) will receive royalties should the FDA approve MAP Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:MAPP) acute migraine drug today and Affymax’s anemia drug tomorrow, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Shares of MAP Pharmaceuticals Inc. are trading 5.43% higher today.

Finish Line Inc (NASDAQ:FINL): Longbow upgraded Finish Line citing favorable athletic footwear momentum through 2012. Price target is $31. Shares of Finish Line Inc are trading 3.85% higher today.

8 Late Radar Stocks: Hunger Games Propels Lions Gate, Apple Throws Baidu a Bone

After closing more than 4 percent higher on Monday, shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:LGF) edged slightly higher after the bell.  The Hunger Games blockbuster has been a huge boost for shares.  The movie, which hit theaters last Friday, brought in more than $150 million in its opening weekend.

Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ:APOL) shares jumped 4 percent in late trading.  The education company said second-quarter earnings excluding items were 58 cents per share, beating estimates of 39 cents per share.  Profit came in at $63.9 million, compared to a loss of $64 million a year earlier.

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American Express Co. (NYSE:AXP) climbed higher after announcing a quarterly dividend hike of 11 percent to 20 cents per share.  The dividend is payable May 10 to shareholders of record as of April 5. The firm’s board also approved a buyback of up to 150 million shares “from time to time.”

Shares of Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) edged higher in late trading.  A report from Sina Tech indicates that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will add Baidu as a search option for Chinese users in a pending iOS update.  However, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) will remain the default option.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR) shares declined .40 percent in extended trading. Founder and chairman Robert Stiller sold $66.3 million of his stock in the company before Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) announced its single-cup coffee machine to rivals its K-Cup brewer.

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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