Ultimate Market Recap: Target Testing Apple Mini-Stores, Metabolix Takes a Nosedive

Thursday Morning’s Top Stories

Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS) shares are surging more than 6 percent early Thursday. The bank announced it will cut 3,500 jobs over a three-year period. “It is clear that, particularly in the wholesale banking arena, significant new pressures have emerged,” Chief Executive Stephen Hester said.  Shares of Barclays (NYSE:BSC) and HSBC Holdings (NYSE:HBC) are also climbing higher.

Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE:KSS) announced it will expand its New York City design office and add a new one on the West Coast.  It will represent the third expansion in New York City since it opened in 2007. The expansions are part of the company’s strategy to focus on exclusive brands. Shares are trading flat.

Investor Insight: Eric Sprott and Endeavour Silver: A Match Made in Heaven?

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:SHLD) is falling 6 percent as CIT Group pulls some financing from the firm.  The Wall Street Journal reported that CIT would no longer finance loans to Sears’s suppliers who were waiting to be paid by Sears.

Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) shares are attracting attention after the retailer said its board authorized a plan to begin purchasing $5 billion of shares. “Our plans envision continued generation of much more cash than we believe is appropriate to invest in our core businesses,” Doug Scovanner, Target’s chief financial officer said.  Target also announced it will be testing a unique display concept with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products at 25 stores.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE:DKS) announced a buyback of their own. Shares surged 10 percent after the company said it will buyback up to $200 million of its common stock over the next 12 months. Shares of Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE) are also edging higher.

Shares of Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES) are climbing .26 percent higher. The company said it expects to spend $6.8 billion on capital projects, which is an increase from last year’s $5.6 billion. “We believe that the investments we are making in unconventionals are lower risk and will generate long term profitable growth for shareholders,” CEO John Hess said in a prepared statement. “We expect to fund the majority of our 2012 program from internally generated cash flow and asset sales.”

Don’t Miss: Wall Street Brief: Sears Holdings Loses Liquidity, Coca-Cola’s Guilt.

Thursday Morning Hot Stocks

Markets rallied back all day. Apparently, investors have gotten over this morning’s fear following the release of weaker than expected U.S. economic data. As the focus returned to progress, stocks were able to catch a bid. Here are five stocks with super hot news.

Indian software exporter Infosys Ltd ADR (NASDAQ:INFY) having estimated sales of $7.08B-$7.2B in October, predicts ~$7.03B in sales for the year period ending March 31. FQ3 earnings of 23.7B rupees ($458M) up 15.4%with Y/Y Topping quarterly profit expectations.

After announcing a $200M buyback of its common stock from cash on hand over the next 12 months, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS) shares caught a bid. Blaming warm winter weather the company is expecting Q4 profit of $0.87-$0.88 and full-year $2.01 to $2.02,  and now additionally lowers the high-end of Q4 and FY2011 EPS guidance by a penny.

Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ:TSCO) outperform rated shares are trading 8.10% higher today after the company raises FY11 EPS to $2.97-$2.99 from $2.85-$2.89, FY11 EPS consensus of $2.91. Tractor Supply notes that, compared to the previously indicated range of 5c-6c per diluted share the 53rd week in FY11 represented a benefit of approximately 9 cents per diluted share. RW Baird raised Tractor Supply price target to $85 from $83, following the company’s positive Q4 pre-announcement. Current momentum, increased traffic and comps, and its small market opportunity were cited as reasons.

A lawsuit filed by Universal Entertainment’s Kazuo Okada has filed a lawsuit Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) seeks to force Wynn Resorts to open up their books. This pertains to a $129M pledge to a Macau university and to delve into details following Stephen Wynn’s divorce. Okada says he’s seeking to protect his $380M stake in Wynn.

Mad Money’s Jim Cramer has highlighted the newly-minted Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. Common Stock (NYSE:FBHS). This is the home-products division of the old Fortune Brands while the new Fortune Brands is all about everything for the home. Even at times without a boom in new home construction, Cramer noted that Fortune Brands has a solid, profitable business and also commented that the average age of a U.S. home is pushing 40 years. The new Fortune Brands has a 22% long-term growth rate.

Thursday’s Trending Stocks

It’s that time again: pre-announcement season on Wall Street. Lots of companies are giving investors a heads up on what to expect when earnings are announced. Other companies are active in the capital markets. Here are some of the most actively traded stocks today with news.

Multi-Fineline Electronix, Inc. (NASDAQ:MFLX) announced better-than-anticipated preliminary financial results for the first quarter – revenue of $239 million versus consensus estimates of $215.17 million. MFLEX CEO Reza Meshgin said, “We expect our net sales results to exceed the high end of our previous guidance range as the supply chain shortages from the flooding in Thailand improved throughout the quarter. We also saw an increase in shipments to our largest key customer.  The increased orders improved capacity utilization which we expect to result in gross margin also exceeding the high end of our previous guidance.” The company predicts fiscal Q1 net sales of approximately $239 million, comparable to the same period of the prior year. Gross margin during Q1 is expected to be approximately 12.2 percent, compared to 14.3 percent for the same period in the previous year. Shares of Multi-Fineline Electronix, Inc. are up 17.84 percent today.

PharMerica Corporation (NYSE:PMC): The FTC is reportedly ready to stop Omnicare’s (NYSE:OCR) suggested $716 million offer for fellow pharmaceutical companyr PharMerica, with a judgement expected by the end of next week. “The FTC is not offering Omnicare any remedies,” says a source, so it s not attempting to find ways to validate the deal. Today shares of PharMerica Corporation are down 7.41 percent today.

JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ:JASO): A surge in demand at the end of 2011 has caused solar firms to think about a slight price increase. Investors are bidding JASO higher on the news.

China GrenTech Corporation Limited (NASDAQ:GRRF) has entered a ’going private’ agreement and plan of merger with a group of buyers for $3.15/ADS. Buyers include Talenthome Management Ltd, a British Virgin Islands exempted company, and Xing Sheng Corp., a Cayman Islands exempted company wholly-owned by Parent. Parent is indirectly jointly owned by Rong Yu, the company’s director and CFO; Yingjie Gao, the company’s chairman and CEO and Yin Huang. The Buyer Group collectively beneficially owns about 41.9 percent of the firm’s issued and outstanding ordinary shares and plans to underwrite the merger and other projects contemplated by the Merger Agreement through funds from a loan facility in the amount of HK$320,000,000 from Guotai Junan Finance Ltd.

Linn Energy, LLC (NASDAQ:LINE) filed to sell 17 million shares of common stock yesterday. Shares of Linn Energy, LLC are down 2.89 percent today.

Market Recap

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.17%, S&P +0.23%, Nasdaq +0.51%, Oil -1.77%, Gold +0.69%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $99.08 a barrel. Precious metals were up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,650.90 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 1.02% to settle at $30.20.

Hot Feature: Major Banks, Credit Card Companies Named in Multi-Billion Dollar Antitrust Suit

Today’s markets were up because:

1) Bonds. Spain and Italy both had successful debt auctionstoday that saw borrowing costs fall sharply in the first test of euro-zone bond markets in 2012. The Spanish Treasury raised 10 billion euros, double its target, as it auctioned three kinds of bonds, while Italy paid less than half what it did a month ago to sell one-year bills. Spain and Italy both saw the spread between yields on their benchmark 10-year notes and Germany’s benchmark bunds narrow as banks took advantage of cheap three-year loans from the European Central Bank to invest in sovereign debt. Ultimately, the success of today’s European bond auctions, and the expectation of continued success, was enough to outweigh a host of negative economic data today, allowing markets to close slightly up. The euro climbed to $1.2822.

2) Data. Jobless claims rose more than expected last week, the first week of the New Year, signaling that improvement seen in the job market in November and December may have largely been the result of higher temporary holiday hiring than in previous years. As the holiday shopping season winds down, unemployment could tick upward as retailers let go of temporary hires. In another bad sign for employment and the economy as a whole, retail sales rose just 0.1 percent in December as lower gas prices and heavy holiday discounts weighed down the value of goods sold. Purchases excluding automobiles fell 0.2 percent in their first decline since May 2010.

3) Oil. The U.S. won Japanese support today for sanctions on Iranian oil that not only threaten the flow of world oil supplies, but also the possibility of war. Iran has refused to terminate a nuclear program it says is entirely peaceful, but Western superpowers suspect the country to be developing nuclear weapons. In response to what it deems to be unjust sanctions, Iran has threatened to block access to the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly one-fifth of the world’s oil supply is transported. In what could be another upset to global supply, Nigeria’s main oil union, which has been on strike over the last four days, has threatened to shut down output completely, beginning Sunday, if the government does not reinstate a petrol subsidy that ended January 1, doubling oil prices for Nigerians 150 naira ($0.93) per liter. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, and exports largely to the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

BONUS: Foreclosures Fell Last Year to Lowest Level Since 2007

After Hours Radar Stocks

Shares of Shutterfly Inc. (NASDAQ:SFLY) are down almost 4 percent in late market trading.  The company’s CFO, Mark Rubash, has left the company to join a medical tech company.

Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND) shares fell 15 percent after the closing bell.  The Department of Justice is investing the food company for possible criminal fraud associated with its accounting practices with walnut growers.  Other food companies such as ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE:CAG) and Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE:KFT) are flat in late trading.

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Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is edging slightly lower after disclosing it has added VMware (NYSE:VMW) co-founder Diane Greene to its board. Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are slightly higher in extended trading.

Shares of Metabolix Inc. (NASDAQ:MBLX) are crashing more than 40 percent after the closing bell. The bioscience company announced that Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE:ADM) has given notice to terminate its Telles, LLC joint venture for PHA bioplastics. The termination takes effect February 8, 2012.

Although shares closed almost 4 percent higher on Thursday, New York and Co. (NYSE:NWY) announced it will post a fourth quarter loss, due to a bigger-than-expected decline in same-store sales. Shares of Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) also closed higher, while Express Inc. (NYSE:EXPR) closed lower.

Investing Insights: Bed Bath & Beyond and 2 Widely Held Consumer Stocks on the S&P 500 Loser List.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stella Mariz at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

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