Verizon Denies Rumors, Zynga Surges, Monsanto Beats Earnings: Morning Buzzers

Stock futures were a mixed bag on Wednesday morning following the ADP employment report. ADP shows that there were 158,000 private payroll additions in March, a far cry from a consensus estimate calling for 205,000 additions. Some good news is that February payroll additions were upwardly revised from 198,000 to 237,000.

Futures at 8:45 a.m.: DJIA: -0.03%, S&P 500: +0.03%, NASDAQ: +0.03%.

Here’s what’s buzzing on Wednesday morning:

Vodafone Group (NASDAQ:VOD) was off as much as 3 percent in pre-market trading after Verizon (NYSE:VZ) filed a document with the SEC stating that “as Verizon has said many times, it would be a willing purchaser of the 45% stake that Vodafone holds in Verizon Wireless. It does not, however, currently have any intention to merge with or make an offer for Vodafone, whether alone or in conjunction with others.”

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Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) was off about 1.1 percent in pre-market trading after getting whacked with a downgrade to Neutral from Goldman Sachs. The firm’s new price target of $101 represents a 19 percent upside on Tuesday’s closing price.

Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) climbed as much as 11 percent after the company announced that “starting tomorrow, players ages 18 and over in the UK can experience Zynga’s first real money games ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino powered by bwin.party.” Zynga’s foray into online real-money gambling has been closely watched by investors, and speculation about its success in the are has helped drive the stock up 27 percent over the past three months.

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) was up just fractionally in pre-market trading after reporting better-than-expected second-quarter profit of $2.74 per share, which compares to estimates for $2.58 per share. The seed maker also raised its fiscal 2013 earnings forecast from a range of $4.30 to $4.40 per share to a range of $4.40 to $4.50 per share.

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ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG) was off as much as 2.8 percent after reporting third-quarter earnings of $0.55 per share, just one cent shy of expectations. Diluted EPS from continuing operations fell from $0.67 in the year-ago period to $0.29.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission released a statement on Tuesday ”that makes clear that companies can use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to announce key information in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) so long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.” The decision takes people like Reed Hastings and Elon Musk off the hook after they took some flak for disclosing information through social media.

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