U.S. stocks were trading higher Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently rose 48 points to 13376, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index gained 2.5 points to 1459, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 10 points to 3102. Among the companies with shares trading actively in Wednesday’s session are Clearwire Corp. (CLWR), Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) and Facebook Inc. (FB).
Veteran corporate brawler Charlie Ergen launched a surprise attempt to derail one of the cellphone industry’s most closely watched mergers. The chairman of satellite-TV company Dish Network Corp. (DISH, $37.16, +$1.19, +3.31%)–who has amassed billions of dollars of spectrum rights and says he wants to start offering mobile-phone service nationwide–has submitted an unsolicited offer to buy wireless broadband provider Clearwire (CLWR, $3.15, +$0.23, +7.88%). The move is a broadside against Sprint Nextel Corp. (S, $5.85, -$0.12, -2.01%), which agreed last month to buy the half of Clearwire that it doesn’t already own in a $2.2 billion deal. Dish’s offer values Clearwire at $3.30 a share. The per-share price tops Sprint’s bid by around 11% and represents a 13% premium to Clearwire’s closing price Tuesday.
Apollo Group’s ($19.43, -$1.51, -7.21%) fiscal first-quarter earnings fell 11% as the for-profit educator continued to report declining enrollments, hurting revenue. Apollo, which operates the University of Phoenix, also lowered the top end of its full-year revenue guidance. Shares of peer for-profit college operators were broadly lower after the report, including ITT Educational Services Inc. (ESI, $14.62, -$0.57, -3.75%), Strayer Education Inc. (STRA, $53.32, -$3.85, -6.73%), Corinthian Colleges Inc. (COCO, $2.57, -$0.10, -3.57%) and Capella Education Co. (CPLA, $28.14, -$1.14, -3.89%).
Facebook ($30.36, +$1.30, +4.47%) has climbed back above the $30 level for the first time in six months, as the company’s call for a press conference next week has investors buzzing.
Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC reported an 8.2% passive stake in embattled nutritional-supplement maker Herbalife Ltd. (HLF, $39.51, +$1.16, +3.02%), a day before the company hosts an analyst and investor meeting to rebut allegations it is operating a pyramid scheme. The investment from Mr. Loeb’s firm sets up a potential battle with fellow hedge-fund manager William Ackman, who last month lambasted Herbalife’s business model and said he had bet more than $1 billion against the company, sending the stock plummeting over four days in late December.
Hanmi Financial Corp. (HAFC, $15.08, +$0.96, +6.80%), the second-largest U.S. bank catering to Korean-Americans, hired DelMorgan & Co. to advise on a potential sale of itself, reported Bloomberg, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.
Piper Jaffray becomes the second firm in as many months to turn bullish on B&G Foods (BGS, $30.99, +$1.68, +5.73%), raising its price target 13% to $34, a 16% premium to Tuesday’s closing price. Piper’s upgrade to overweight from neutral hinges mainly on BGS’s ability “to execute a meaningfully accretive acquisition in the coming quarters.” BGS has the gunpowder to do a deal too, having recently recapitalized its balance sheet through an equity offering and debt paydown. And investors waiting for a deal can also find solace in a 4% annual dividend yield, second only to Kraft Foods.
Chatham Lodging Trust’s (CLDT, $14.73, -$0.55, -3.60%) offering of 3.5 million shares priced at a 3.8% discount. The company plans to use proceeds in part to repay debt related to a recent acquisition.
Analysts at Global Hunter Securities said after reviewing Comstock Resources Inc.’s (CRK, $13.97, -$1.26, -8.27%) 2013 capital expenditure budget, they are getting more conservative with growth expectations for the year. The firm sees Comstock’s results at the low end of consensus for next year, and revised its price target and total oil production estimate downward.
Crosstex Energy LP’s (XTEX, $15.22, -$0.54, -3.43%) offering of 7.5 million units priced at $15.15, a 3.9% discount to Tuesday’s close. The energy company plans to put proceeds toward its expansion of the Cajun-Sibon natural-gas-liquids pipeline.
Danaher Corp. (DHR, $59.48, +$1.80, +3.12%)–a maker of testing and medical equipment–said it expects to exceed its fourth-quarter profit and revenue forecast, pointing to “broad-based” growth across its business.
Diebold’s (DBD, $29.60, -$1.17, -3.80%) difficulties keeping ATM growth aloft are sticking around, Goldman Sachs projects as it downgrades to sell. Acknowledging shares have lost 28% since April high after a March upgrade compliance deadline pulled forward demand, the firm still expects weakness to persist in next few quarters with growth normalizing to single digit rather than double. Plus, banks are focusing on expense control and rival NCR’s relatively strong growth hints at share gains in U.S. and Brazil. “We see few near-term positive catalysts…given our expectations for a reset to 2013 earnings expectations,” wrote Goldman.
Digital Generation Inc. (DGIT, $10.59, -$0.34, -3.11%) has received a letter from Nasdaq notifying the company that it is subject to delisting from the exchange for failure to hold its 2012 annual meeting of stockholders prior to the end of the year. Digital said it will appeal this determination of noncompliance and potential delisting, which will stay the suspension and delisting until Nasdaq makes a written decision.
Global Payments Inc.’s (GPN, $48.78, +$2.71, +5.88%) fiscal second-quarter income rose 15% as the credit-card processor posted stronger revenue in its North American and international markets, outpacing higher operating costs.