Ultimate Market Recap: Vermillion Jumps 36%, Big Banks Drop

8 Buzzing Stocks: Banks Fall, Merck Disappoints Street and Nutrisystem Plummets 10%

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE:MCD) shares edged .64 percent lower early Tuesday.  Equity research firm Sterne Agee increased their first quarter earnings target for the food giant from $1.22 per share to $1.26 per share.

Major banks such as J.P. Morgan (NYSE:JPM) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) dropped more than 2 percent before the opening bell.  Investors are nervous if Greece will complete a successful bond swap in order to write down more than 100 billion euros of Greek debt.

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Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) fell 1.4 percent in early trading.  The drug maker said it expects adjusted first quarter earnings of 95 cents to 98 cents per share, compared to the Street estimate of $1.01 per share.  The company said the earnings cut was due to currency impact.

Despite report a rise in profits, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE:DKS) shares declined almost 2 percent this morning.  Profit in the fourth quarter reached $111.1 million (88 cents per share), compared to $87.5 million (71 cents per share) a year earlier.

Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) shares edged lower after announcing plans to buy back $4 billion in stock.  The company is also increasing its cash dividend from 21.5 cents to 25 cents per share.  The company supplies the baseband processor for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4S.

Nutrisystem Inc. (NASDAQ:NTRI) shares plummeted more than 10 percent after the opening bell.  The company announced disappointing fourth quarter results.  Earnings came in at a negative 4 cents, missing estimates by 2 cents.  Revenue also decreased 24 percent from the prior year.

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Dick’s Sporting Goods Among Top Stocks Attracting High Trading Demand Mar 6th

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.

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.

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.

Shuffle Master, Inc. (NASDAQ:SHFL): Shuffle Master announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Ongame Network from bwin.party Services. Ongame is a poker provider to online gaming operators. Shuffle Master will pay bwin.party Services euro 19.5M in cash, subject to certain adjustments at closing, and may pay up to euro 10M in cash within five years of closing, contingent upon the commencement of legalized, real-money online poker in the U.S. within such period. The euro 10M contingent payment decreases through the five-year period. Shuffle Master expects to fund the transaction with cash on hand or availability on its existing senior secured revolving credit facility. The acquisition is subject to completion of certain conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals, and is expected to close within not more than nine months following execution of the definitive agreement. Shares of Shuffle Master, Inc. are trading 14.82% higher today.

Stocks Plummet as Europe Adds to Recession Fears

Markets closed down on Wall Street today: Dow -1.51%, S&P -1.54%, Nasdaq -1.36%, Oil -1.72%, Gold -1.71%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $104.88 a barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,674.80 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 2.33% to settle at $32.91.

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Today’s markets were down because:

1) Europe. Stocks were pressured today by weaker economic data and rising yields on euro-area government bonds. Europe’s economy contracted in the fourth quarter as exports and consumer spending declined and investors pulled out of equities. Gross domestic product in the European Union shrank 0.3 percent. Exports fell 0.4 percent in the last three months of 2011, compared to the previous quarter, when exports grew 1.4 percent. Household spending declined 0.4 percent and investment dropped 0.7 percent.

2) Gas. Investors remained wary of political tensions between Iran and Israel, which have driven oil and gas prices sharply higher over the past month. High prices at the pump are threatening to derail the recovery in the U.S., and without any major domestic economic reporters on Tuesday, Americans looked to concerns abroad, where dismal outlooks caused stocks to move sharply lower. On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department will release the February jobs report, until which point investors are likely to remain on edge.

3) Financials. Financial stocks were some of the hardest hit when markets pulled back today. March hasn’t been a good month for stocks, particularly Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), both of which are down about 2 percent so far this month. Bank of America fell around 3.5 percent today, while Goldman was down over 4 percent. JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) fell about 3 percent today, while Citigroup (NYSE:C) was down nearly 5 percent.

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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