American Express, InterMune, Jefferies: U.S. Equity Movers

Shares of the following companies are having unusual moves in U.S. trading. Stock symbols are in parentheses, and prices are as of 9:40 a.m. in New York.

Airgas Inc. (ARG US) climbed 0.1 percent to $63.09. The company trying to fight off a hostile takeover by Air Products & Chemicals Inc. was raised to “overweight” from “neutral” at Piper Jaffray Cos. Inc. (AMZN US) rose 1.4 percent to $180.13. The largest online retailer had its share-price estimate raised to $195 from $180 at Barclays Plc, which said the online holiday season has been strong and continues to gain share from both online and offline competitors.

American Express Co. (AXP US) declined 1.5 percent to $43.35. The biggest U.S. credit-card issuer by purchases was cut to “hold” from “buy” at Stifel Nicolaus & Co.

Carnival Corp. (CCL US) rallied 1 percent to $42.95. The world’s biggest cruise-line operator was rated “overweight” in new coverage at HSBC Holdings Plc.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK US) advanced 3.4 percent to $24.09. Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, boosted his stake in the producer of natural gas to an equivalent of 5.8 percent, according to a regulatory filing. Icahn has had and intends to seek further discussions with Chesapeake.

Cloud Peak Energy Inc. (CLD US) climbed 1.8 percent to $20.99. The coal mining company was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” at FBR Capital Markets. The 12-month share-price estimate is $28.

Constellation Energy Group Inc. (CEG US) gained 0.6 percent to $28.91. The developer and operator of electricity generating facilities said Chief Operating Officer Michael J. Wallace, 63, plans to retire in April.

Huntington Bancshares Inc. (HBAN US) added 3.2 percent to $6.43. The Columbus, Ohio-based bank was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at Bank of America Corp.

Illinois Tool Works (ITW US) rose 1.8 percent to $52.92. The maker of Hobart food mixers and Duo-Fast nail guns may rise as it introduces new products and expands into Asia and other emerging markets, Barron’s reported, citing analysts.

Intel Corp. (INTC US) fell 0.3 percent to $21.40. The world’s largest chipmaker’s proposed purchase of McAfee Inc. faces scrutiny from the European Union’s antitrust regulator, which may initiate a lengthier “phase two” investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people.

InterMune Inc. (ITMN US) advanced 6.1 percent to $37. The biotechnology company with a drug to treat a fatal lung disease was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” at Robert W. Baird & Co.

Invesco Ltd. (IVZ US) climbed 0.5 percent to $22.90. The investment management group may rise as much as 20 percent as one of the “best value” asset managers, Barron’s reported in “The Trader” column, citing analysts.

Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF US) increased 0.2 percent to $26.62. The New York-based investment bank said preliminary fourth-quarter earnings will be 35 cents a share, exceeding the average analyst estimate for 32 cents a share.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS US) gained 2.3 percent to $46.44. Sands China Ltd., a majority-owned subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp., said it received a letter from the Macau Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau which should clear the way for the company to start preparing for the sale of shares to prospective buyers interested in owning a Four Seasons-branded apartment at the Cotai Strip in Macau.

MetroPCS Communications Inc. (PCS US) rose 3.5 percent to $12.50. The pay-as-you-go mobile phone company was raised to “outperform” from “sector perform” at RBC Capital Markets. The 12-month share-price estimate is $16.

NetApp Inc. (NTAP US) gained 2.8 percent to $55.32. The maker of data-storage products was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Stifel Nicolaus & Co.

Sara Lee Corp. (SLE US) advanced 0.5 percent to $17.35. The food company’s talks to sell itself to Brazilian meat processor JBS SA have hit a snag over price, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. Sara Lee recently rejected a takeover offer from JBS, deeming the price too low, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The bid was less than Sara Lee’s intraday high of $17.62 on Dec. 17, when the Wall Street Journal reported the companies were in talks, the people said.

Spokesmen for Sara Lee and JBS declined to comment.

SLM Corp. (SLM US) climbed 5.1 percent to $12.67. The student-loan maker may rise to the “high teens” during the next 18 months and could attract a buyer, Barron’s said, citing no one.

Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. (SHO US) retreated 4.9 percent to $9.97. The real estate investment trust that focuses on upscale lodging said Arthur Buser has resigned as president and chief executive officer.

Vivus Inc. (VVUS US) jumped 0.2 percent to $9.80. The drugmaker today announced that it filed a marketing authorization application with the European Medicines Agency for its Qnexa obesity drug, according to a statement distributed by PR Newswire. If approved, Qnexa could receive marketing authorization in all 27 European Union member countries, potentially in late 2011, the company said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney Kisling in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael P. Regan at

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