Amedisys, Lorillard, Merge Healthcare: U.S. Equity Preview

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

Altria Group Inc. (MO) fell 0.3 percent to $27.53. Cigarette makers including Altria’s Philip Morris USA and Lorillard Inc. (LO)’s Lorillard Tobacco are appealing a judge’s ruling that oversight of the industry resulting from a 1999 racketeering case is necessary and will continue.

Lorillard was cut to “equal-weight” from “overweight” at Morgan Stanley, which cited valuation and renewed uncertainty related to the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. The Greensboro, North Carolina-based company was cut to “neutral” from “buy” at Davenport & Co. It declined 3.9 percent to $103.49.

Amedisys Inc. (AMED) slumped 7.4 percent to $27.98. CRT Capital Group LLC analyst Sheryl Skolnick cut her 2011 adjusted earnings estimates for the largest U.S. home-nursing provider, as the current average analysts’ forecast does not reflect the negative impact from the physical face-to-face requirement.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) rose 0.9 percent to $50.40. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reiterated its “buy” recommendation for the largest publicly traded copper producer, saying that the company should benefit from higher copper prices amid strong demand.

Lowe’s Cos. (LOW US) lost 1.5 percent to $23.04. The second-largest U.S. home improvement retailer was cut to “neutral” from “overweight” at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), which said that earnings risk is rising.

Merge Healthcare Inc. (MRGE) dropped 4.6 percent to $5.40. The medical imaging provider is buying Ophthalmic Imaging Systems, a provider of digital imaging and informatics solutions for ophthalmology, for $30.3 million in stock.

Southern Copper Corp. (SCCO) fell 5.2 percent to $32.93. Peru’s biggest producer of the metal declined after Ollanta Humala claimed victory in the country’s presidential runoff as voters rallied behind his pledges to stamp out corruption and extend a mining boom to the nation’s poor.

United Therapeutics Corp. (UTHR) slumped 5.9 percent to $58.97. The oral version of the Remodulin drug met the main goal of a late-stage study, helping patients with a lung disorder walk farther. Patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension who took the medicine for 12 weeks walked about 23 meters farther over six minutes than those getting placebo, the Silver Spring, Maryland-based company said in a statement, citing preliminary results from the Freedom-M trial.

To contact the reporter on this story: Inyoung Hwang in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Baker at

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