NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These stocks were in the headlines ahead of Wednesday's trading session:
Shares of online retailer Amazon were ticking lower ahead of the open after BMO Capital initiated coverage of the company with a market perform rating and a 12-month price target of $260. The firm said it's awaiting a better entry point on the stock, which closed Tuesday at $219.50, up 30% so far in 2012.
"We believe Amazon is poised to continue showing robust revenue growth for the foreseeable future as it adds product categories, expands into international territories, and builds out new business initiatives," BMO said. "We expect the company to spend heavily in fulfillment centers as well as technology and content to drive this robust growth, compressing operating margins in the short term as a result of these expenditures."The firm is bullish about the long-term opportunity in Amazon shares. "After a period of investment, we believe Amazon is well positioned to show sustained margin expansion as the company expands into new business initiatives, gains market share, and continues to exploit existing growth drivers," BMO wrote. "However, we believe the current valuation largely discounts this opportunity." Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF): Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch were gaining ground in Wednesday's pre-market action after The New York Post reported the company is planning to launch a "massive" buyback program. The stock was up nearly 5% ahead of the open after the report, which cited undisclosed sources as saying the repurchase authorization would be a "material increase" over the casual apparel retailer's current 12.9 million share program. The article also said that Abercrombie CEO Mike Jefferies is considering pulling back on the company's aggressive expansion efforts in Europe. The stock closed Tuesday at $32.77, down more than 30% so far in 2012. Apple (AAPL): UBS initiated coverage of Apple with a buy rating and a 12-month price target of $740, saying it sees the release of the iPhone 5 as another positive catalyst for the stock, which it views as being reasonably priced. "Apple is creating a tech empire that likely has not reached its zenith." the firm said. "Our Wave Principle teaches that empires don't last. We recommend the stock, however, because the relatively low valuation seems to discount a too-pessimistic future given moderate smartphone and tablet penetration as well as potential new products." UBS said it believes long-term earnings per share could top $70 vs. the current consensus estimate for a profit of $48.84 in fiscal 2012. "Apple's strategic approach is powerful: it creates new categories with a focus on the job to be done, disrupts from above, and builds integrated platforms," the firm said. "Its execution is quirky but has resulted in the leading mobile device vendor. Future products may include a TV, learning assistant, and perhaps consumer robots." As for near-term earnings, UBS does see some potential bumps in the road. "Two bullish keys to financial results are (1) the iPhone, which is two-thirds of profit, and (2) Asia, which was 40% of profit growth last year," the firm said. "The next couple quarters have some risk due to the iPhone transition, but Apple's capex plans suggest upside to our unit estimates." Apple shares closed Tuesday at $608.21, up more than 50% so far in 2012. JPMorgan Chase (JPM): The bank is reportedly planning to follow through on CEO Jamie Dimon's threats to claw back stock compensation from the employees responsible for the disastrous trade in the Dow component's synthetic credit portfolio that's led to at least $2 billion in losses. According to The Wall Street Journal, Ina Drew, the former chief investment officer at the company who resigned in the wake of the bad trade's disclosure, is among those who will be subject to a clawback, a scenario that Dimon said was possible during recent appearances on Capitol Hill to discuss the so-called London Whale hedging debacle. Investors are likely to get more details on JPMorgan's plans when the bank reports its second-quarter results on Friday morning. The stock closed Tuesday at $34.25, up 2.4% so far in 2012. The shares were sitting above $40 just prior to disclosure of the bad trade. VOXX International (VOXX): VOXX International reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of $9 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $194 million after Tuesday's closing bell. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit of 10 cents a share in the May-ended period on revenue of $207.8 million. Shares of the Hauppauge, N.Y.-based consumer electronics company, formerly known as Audiovox, closed Tuesday at $9.77, and the stock was quoted down 16% at $8.22 during after-hours action on Tuesday.
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