Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell on Wednesday:
Family Dollar– The discount retailer reported quarterly profit of 86 cents per share, beating estimates by two cents, but also reported flat same-store sales. Family Dollar said it faces tough comparisons to last year for the current quarter but that sales comparisons will ease in future quarters.
Vivus – The drug maker said a study showed positive effects from its Qsymia weight-loss drug in reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes in overweight or obese patients.
Ariad Pharmaceuticals – Ariad is pausing patient enrollment in all clinical studies involving its leukemia drug Iclusig. The studies will be resumed at a future date with changes in dosage and other modifications.
Men's Wearhouse – The troubled retailer is the target of a $2.3 billion takeover bid from rival clothing retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers. The $48 per share cash offer is 36 percent above the Tuesday closing price for Men's Wearhouse shares. Jos. A Bank said Men's Wearhouse is currently reviewing its bid.
J.C. Penney – Saks Chairman and CEO Stephen Sadov will join the retailer's board. His appointment is effective after he leaves his current job, which will occur on the completion of its acquisition by Hudson's Bay.
Costco—The warehouse retailer reported quarterly profit of $1.40 per share, six cents below estimates. September comparable store sales came in at a 3 percent increase, short of the 3.7 percent consensus estimate.
Alcoa – Alcoa reported quarterly profit of 11 cents per share, six cents above estimates, in its first quarterly report since being removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Revenue was also above consensus, as auto parts revenue helped offset a decline in aluminum prices.
Yum Brands - Yum earned 85 cents per share, excluding certain items, for its third quarter, missing estimates of 93 cents. Revenue also fell below analyst estimates, with the restaurant operator warning that it will take longer than expected for sales in China to rebound.
Apple – Apple will hold an October 22 event to introduce a new version of the iPad, according to All Things Digital.
Ralph Lauren – Piper Jaffray downgraded the apparel maker's stock to "neutral" from "overweight", even though it's still positive on the stock long term. Piper cites the absence of a compelling apparel spending environment. Piper also cut Pacific Sunwear to "neutral" from "overweight" on a drop in market share, and upgraded Michael Kors, pointing to what it calls a "staggering increase in mindshare".
Pfizer – The drug maker is among a number of pharmaceutical stocks newly covered by Credit Suisse. Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbvie and Allergan all got "outperform" ratings, while Eli Lilly and Merck get "neutral" ratings.
Wal-Mart – The retailer is ending its relationship with its India business partner, and putting plans for its own retail stores in that country on hold. Wal-Mart cites strict rules on local sourcing.
Starbucks–The coffee chain is offering a free tall coffee to any customer who buys another person a beverage. It's part of a "come together" program that CEO Howard Schultz said is designed to send a message to the country's elected officials.
JPMorgan Chase – The mega bank may reportedly cut back on lending to certain types of businesses, as it seeks to repair and protect its reputation. The Wall Street Journal said the bank has launched an internal review of its commercial lending clients.
H&R Block – The tax preparing company is ending a planned sale of its banking assets to a unit of Republic Bancorp, because of delays in an approval decision from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The nation's largest tax preparer plans to discuss further details in a conference call this morning.
—By CNBC's Peter Schacknow
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