Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell on Thursday:
J.C. Penney - Investor Bill Ackman told WWD that he will stick by his investment in the retailer, despite the departure of the man he championed for the CEO position, Ron Johnson. Ackman's Pershing Square holds 17.8 percent of Penney's stock. Separately, the New York Post reports three more top executives, all former Apple employees, have left – COO Mike Kramer, chief talent officer Daniel Walker, and chief creative officer Mike Fisher.
Bed Bath & Beyond - The retailer reported fourth-quarter profit of $1.68 per share, in line with Street estimates, with revenue also matching expectations. However, the retailer is predicting current quarter profit of $0.88 to $0.94 per share, short of estimates of $0.95, with sales growing less than anticipated. Bed Bath has been hit by online competition, increasing coupon redemption, and a shift to lower-margin merchandise.
Yum Brands - Yum reported same-store sales in China dropped 13 percent from a year earlier, with a new bird flu outbreak impacting sales. China has been Yum's fastest-growing market, and its stock has been hit hard in recent months on occasions when it has reported negative news in China sales.
(Read More: See the Day's Top Percentage Winners & Losers)
MetroPCS Communications - MetroPCS received what Deutsche Telekom calls its "best and final offer" to merge its T-Mobile USA unit with MetroPCS. The new deal sweetens the prior agreement by reducing the amount of debt the combined company would hold by $3.8 billion.
Costco Wholesale - Costco reported a four percent rise in same-store sales for March, below analysts' forecasts of a 5.2 percent rise. Costco was hurt by lower fuel prices and a stronger dollar.
Fortinet - Fortinet is predicting current quarter profit of $0.10 to $0.12 per share, below its prior estimate of $0.11 to $0.12 a share and Street forecasts of $0.12 a share. The maker of network security products has been hurt by cautious customer spending and a delay in closing deals.
Zumiez - The retailer reported a March same-store sales increase of 2.1 percent, much better than analysts' forecasts of a 7.5 percent drop from a year earlier. Zumiez specializes in snowboarding and outdoor apparel.
International Paper - Third Point's Daniel Loeb added to his position in IP during the first quarter. His quarterly investment letter highlights a "compelling case" to own IP shares.
Protective Life - The Alabama-based insurer is buying a portfolio of U.S. policies from France's AXA for $1.1 billion. AXA is the owner of long-time U.S. insurance brand Mony, which it bought in 2004.
Microsoft - Micrsoft is developing a new line of its Surface tablets, according to The Wall Street Journal. That includes a new 7-inch version, as it tries to keep up with Google and Apple in the smaller tablet market. Separately, Microsoft has been downgraded to "sell" from "neutral" at Goldman Sachs, while Nomura has cut its rating to "neutral" from "buy." The Nomura report cites sluggish adoption of Windows 8, among other factors.
Limited Brands - The retailer reported March same-store sales increased 3 percent, better than the unchanged sales estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
Quest Diagnostics - Goldman Sachs upgraded the medical laboratory operator's stock to "buy" from "neutral," citing improved fundamentals and new management.
Acadia Pharmaceuticals - The drugmaker said it has sufficient data to file a New Drug Application for its "Pimavanserin" Parkinson's Disease treatment, making another phase-3 study unnecessary.
(Read More: See CNBC's Market Insider Blog)
—By CNBC's Peter Schacknow
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