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Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell:

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase– Jefferies is initiating coverage on the two bank stocks with "buy" ratings, in a report titled "Still Risks, But More Rewards". It said the two group in general offers an attractive risk/return profile, although it does rate Citigroup a "hold".

Twitter–Cantor Fitzgerald cut its rating on Twitter shares to "sell" from "hold", based on what it considers excessive valuation.

Constellation Brands–The spirits maker earned $1.10 per share for its third quarter, beating estimates by 19 cents. Revenue also beat estimates, and the company also boosted its 2014 outlook.

Forest Labs–The drug maker is buying specialty pharmaceutical company Aptalis Holdings for $2.9 billion in cash from private equity firm TPG.

Velveeta shortage 'short-term issue': Kraft

Hess Corporation–Hess has filed for a tax-free spinoff of its retail unit, after considering the matter for several months.

McDonald's–Wells Fargo downgraded the restaurant chain's stock to "market perform" from "outperform", saying drivers of a quick revenue boost will be hard to come by in 2014.

Panera Bread–Wells Fargo upgraded Panera to "outperform" from "market perform", based on improved transaction growth for the restaurant chain this year.

Micron Technology–The chip maker handily beat estimates with its latest quarterly earnings report, fueled by increasing sales of its memory chips. The stock was one of 2013's top gainers in the S&P 500.

Ford–CEO Alan Mulally told the Associated Press he is not leaving Ford for Microsoft despite widespread speculation. Mulally said he would stay with the automaker at least through the end of this year. Separately, Microsoft is said to be close to naming a successor to outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, according to Reuters.

Container Store –The storage products retailer reported third quarter profit of 11 cents per share, excluding certain items, beating estimates by three cents. Its revenue, however, was slightly short of consensus, and its overall results were hurt by $14.6 million in costs associated with IPO-related compensation expenses.

–Sirius added 1.66 million net subscribers last year, more than previously forecast, and the satellite radio operator said it expected to meet or exceed all other guidance provided for 2014.

–CEC is exploring a sale to private equity firms, according to a Reuters report. The parent of restaurant chain Chuck E. Cheese is said to be working with and has spoken with interested buyers over the past few months.

–The owner of online college University of Phoenix beat Street estimates with its latest quarterly earnings report, as its restructuring efforts increasingly improve its bottom line.

–The health insurer plans to sell its 1-800-Contacts unit to private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, less than two years after it purchased the unit.

–Sprint is offering what's been dubbed , letting a group of 10 family members and/or friends receive substantial wireless service discounts if they sign up as a group.

–Kraft is warning of a possible shortage of its Velveeta, which often surges in popularity during the National Football League's post-season. Separately, the food giant got an upgrade to "buy" from Deutsche Bank.

–IBM is struggling to turn its "Watson" supercomputer into the $1 billion per year business that CEO Ginni Rometty has envisioned, according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal.

–Deutsche Bank upgraded both stocks to "buy" from "hold", while cutting to "hold" from "buy".

By CNBC's Peter Schacknow

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