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Early movers: MSFT, AXP, CSX, CRM, YUM, F, PRGS, TSCO & more

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell:

Microsoft — The stock was upgraded to "overweight" from "equal-weight" at Morgan Stanley. A strong and growing position in the cloud market is among the factors cited.

American Express — Goldman Sachs downgraded Amex shares to "neutral" from "buy," saying the financial giant's results would remain volatile and that management appears unwilling to take strategic actions that would unlock more value.

CSX — The railroad company reported fourth quarter profit of 48 cents per share, two cents above estimates. However, revenue fell below forecasts on lower shipment volumes, and CSX said a weak global economy and other factors would hurt its 2016 results.

Salesforce.com — Brean Capital initiated coverage on the business software maker with a "buy" rating, noting that its offerings are rapidly replacing companies like SAP and Oracle as de facto industry standards.

Ally Financial — Ally may be willing to sell all or part of itself, according to The New York Times.

Apple — Apple would be interested in any potential Time Warner spinoff, according to the New York Post. The paper said Apple's interest stems from the possibility of the company launching a stand-alone streaming TV service.

Progress Software — Progress earned an adjusted 53 cents per share for its latest quarter, 4 cents above estimates, but its revenue fell short of forecasts. The maker of business applications software gave some mixed guidance, projecting lower-than-expected current quarter profit, but overall 2016 earnings above estimates.

Tractor Supply — The retailer cut its full-year forecast because of unusually warm weather impacting the sale of cold weather goods. Heating equipment, snow blowers, and generators are among the wide variety of products sold by Tractor Supply.

PayPal Holdings — Mizuho began coverage of PayPal with a "buy" rating, saying the payment service is a dominant online payment platform in a unique position to gain even more share.

TiVo — The maker of digital video recorders named Chief Financial Officer Naveen Chopra as its interim chief executive officer, effective January 30. He replaces Tom Rogers, who moves to the role of non-executive chairman. Rogers had previously announced his intention to step down from the CEO post.

Ford Motor — The automaker declared a $1 billion supplemental cash dividend, amounting to 25 cents per share, and also said it expected to report a record 2015 pre-tax profit.

MetLife — MetLife is planning to split off its U.S. retail insurance business from the rest of the company, prompted by the current regulatory environment. The company is considering a variety of approaches, including an initial public offering, a spinoff, or a sale.

Walt Disney — Disney announced it would open its new Shanghai theme park on June 16, following five years of construction. Disney originally had planned to open the new park during 2015.

Yum Brands — The restaurant operator reported that December same-store sales in China rose by 1 percent, driven by a 5 percent gain at its KFC unit. That helped offset an 11 percent same-store sales drop at Pizza Hut. Yum is in the process of spinning off its China business.

Stryker — Stryker raised its full-year 2015 guidance, with the medical device maker saying sales came in at the upper end of its prior forecast. The company was also helped by the suspension of an excise tax on medical devices. Stryker will release its fourth-quarter results for 2015 on January 26.

Qualcomm — The chipmaker formed a $3 billion joint venture with Japan's TDK to make components used in a wide variety of wireless devices.

Alphabet — The company's Google unit created a new virtual reality unit, and named Clay Bavor to head the new operation. Bavor had been running the company's product management team.

Anthem — The health insurer said it could save as much as $3 billion per year in drug costs, thanks to a re-pricing provision in its current contract with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts.

Aetna — CEO Mark Bertolini said the insurer will not give up on the public health exchange market, despite losing money this past year. Competitor UnitedHealth Group recently said it was considering getting out of that business due to high costs and lower-than-expected enrollment.

Aeropostale — Aeropostale is weighing a reverse stock split, in order to regain compliance with New York Stock Exchange listing rule. The teen apparel retailer also said it would eliminate 100 jobs to save up to $40 million per year.


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