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Stocks to Watch: December 19, 2016

Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell:

Lennar — The homebuilder reported quarterly profit of $1.34 per share, 5 cents a share above estimates. Revenue also beat forecasts. Lennar sold more homes at higher prices compared to a year earlier.

Mosaic — The fertilizer producer struck a deal to buy the fertilizer business of Brazilian mining firm Vale for about $2.5 billion in cash and stock.

Costco — Citi upgraded the warehouse retailer's stock to "buy" from "neutral," saying it sees a clear path to accelerating comparable sales, thanks to the abatement of deflation in food and gasoline.

Walt Disney — The stock was added to the US1 list at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, saying the stock is positioned for outperformance. The firm sees upbeat prospects for Disney's parks and resorts, as well as its movie studios. It also sees the potential for significant capital returns to shareholders.

Reynolds American — Reports say rival tobacco producer British American Tobacco will increase the cash portion of its $47 billion cash-and-stock takeover deal to buy Reynolds.

Allied World Assurance — The Switzerland-based insurer will be bought by Toronto insurance company Fairfax Financial for $4.9 billion in cash and stock. The deal values Allied at an 18 percent premium above Friday's closing price.

Danone — Danone issued a revised 2016 sales growth forecast that is slightly below its original outlook. The French food company attributes the downward revision to weakness at its European dairy business.

Carnival — German investment firm Berenberg cut its rating on the cruise line operator to "hold" from "buy." The firm said it is still optimistic about the 2017 cruise industry outlook but notes the potential negative effects of higher fuel costs, rising interest rates, and a stronger dollar. — Amazon is considering the development of mobile technology for booking truck freight, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple — Apple plans to file an appeal this week, challenging the European Union's $14 billion tax assessment. The EU claimed that Apple's tax deal with the Irish government amounted to illegal state aid. Ireland is also planning to challenge the ruling.

Volkswagen — The company's diesel emissions scandal costs could rise another $1 billion, according to a Journal report. The automaker is said to be close to a deal to resolve claims related to larger diesel vehicles.

BP — BP struck a deal to buy a 10 percent stake in United Arab Emirates oilfields for $1.8 billion. BP will pay about $2.2 billion in stock to gain access to those fields.

Praxair — Praxair could finalize a deal to buy German industrial gas rival Linde by mid-week, according to multiple reports. The two had failed to come to agreement in talks earlier this year, but sources say Linde and Praxair have resolved the issues that grounded the prior talks.

United Technologies — The stock was upgraded to "outperform" from "neutral" at Credit Suisse, with the price target increased to $125 per share from $108. The firm now thinks large industrial conglomerates like United Tech and fellow Dow component GE are now more attractive after lagging the market this year.