Stocks in the news: KB Home, General Motors, Accenture

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KB Home (KBH) reported a narrower first- quarter loss as the slump in the market for new and existing homes continued. The net loss shrank to $58.1 million, or 75 cents a share, below estimates. Total revenues were $307.4 million, down 61 percent from the year-ago period. Shares gained

General Motors (GM) -- President Barack Obama plans to announce a new aid package for GM and Chrysler in the coming days. Obama said the automakers must make "pretty drastic changes" to save their industry. Shares gained 13.5 percent in pre-market trade.

Accenture (ACN) lowered its forecasts for 2009 profit and sales as customers curb orders in the recession. Sales will increase a maximum of 4 percent this year, down from a previous forecast of as much as 10 percent; profit will be $2.60 to $2.67 a share, less than its earlier outlook for at least $2.78. ACN shares declined nearly 10 percent in pre-market trade.

Google Inc. (GOOG) announced Thursday it will lay off 200 workers, or less than 1 percent of the company's payroll, in the advertising segment as the recession squeezes even the Internet's most profitable company. This is on top of firing 100 recruiters earlier this year. Google is joinging other techs announcing layoffs Thursday, IBM (IBM) and Amazon.com (AMZN), cutting 5,000 employees and 200 employees respectively.

Barclays (BCS) is unlikely to need more capital as arising from a stress test done on its balance sheet by the U.K. Financial Services Authority. The test is still ongoing, but the preliminary indication from the FSA is that Barclays's balance sheet is sound. BCS shares gained over 7 percenet in pre-market trade.

Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) said it is countersuing Intel Corp. (INTC) over a chipset contract dispute. Last month, Intel sued Nvidia.

Agilent Technologies (A) announced Thursday it will lay off 2,700 workers and halt share buybacks as the scientific-instrument maker struggles with an unprecedented drop in global demand. It also said it expects revenue this year in its electronic-measurement segment to drop 30 percent, to the lowest level in its 10-year history.

Analyst calls:
  • 3Com Co. (COMS) was upgraded by Barclays Capital from Under Weight to Equal Weight and a target of $3.
  • ConAgra (CAG) was upgraded by Bernstein from Underperform to Market Perform.
  • JC Penney (JCP) was upgraded by JPMorgan from Underweight to Neutral.
  • PG&E (PCG) was downgraded by Citigroup from Buy to Hold.
  • Amazon.com (AMZN) was started by Kaufman with Hold.
  • Dupont (DD) was started at UBS with a Buy.
  • Several solar companies were dongraded by different firms.
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