Stocks in the news: BlackRock, Barclays, Ford, National Semi

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The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

BlackRock (BLK) has agreed to buy Barclays' (BCS) investment arm, Barclays Global Investors in a $13.5 billion cash and shares deal. While the deal makes BlackRock the world's biggest asset manager, it helps Barclays with its capital needs. BLK shares declined 1.4 percent in pre-market trade, BCS's were down nearly 3.5 percent.

Ford Motor Co. (F) is ready for another debt for equity trade, and sell more common stock, so it can improve its balance sheet until the company can become profitable in 2011, CEO Alan Mulally said Thursday. Mulally also said Ford's June sales are already on pace to improve from May's results. Shares climed 1.5 percent ahead of the bell.

National Semiconductor Corp. (NSM) reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $63.7 million, or 28 cents a share, on revenue of $281 million, beating analyst estimates on both counts. Shares fell 2.5 percent before the bell.

Microsoft (MSFT) is going to release its next version of Windows in Europe without a browser after being fined in early 2008 for its bundling practices and facing further sanctions by the European Union's antitrust regulator.

New York Times Co. (NYT) -- The Boston Globe reports that three area businessmen have emerged as possible buyers.

Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) named Tim Morse as chief financial officer Thursday, assuming the responsibilities of CFO on July 1. Morse will be responsible for Yahoo's finance, investor relations, and mergers and acquisitions groups.

Rambus (RMBS) said it's reached a tentative deal with the European Union under which it will cut royalty fees but not pay a fine. RMBS shares soared over 14 percent ahead of the bell.

ArcSight Inc (ARST) posted a quarterly profit that topped market estimates, but forecast a weak first quarter. Shares declined 11.5 percent in pre-market trading.

Ezcorp Inc (EZPW) cut its profit outlook for the third quarter and full year, citing lower-than-expected demand for its loan products and previously owned merchandise in the United States. Shares fell 11.5 percent before the bell.

Analyst calls:

  • Saks Inc. (SKS) was upgraded to Buy from Hold by Deutsche Bank AG, on margin expansion expectations. Shares climbed 9 percent ahead of the bell.
  • Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) was upgarded from Sell to Buy at Argus with a $20 price target. Shares climbed 4.3 percent.
  • Red Hat (RHT) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Argus with a $26 price target. Shares advanced 2.3 percent.
  • Nokia (NOK) was downgraded from Overweight to Equal Weight at Barclays Capital. Shares fell 2.4 percent ahead of the bell.

Savient Pharmaceuticals Inc. (SVNT) shares jumped about 45 percent ahead of the bell on no specific news that I could find yet.

Progressive Corp.'s (PGR) board authorized a new 50-million-share stock buyback program.

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