Stocks in the news: Bank of America, J.M. Smucker, Vonage, Pier 1

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The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

Google Inc. (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) -- the tension between the two rivals continues to grow as the bing search engine continues to grow its market share and after Microsoft claimed Wednesday that a Google application disables a key function in Microsoft's Outlook email program.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) has been paying millions in bonuses in order to lure talent and retain investment bankers the company views as vital, the New York Post reported.

Wells Fargo (WFC) and Capital One Financial (COF) are among 18 banks credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded amid concern about further weakening in the financial sector.

Research in Motion (RIMM) is due to post quarterly results after the close. The question most are asking is whether the BlackBerry maker can repeat last quarter's performance when it surprised the Street. Shares were about 1 percent higher in pre-market trade.

Blackstone Group LP (BX) is in talks with the Shanghai city government to set up a wholly-owned China subsidiary as it prepares to launch a local currency private equity fund, sources told Reuters.

J. M. Smucker Co. (SJM) reported a fourth-quarter profit that more than doubled as the foods maker benefited from its acquisition of Folger Coffee Co. SJM earned $94 million, or 80 cents a share. Quarterly sales rose 81 percent to $1.07 billion. On an adjusted basis, earnings rose to $1.01 a share, handily beating analyst estimates of 69 cents on sales of $997 million.

Pier 1 Imports Inc. (PIR) said it swung to a fiscal first-quarter net profit of $29.3 million, or 32 cents a share even as revenue for the quarter fell 9.3 percent and comparable store sales dropped 7.5 percent. Shares soared over 25 percent ahead of the bell.

Vonage Holdings Corp. (VG) agreed to settle litigation brought on behalf of shareholders regarding the company's initial public offering in May 2006. Shares of VG jumped about 15 percent ahead of the bell.

Winnebago Industries Inc. (WGO) lost $8.6 million in its fiscal third quarter, or 29 cents per share, as revenue plunged 64 percent in the face of tumbling motor-home sales. Results were below estimates.

State Street Corp. (STT) repaid the full amount of the Treasury Department's $2 billion investment in the company under the TARP Capital Purchase Program.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) said Thursday that they intend to form a 10-year global alliance "to help customers leverage the convergence of telecommunications and IT."

Intel Corp. (INTC) is simplifying its brands and logos, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (PSUN) named Gary Schoenfeld president and chief executive officer.

Sotheby's (BID) long-term ratings was put under review by Moody's.

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