Stocks in the news: Hewlett-Packard, Deere, Citigroup

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Some of the companies making major headlines today:

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) reported results Tuesday after the close. Its profit declined 19 percent in the quarter, showing that the company still relies heavily on printer ink and the troubled personal computer market, despite efforts to branch out. Still, HP topped analyst profit and sales estimates, and boosted guidance. Shares declined about 2.5 percent in pre-market trade on expected continued weak demand for personal computers and printer ink.

Deere & Co. (DE) reported Wednesday morning a 27 percent drop in its fiscal third-quarter profit to $420 million, or 99 cents per share. The global economic slowdown continued to depress sales of its products, which declined 24 percent to $5.89 billion. Still, results trounced Wall Street expectations for earnings of 57 cents per share on revenue of $5.25 million. The company affirmed its fiscal-year forecast. Investors seem to expect continued pressure in the heavy machinery market as Deere shares fell 4 percent ahead of the bell.

BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ) said Wednesday that its second-quarter profit dipped 4 percent from year-ago results that were boosted by a tax settlement. Still, despite a 5 percent drop in sales and a 7.7 percent decline in same-store sales -- both mostly due to gasoline prices -- the retailer beat analysts' estimates and raised its full-year profit outlook.

Citigroup (C) -- The Financial Times reports that, according to confidential agreements, U.S. regulators put direct pressure on the bank to replace its CFO Ned Kelly only weeks before his surprise departure.

Lincoln Financial Group (LNC) sold its diversified asset management firm Delaware Investments to Australia's Macquarie Group Ltd. for $428 million cash.

Alcoa (AA) was downgraded today to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs, which also removed it from its America's buy list. Shares fell 3.8 percent in pre-market trading.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Tuesday filed a motion to stay an injunction barring the company from selling its word processor software, Word, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Other analyst calls:
  • AnnTaylor (ANN) was upgraded by UBS from Neutral to Buy.
  • Target (TGT) was upgraded by Piper Jaffray from Neutral to Overweight.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) was downgraded from positive to Neutral at Susquehanna Financial.
  • Toll Brothers (TOL) was downgraded from Hold to Sell at Stifel Nicolaus.
AIG (AIG)'s newly appointed CEO Robert Benmosche "has started to cut up the insurer's restructuring plan, deciding it is better to hold on to an investment advisory unit that is part of the insurer's retirement services group," Reuters reported.
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