Stocks in the news: H&R Block, Google, Total, Abercrombie & Fitch

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Some of the companies making headlines today:

H&R Block Inc. (HRB) said Friday it lost a larger-than-expected $133.6 million in the first quarter, about the same as a year ago, due to acquisition expenses and other costs that offset slightly higher revenues. On an adjusted basis, HRB lost 40 cents per share, above analyst expectations of 37 cents per share. Revenue edged up 1.3 percent, but fell short of analysts' expectations. Shares fell 4 percent in pre-market trading.

Google Inc. (GOOG) is still trying to climb to a dominant position in China, where Baidu (BIDU) is the market leader and to do that it decided some management shakeup was in order. It confirmed the departure of its China president on Friday and said its regional sales head John Liu would take over Lee Kai-Fu's business and operational responsibilities.
Santander's Brazilian unit Banco Santander SA, filed on Thursday for an initial public offering in Brazil and the United States, in what could become one of the largest IPOs of the year, perhaps worth around $5.6 billion based on its current market value of around $37 billion. This could be the highest IPO in 2009, reflecting also the relative strength of the Brazilian banking sector.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) will hold its usual Septemeber media extravaganza next week, but reaction is muted as not only is it uncertain whether CEO Steve Jobs will appear, it seems that nothing much apart from new iPods with cameras will be revealed. Some still hope, though, that a deal has been struck and the Beatles catalog may finally be coming to iTunes.

McDonald's (MCD), even after an eight-year legal battle with a Malaysian restaurant called McCurry over copyright infringement, can't put it rest yet as it is set to continue on Monday in the country's highest court. McDonald's, with its 185 outlets in the country, is appealing against an earlier decision that its trademark had not been infringed upon by the local restaurant, which has one outlet in the Southeast Asian country's capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Ford Motor Co.'s (F) corporate family rating was upgraded by Moody's Investors Service to Caa1 from Caa3.

Total (TOT) got a vote of confidence from Morgan Stanley with the analyst saying the shares "are priced to fail and now is the time to buy" them. Shares climbed 1 percent in pre-market trading.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) was downgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Sell and price target lowered to $24 from $33. Shares fell over 4 percent before the bell.

HSBC Holdings (HBC) said it's going to sell its Polish HSBC Credit branded consumer finance portfolio, and its credit card portfolio, to Alior Bank SA for a premium to the book value of the receivables at the date of completion. Shares were 2 percent higher ahead of the bell.

Moog Inc. (MOG.A) said Friday that it is in talks to buy the Wolverhampton, U.K.-based flight control actuation product line from GE Aviation Systems, a unit of General Electric Co. (GE).

Amedisys Inc. (AMED) reaffirmed its 2009 earnings outlook Friday, a day after the company's shares plunged 21 percent following the resignations of two top executives. Shares jumped 5.7 percent in pre-open trading.

Phillip Morris International (PM)'s Thai unit faces charges that it violated customs tax rules by understating the prices of imported cigarettes, allegations which it denies.

Cooper Cos. Inc. (COO) said late Thursday its fiscal third-quarter income rose but not enough to beat estimates. Shares fell about 3.5 percent before the bell.
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