Stocks in the news: Citigroup, Electronic Arts, Aeropostale

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Some of the companies making headlines today:

Citigroup (C) is looking to scale back its U.S. retail footprint to just six major metropolitan areas and limit most lending to wealthy customers, according to a published report.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) flatly denied the rumor it was going to acquire Electronic Arts (ERTS), saying it has no such plans, according to a Microsoft executive. ERTS shares fell nearly 3.5 percent.

Dell (DELL) -- The SEC charged a Texas man with insider trading for reaping $8.64 million of illegal profit related to Dell's planned purchase of Perot Systems Corp. (PER).

Aeropostale Inc. (ARO) said its CEO Julian Geiger, is stepping down at the end of the year. Mindy Meads, president and chief merchandising officer, and Thomas Johnson, COO, will serve as co-CEOs of the company.

Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) -- An experimental AIDS vaccine made using two older vaccines protected volunteers, one from Sanofi Pasteur, the other by VaxGen (VXGN), lowered the risk of infection but only by about a third, U.S. and Thai researchers reported on Thursday. VXGN shares shot up over 50 percent.

Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) reported a narrower second-quarter loss Thursday, inline with estimates, but cut its full-year forecast, citing a difficult retail environment. Shares dropped over 8 percent.

3Com Corp. (COMS) said first-quarter earnings and revenue fell, but on adjusted basis, EPS and revenue beat estimates. Shares jumped over 6.5 percent.

McCormick & Company Inc. (MKC) said that third-quarter earnings were $75 million, or 57 cents a share, compared analyst estimates of 55 cents a shares.

ExxonMobil (XOM) aims to cooperate with Gazprom in developing energy projects in the northern Russian region of Yamal, the head of the U.S. company's project development unit said on Thursday.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) has made an offer to buy the drug unit of Belgian conglomerate Solvay SA, according to the Wall Street Journal sources.

Boeing Co. (BA), Northrop Grumman (NOC) and Airbus parent EADS will all be vying for a multibillion-dollar competition over a U.S. Defense Department contract potentially worth $35 billion for an initial 179 tanker aircraft, the first of three planned acquisition stages that could cost $100 billion over time.

Vical (VICL) said animal studies showed a cancer vaccine with the company's Vaxfection extra ingredient proved effective, warranting further development of additional cancer applications and exploration of partnering opportunities. Shares were more than 11 percent higher in recent trading.

Cephalon Inc. (CEPH) said Thursday that its supplemental new drug application for its jet-lag treatment Nuvigil has been given a priority review by the FDA.

Genzyme Corp. (GENZ) said Thursday that its randomized Phase 3 clinical trial investigating a leukemia drug met its primary endpoint by demonstrating a significant improvement in progression free survival.

Select analyst calls:
  • AstraZeneca (AZN) downgraded at Goldman to Sell.
  • Red Hat (RHT) upgraded at Merrill/BofA to Buy from Neutral. Price target lifted to $29 from $23.50. Shares jumped nearly 14 percent.
  • Ann Taylor (ANN) downgraded at Goldman from Buy to Neutral. $17 price target.
  • L-3 Communications (LLL) downgraded at JP Morgan to Neutral from Overweight. Price target raised to $85 from $80.
  • Limited Brands (LTD) rated new Neutral at Goldman. $17 price target.
  • National Semiconductor (NSM) upgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Buy. $23 price target. C
  • Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) downgraded at Credit Suisse from Outperform to Neutral.
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