Stocks in the news: Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, 3Com, GE, United Tech

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) reported a 3.2% increase in third-quarter profit, helped by inventory controls and other cost-cutting measures. Third-quarter profit was 84 cents a share, above Bloomberg's analyst estimates for profit of 81 cents. Wal-Mart also upped its full-year profit above estimates, but fourth-quarter guidance barely matched projections. Sales grew by just 1% while same-store sales fell by 0.4% in the quarter. Wal-Mart shares slid in pre-market trading.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) announced late Wednesday that it is acquiring networking company 3Com (COMS) for $2.7 billion. The $7.90 a share in cash 3Com shareholders will receive is at a 39% premium to Wednesday's closing price. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2010. 3Com shares soared over 33% in pre-market trading.
Kohl's Corp. (KSS) reported that its profit in the third quarter rose 21% to $193 million, or 63 cents per share, thanks to tight inventory control and sales of exclusive brands. Revenue rose 7% to $4.05 billion. The results beat Wall Street estimates of 61 cents a share on $4 billion in revenue. Same-store sales rose 2%. Kohl's also raised its full-year earnings guidance.

General Electric (GE) sold its security division to United Technologies (UTX) for $1.8 billion. Headquartered in Bradenton, Fla., the business has eight manufacturing facilities and approximately 4,700 employees in 26 countries. United Technologies says the deal will strengthen its own security operations in North America.

Walt Disney & Co. (DIS) will report earnings after the close of trading Thursday. Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) is also due to report Thursday.

Brocade (BRCD) shares fell over 10% ahead of the bell after analysts said the company would be hurt by HP's acquisition of 3Com.

Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR) shares also dropped in pre-market trading. The company's stock lost over 11% after it said Wednesday that first-quarter 2010 profit was likely to come in below analyst expectations, clouding its report of doubling profit in the fiscal fourth quarter and raised guidance for the full year.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) on Thursday said its third-quarter profit more than doubled to $1.55 billion, as chopping $265 million costs from the St. Louis brewer it bought more than offset the impact of declining volumes. Adjusted earnings of 72 cents a share, though, missed analyst expectations of 76 cents a share. Shares fell about 3% ahead of the bell.

Urban Outfitters (URBN) said that third-quarter net income rose to $62.4 million, or 36 cents a share, a penny above estimates. Shares climbed about 1% before the bell.

Applied Materials (AMAT) posted a drop in quarterly profit late Wednesday, but beat estimates. It also said it would cut up to 1,500 jobs as part of a restructuring plan. Shares fell about 1.5% in premarket trading.

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) said Thursday that it expects to report sales of the new video gameCall of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 of $310 million in North America and the U.K. in the first 24 hours of its release. On Tuesday, its first day of release, the title sold about 4.7 million copies in North America and the U.K., according to internal company estimates.

Motorola (MOT) is in the early stages of looking into a potential sale of its $4.5 billion television set-top box and network equipment businesses, two sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
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