Stocks in the news: Bank of America, GE, Comcast, Del Monte, Pier 1

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Bank of America (BAC) said it would repay $45 billion in taxpayer bailout funds. The move will free the bank from pay restrictions as it looks to hire a new CEO, but also makes it more vulnerable to further economic shocks. Under the terms reached with the Treasury, the bank will sell up to $18.8 billion in securities that will convert into common stock. The remainder of the $45 billion would be repaid with $26.2 billion in cash. BAC shares climbed about 4% in pre-market trading.

General Electric (GE) and Comcast (CMCSA) have finalized their deal to form a joint entertainment company. Comcast agreed to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal through a venture with General Electric that values the entertainment company at about $37 billion. Comcast will contribute $6.5 billion in cash and $7.25 billion worth of cable channels to the new venture, of which it will own 51%. Jeffrey Zucker will lead the new entity. GE shares traded higher in pre-market action, and CMCSA's gained over 1%.American Airlines (AMR) said it and other members of the Oneworld airline alliance along with private-equity fund TPG are willing to invest $1.1 billion in Japan Airlines to prevent it defecting to Delta Air Lines (DAL) and the rival SkyTeam group.

Del Monte Foods (DLM) said Thursday its second-quarter net income climbed to $62.6 million, or 31 cents. Excluding items, DLM earned 36 cents a share, far above expectations for earnings of 21 cents a share. Shares jumped 4% in pre-market trading.

Marvell Technology (MRVL) and Novell (NOVL) will report after the close.

Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL) reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter loss widened on 30% lower revenue, a decline that exceeded expectations. Toll said it was seeing some signs of recovery. Shares fell 2.6% ahead of the bell.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS) is meeting with major investors to discuss compensation levels in an effort to avert a possible investor backlash over its record bonuses, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ambac Financial Group Inc. (ABK) jumped more than 18% ahead of the bell after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised its counterparty credit and financial enhancement ratings on Ambac Assurance Corp.

Amazon.com (AMZN) closed at a third consecutive new high for the year Wednesday, and it has climbed another 1.5% in pre-market trading.

Siemens (SI) took a big fourth quarter write-down on its struggling network joint venture with Nokia (NOK), and warned of lower operating profits and possible restructuring in 2010. Shares dropped about 2.7%.

Many retailers missed expectations for November sales:

  • Macy's Inc. (M) November reported same-store sales fell 6.1%. Analysts had expected same-store sales to fall 3.1%. Shares declined 2.5%.
  • Costco (COST) reported same-store sales rose 6%, missing the analysts' average estimate of 8.1%. Shares fell 2.8%.
  • Walgreen (WAG) said sales rose 3.9%, missing estimates.
  • Aeropostale Inc. (ARO) reported higher third-quarter net income as same-store sales rose 18%. November sales at stores open one year rose 7%. Shares skidded over 8%.
  • Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. (PLCE) sales fell an unexpected 13%. Shares dropped over 10%.
  • J.C. Penney's (JCP) November same-store sales were down 5.9%, more than estimates.
  • Saks (SKS) reported November same-store sales fall 26.1%, more than estimates. Shares declined over 4%.
  • Target's (TGT) November same-store sales declined 1.5%, more than estimates
  • Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF) reported November same-store sales fell 17%, missing analysts' estimates of a 9.3% decrease. Shares opened over 3% lower.
  • Gap Inc. (GPS) reported November same-store sales were flat, below estimates of a 0.1% rise.
Surprising to the upside were:
  • Pier 1 Imports (PIR) third-quarter same-store sales climbed 13.7% Shares jumped nearly 10%.
  • Limited Brands Inc. (LTD) posted a better-than-expected 3% same-store sales increase. Shares advanced over 2%.
  • Kohl's (KSS) reported November same-store sales rise 3.3%, topping estimates. Shares opened 1% higher.
  • American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEO) said its November same-store sales fell 2%, slightly more than the 1.9% decline analysts had expected. Shares climbed nearly 2%.
  • Nordstrom's (JWN) November same-store sales up 2.2%, matching estimates.
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