Stocks in the news: Texas Instruments, PepsiCo, Apple

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Texas Instruments (TXN) lifted its fourth-quarter outlook, but the sales forecast disappointed investors. Sales will be between $2.9 billion and $3.02 billion this quarter, compared with a previous forecast of $2.78 billion to $3.02 billion. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast $2.93 billion on average. Shares declined 2% in pre-market trading.

PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) lowered the top end of its revenue and earnings outlooks for fiscal 2009 below Wall Street estimates, but reiterated its 2010 guidance on Tuesday. The reason is it stepping up investments in projects aimed at increasing its growth and profitability amid falling North American soft drink sales. PepsiCo also said it had reached a distribution agreement for certain Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (DPS) brands. Shares fell 1.5% ahead of the bell.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Sempra Energy (SRE) are looking to jointly sell their commodities trading arm, The Wall Street Journal reported. RBS has been ordered by the European Commission to sell its 51% stake. RBS shares gained over 2% in pre-market trading.

Apple (AAPL) is going to begin ramping up production on its to-be-announced tablet in February, implying a launch in late March or April, Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner said in a note to clients, citing "checks." Apple has begun to reach out to book publishers, offering a better deal than the one currently offered by Amazon (AMZN). Reiner estimates the tablet could contribute 25 cents to 38 cents of incremental earnings per share per quarter, assuming 1 million to 1.5 million units are sold at an average price of $1,000 and a 22% margin.

Select analyst calls:

  • 3M Co. (MMM) was raised to buy from hold at Citigroup. Shares rose 1.9% before the bell.
  • Sprint Nextel (S) was also upgraded to buy from hold at Citigroup and target share price upped to $5.50 from $5. Shares traded over 5% higher in pre-market action.
  • RealNetworks (RNWK) was upgraded at JPMorgan from underweight to neutral. Shares rallied over 13% in pre-market trading.
  • Sequenom (SQNM) was upgraded at Auriga U.S.A. from sell to hold. Shares jumped more than 5.5% before the bell.

SAIC Inc. (SAI) said its third-quarter profit and revenue rose, beating estimates on the top line only. Shares were down more than 2% ahead of the bell.

Corning Inc. (GLW) said Wednesday that its outlook for 2010 glass-market growth is improving, largely thanks to continued strength in LCD television sales. The company said it is hiking its fourth-quarter volume estimates. Shares were up nearly 1% in pre-market trading.

Novartis (NVS) on Wednesday said it's looking to build out its portfolio with 16 new compounds, with a particular focus on cancer drugs.

MedAssets (MDAS) expects to earn 45 cents to 55 cents per share in 2010, or 86 cents to 96 cents per share excluding one-time costs and gains, missing estimates for profits of $1 per share. Shares sank more than 6% ahead of the bell.

Rambus (RMBS) won't pay a fine in an antitrust settlement with European Union regulators. E.U. regulators dropped their investigation into Rambus after the company pledged to cap royalty fees for DRAM memory chip patents. Shares jumped 4.4% in pre-market trading.

Procter & Gamble (PG) is near an agreement to buy Sara Lee's (SLE) European air-freshener business in a deal that could be worth around $700 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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