Stocks in the News: Microsoft, Mattel, Amazon

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The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:

Microsoft Corp (MSFT) posted late Thursday a larger-than-expected 60% jump in earnings on record revenue, powered by strong sales of its latest operating system, Windows 7. Microsoft also said it expected business technology spending to recover this year. Shares traded over 1% higher in premarket action.Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) said late Thursday its fourth-quarter earnings skyrocketed 71% on a 49% revenue growth, as shoppers spent more than ever during a holiday season that improved over the previous year for online retailers. Results handily beat estimates. Amazon was vague about sale of the Kindle e-reader, but said it sold millions. Amazon added it doesn't expect growth to slow and predicted first-quarter revenue that exceeded analyst expectations. Shares jumped over 3% ahead of the bell.

Mattel Inc
. (MAT) reported Friday better sales of its classic toys over the holidays and said cost-cutting helped its fourth-quarter profit rise 86%. Mattel says it earned $328.4 million, or 89 cents per share on 1% higher sales of $1.96 billion. Earnings beat estimates of 68 cents per share, but not revenue of $1.98 billion. Shares rose over 3.5% in premarket.

Chevron Corp. (CVX), is expected to post earnings of $1.70 a share this morning.

Honeywell International Inc. (HON) said Friday its fourth-quarter profit slipped 1% on lower sales from its aerospace and automation units. Results were largely inline with estimates. The company also reaffirmed its 2010 financial guidance, but analysts expect earnings at the high end of that range. Shares fell 3.3% in premarket trade.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) was upgraded at Goldman Sachs to buy from neutral. The target price on WMT shares was to $60 from $58. The broker cited sales, expense control and expanding margins as drivers. Shares climbed 1.7% ahead of the bell.

Fortune Brands (FO) said Friday it swung to profit in the latest quarter, beating earnings estimates on an adjusted basis but guiding 2010 below projections.

Newell Rubbermaid (NWL) said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $60.6 million, or 20 cents a share, after posting a loss in the prior-year period. Sales fell 2% to $1.42 billion. Excluding items, Newell would have earned 27 cents a share, inline with estimates.

Autoliv (ALV) sales surged 70% in the first quarter. The seatbelt maker gave an upbeat forecast for 2010 to reflect rallying sales in China and other emerging markets. Shares jumped 4.8% ahead of the bell.

McDonald's Corp (MCD) said it expects to boost its capital investment in China by about a quarter this year to tap growth in the world's third-largest economy. It aims to expand drive-through outlets and increase franchise numbers.

Toyota (TM) is still-expanding recalls over faulty gas pedals. Analysts say its unprecedented decision to stop selling and building some of its top-selling models in the U.S. will hurt it dearly, forecasting its market share will sink to 14.7%. Rival Ford Motor Co.'s (F) share could increase to 18%. Ford stopped production of some full-sized commercial vehicles built by a Chinese joint venture because they have accelerators built by the same parts supplier as in the Toyota recall.

SanDisk Corp. (SNDK) swung to a fourth-quarter profit on higher sales and margins following more than $1 billion in prior-year write-downs. Results beat expectations. Shares sank 5% in premarket trading as guidance may appear conservative.
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