Stocks in the News: Staples, Qualcomm, Toyota

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

U.S. car sales data for February is on tap Tuesday. Analysts expect Toyota (TM) to suffer because of the recalls. The troubled Japanese automaker will probably lose quite a bit of market share it's gained in recent years. The likely beneficiary will be Ford Motor Co. (F), analysts predict, perhaps grabbing the top spot. Nissan (NSANY) and Honda (HMC) may also gain from Toyota's woes. F shares advanced 1.7% in premarket trading.

Staples (SPLS) said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit slid 18% to $233.9 million, or 32 cents per share, even as revenue grew 4% to $6.41 billion. Still, consumers and small businesses continued to delay purchases of larger-ticket items. Adjusted earnings per share were 38 cents, a penny below estimates, and the company's 2010 outlook also missed expectations. Shares tanked over 7% in premarket trading.

Qualcomm (QCOM) said it is increasing its stock buyback to as much as $3 billion and hiking its dividend by 12%. Shares traded 3% higher ahead of the bell.

CF Industries (CF) launched a counter bid for Terra Industries (TRA) of $47.40 a share, totaling $4.7 billion. The bid trumps an agreed bid from Yara International of $4.1 billion, although the latter is all cash, while the former is cash and stock. TRA jumped nearly 13% following the news, while CF sank nearly 8% before the bell.

Dow Chemical (DOW) announced it signed an agreement to sell its Dow's Styron Division for $1.63 billion to Bain Capital Partners, a private equity firm. DOW shares rose 0.9% in premarket trading.

Fresh Del Monte Produce (FDP) reported fourth-quarter net income rose 23% on 4.9% higher sales, beating estimates. FDP shares soared over 12% in premarket trading.

AutoZone (AZO) said Tuesday its second-quarter net income rose 6.4% to $123.3 million, or $2.46 a share, on higher revenue of $1.51 billion, beating estimates.

Daimler AG (DAI) said that it would partner with Chinese auto and battery maker BYD, investing 100 million euro ($135 million) to develop and market a new electric car in China. Development of the new car will start soon. DAI shares were 2.2% higher.

According to MarketWatch, a Morgan Stanley technology conference featuring presentations from Microsoft (MSFT), International Business Machines (IBM) and AT&T (T) also may attract attention.

MBIA (MBI) reported a narrower fourth-quarter net loss to common shareholders of $242 million, or $1.16 a share driven by $661 million in pre-tax loss and loss adjustment expenses. MBIA's loss was greater than estimated.

McDermott International (MDR) reported its fourth-quarter operating income jumped 36% to $122.75 million from $89.67 million. Revenue fell to $1.46 billion due to declines in its offshore oil and gas construction business and its power generation segment. Shares fell 3% ahead of the bell.

Analyst calls:
  • UBS upgraded Dell (DELL) from neutral to buy. Shares rose nearly 2%.
  • HSBC Securities downgraded AT&T (T) from overweight to neutral.
  • Goldman Sachs downgraded Kimberly-Clark (KMB) to sell from neutral due to rising pulp prices. The price target cut by $3 to $60. Shares declined over 2%.
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Markets

S&P 500 2,241.35 29.12 1.32%
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