Stocks in the News: Discover Financial, Hartford Financial, YRC Worldwide

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

Discover Financial Services (DFS) reported a quarterly net loss of $104 million, or 22 cents a share, on higher loan loss reserves. Excluding the reserve addition, the company earned 11 cents a share, compared with 12 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Discover said it plans to repay $1.2 billion in bailout funds. Shares fell 1.5% before the bell.

Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) said late Tuesday it is also planning to repay $3.4 billion bailout money it received. It is launching a stock and debt offering to help redeem the preferred shares held through the TARP. Shares dropped 1.6% in premarket trading.

Blockbuster (BBI) said on Tuesday for the first time it may need to file for bankruptcy protection after years of struggling to lessen its debt load. Shares sank 30% ahead of the bell.

YRC Worldwide (YRCW) said on Tuesday that its auditor raised substantial doubts about its ability to operate as a "going concern," throwing fresh uncertainty over its ongoing effort to restructure itself outside of bankruptcy. Shares declined 7.5% in premarket trading.

CIT Group (CIT) reported fourth-quarter net income of $3.2 billion. Excluding items, CIT reported a fourth-quarter pre-tax loss of $1 billion. CIT said that it had common equity of $8.4 billion, or $41.99 a share, as of Dec. 31. Shares rose 2.5% before the bell.

Garmin (GRMN) said Wednesday that it will have a one-time increase in its annual dividend to $1.50, compared to its regular payout of 75 cents.

Staples (SPLS) has offered to buy out minority shareholders of Corporate Express Australia for A$390 million, in a deal long-awaited since Staples took over the group's Dutch parent.

Simon Property Group (SPG) is weighing a higher bid for General Growth Properties (GGP) after the No. 2 U.S. mall owner came up with a rival plan to emerge from bankruptcy as a stand-alone company, Reuters cited sources.

Pfizer (PFE) on Wednesday will place an offer in the final round of bids for German generic drug maker Ratiopharm, Reuters cited a source.

TD Ameritrade Holding (AMTD) said on Tuesday that earnings in the current quarter "are shaping up much like" earnings in the previous quarter, due to low market volatility and interest rates. On average, analysts expected TD Ameritrade to report a 20% jump in earnings in the current quarter, compared to the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Intel (INTC) shares jumped 4% to their highest level in more than a year on expectations that robust Asian sales and a rebound in corporate spending will help the chip-maker beat current-quarter earnings estimates.

Microsoft (MSFT) on Tuesday was ordered to pay $105.75 million to VirnetX Holding Corp (VHC) for infringing two patents for communicating over the Internet. Also, its Bing search engine gained market share in the U.S. in February, according to research groups. There has also been much discussion regarding Microsoft's next mobile and regular operating systems and their features.

Google (GOOG) has upgraded its Nexus One phone so it works on the same high-speed wireless network as Apple's (AAPL) iPhone. Meanwhile, Chinese firms placing ads on Google wanted the search company to clarify its position.

Verizon Communications (VZ) filed a complaint against Cablevision Systems (CVC) on Tuesday, alleging that it infringed its patented technology for television set-top boxes, the U.S. International Trade Commission said.
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