Stocks in the News: Best Buy, ConAgra, Red Hat

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

Best Buy (BBY) reported fourth quarter earnings rose 37% to $779 million, or $1.82 per share, on better sales of notebook computers and flat-panel TVs. This was better than the $1.79 per share analysts had expected. Revenue increased 12% to $16.55 billion, again, better than estimates of $16.08 billion. Same-store sales rose 7% and even the outlook was above that of analysts. Shares jumped 6.3% ahead of the bell.

ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG) reported adjusted fiscal third quarter earnings of 44 cents per share, inline with the analyst estimates. Revenue for the quarter was $3.096 billion, below estimate of $3.15 billion. The company reaffirmed outlook.

CKE Restaurants Inc. (CKR) said late Wednesday that its profit grew in its fiscal fourth quarter to $15.4 million, or 28 cents per share, but that was mainly due to a sizable tax benefit. Revenue fell nearly 5% to $311.7 million with same-store sales falling 6% as a result of the weak economy. Results came in below expectations.

PetroChina Ltd., (PTR) said Thursday its net profit fell 9.7% to 103.4 billion yuan ($15.1 billion) or 0.56 yuan (8 cents) a share in 2009, due to lower demand that lowered revenue by 5% to 1.02 trillion yuan ($149 billion) and weak pricing power that squeezed its refining margins.

McCormick & Co. Inc. (MKC) said Thursday its first-quarter net income rose 18% to $67.9 million, or 51 cents a share as revenue increased 6% to $764.5 million. Results topped estimates.

Red Hat Inc. (RHT) said late Wednesday its fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 44% to $23.4 million, or 12 cents a share as revenue rose 18% to $195.9 million. Outlook, however, missed analysts' expectations and shares fell 2.3% ahead of the bell.

Paychex Inc. (PAYX) said earnings declined to $112 million, or 31 cents a share, for the third fiscal quarter on lower-than-expected revenue. Results didn't meet Wall Street projections.

Raytheon Co. (RTN) said its board raised the annual dividend 21% to $1.50 a share from $1.24 a share. The company will pay a quarterly dividend of 37.5 cents a share on April 29 to shareholders of record as of April 6. Raytheon said its board also authorized an additional buyback of up to $2 billion in shares. Shares jumped over 1% in premarket trading.

Oracle Corp. (ORCL) is reporting results after the close and investors will look specifically at revenue from new software licenses. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect Oracle will earn about 38 cents per share and revenue of $6.4 billion.

Ambac Financial Group Inc. (ABK) said on Thursday it was open to seeking a negotiated restructuring of its debt through a pre-packaged bankruptcy proceeding. Its bond insurance unit will hand control of subprime mortgage-related contracts to a regulator amid concern the second-largest bond insurer's collapse would trigger losses for municipal noteholders, Bloomberg reported.

Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) announced late Wednesday it is buying French drilling analysis firm Geoservices for just over $1 billion.

Avon Products Inc. (AVP) became the second major U.S. company this week to say Venezuela's currency weakness would take a bigger bite out of earnings than originally expected due to an accounting change.

The New York Times Co. (NYT) has apologized and agreed to pay Singapore's prime minister and his two predecessors some 160,000 Singapore dollars ($114,000) for a story that listed the city-state's leaders as an Asian political dynasty.
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Markets

S&P 500 2,259.53 13.34 0.59%
DJIA 19,756.85 142.04 0.72%
NASDAQ 5,444.50 27.14 0.50%
DAX 11,203.63 24.21 0.22%
HANG SENG 22,760.98 -100.86 -0.44%
NIKKEI 225 18,996.37 230.90 1.23%
USD (per EUR) 1.06 0.00 0.05%
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JPY (per USD) 115.39 0.02 0.01%
GBP (per USD) 1.26 0.00 -0.01%

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