Stocks in the News: Honeywell, Rite Aid, SAIC

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

Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) made a $3 billion takeover bid for Australia's Macarthur Coal Ltd., but the Australian company said Wednesday its board of directors belive Peabody undervalued the company. BTU shares fell about 1.5% in premarket trade, while shares in Macarthur surged more than 16% on the Australian stock market, likely as investors are betting Peabody will bid higher.

Honeywell (HON) upped its first-quarter outlook following stronger orders and sales as well as cost controls. Shares rose 2.3% ahead of the bell.

SAIC (SAI), on the other hand, warned on a slower-than-anticipated pace of new contract awards as well as tougher government contracting environment. Wells Fargo also downgraded it from outperform to market perform. Shares dropped 5.1% in premarket trading.

Rite Aid (RAD) reported a fourth quarter loss of 24 cents per share, 5 cents worse than the analyst estimate. Revenue for the quarter was $6.5 billion, slightly above estimates $6.49 billion. Same-store sales fell 2.4% and the company guided below estimates. Shares sank over 8% in premarket trading.

Research In Motion (RIMM) and Micron Technology (MU) are due to report quarterly results after the close.

Dollar General (DG) said Wednesday its fourth-quarter earnings rose 6.5% to $87.2 million, or 26 cents a share as sales grew by 12% to $3.2 billion. On an adjusted basis DG earned 51 cents a share, topping analyst estimates. Dollar General also said it expects sales to climb between 8% to 10% and that it plans to open 600 new stores.

Ford Motor Co. (F) is hosting an analyst call to discuss general business issues.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) on Wednesday announced a new strategic alliance that will use Isis' antisense drug discovery platform to seek new treatments for rare and serious disease involving up to six programs. Isis will receive an upfront payment of $35 million in cash and possible payments totaling nearly $1.5 billion.

Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) on Wednesday announced it agreed to develop blood sugar monitoring systems with AgaMatrix, a privately held U.S. firm. It also said it would invest 150 million euros ($201.4 million) over four years to build up its biotechnology manufacturing capacities in France.

JoS A Bank Clothiers (JOSB) said its fiscal year profit rose 22% to $71.2 million, or $3.84 a share, as sales rose 10.7% to $770.3 million. Results far exceeded analyst expectations.

Google Inc. (GOOG) says it has found another case of cyberattacks being used to suppress political dissent, this time in Vietnam, which according to security firm McAfee may be linked to Vietnam's Communist government. Meanwhile, disruptions suffered by Google's Chinese search service is likely to drive users and advertisers in the mainland away, analysts say.

Tower Group (TWGP) estimated Wednesday that its total net losses resulting from the Northeast U.S. storm from march 13 to march 15 will be in the range of $7.2 million to $9.1 million, or 16 cents to 20 cents a share.

Sealy Corp. (ZZ) reported its first-quarter net income rose 33% to $5.7 million. On a per-share basis, however, the company's profit slid to 3 cents from 5 cents a year ago as outstanding shares swelled. Revenue increased 6% to $339.6 million. Shares fell 3.8% before the bell.

Total SA (TOT), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS.B) and Chevron Corp. (CVX) may struggle to unload their excess refining capacity in Europe this year as profits from turning crude into fuel stay depressed due to reduced demand following the recession, Bloomberg reports.

Apple (AAPL) was initiated with outperform, as was Research in Motion (RIMM) at Exane BNP Paribas, which gave a $300 and $90 price targets, respectively.
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