Stocks in the News: Apple, SandRidge, Tesoro

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

Apple Inc. (AAPL) launched its new tablet computer -- the iPad -- this weekend. Already analysts are saying Apple probably sold more than twice as many iPads in its debut weekend as some analysts estimated, Bloomberg reported. The iPad's initial sales may have reached 700,000 units, Piper Jaffray & Co.'s Gene Munster said. At 8:30 a.m. Eastern Apple announced it sold over 300,000 iPads in the U.S. as of midnight Saturday, April 3. That's just in one day.

SandRidge Energy Inc. (SD) is buying fellow oil & gas developer Arena Resources Inc. (ARD) for $1.57 billion in a cash and stock deal that values Arena shares at $40 per share -- a 17% premium to Friday's closing price. The companies said that the continued drop in natural gas prices drives a bigger focus on oil resources. SD shares fell around 4% ahead of the bell, ARD's jumped some 10%.

Google Inc. (GOOG) announced it is buying Episodic, its fifth acquisition so far this year. Episodic is a startup that provides a platform for streaming live video on the Web. The technology could help YouTube users showing live videos, a recently growing demand. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

J. Crew Group Inc.'s (JCG) corporate credit rating was raised to BB+ from BB by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, which also revised the outlook to stable from positive.

Oracle's (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison topped The New York Times' list of highest-paid CEOs with an $84.5 million compensation package in 2009 the paper calculated from proxy material. His pay was far greater than the next CEO's pay of $33 million Boston Scientific's (BSX) received.

Washington Post Co. (WPO) may be the most undervalued U.S. media company, and its stock could be worth double where it trades now, Barron's said in its April 5 edition. Shares climbed some 3.4% before the bell.

Tesoro Corp. (TSO) said three people died and several were critically injured in a fire at the company's refinery in Anacortes, Wash., on Friday. Deutsche Bank downgraded Tesoro to hold following the fire and lowered its price target for shares to $15 from $18.Shares dropped over 4% in premarket trading.

Entergy Corp. (ETR) said it'll book charges of 40 to 45 cents a share as it moves to scrap its plan to spin off its Enexus nuclear power unit.

Walgreen (WAG) is due to report March sales.

Analyst calls:
  • Apple's price target was boosted from $235 to $295 at Kaufman Bros; from $240 to $305 at JPMorgan; and from $250 to $300 at Canaccord.
  • Alcoa (AA) was downgraded from buy to hold at Deutsche Bank and its target lowered to $18 from $25.
  • Taser (TASR) was downgraded by JPMorgan to from neutral to underweight and its target cut to $6 from $7.50. Shares dropped over 2% in premarket trading.
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