Stocks in the News: United-Continental, Loews, Goldman

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

Loews Corp (L) reported Monday it swung to a profit in the first quarter, earning 99 cents per share, and beating estimates of 96 cents per share as revenue jumped 28% to $3.71 billion.

Goldman Sachs (GS) got a vote of confidence this weekend from none other than Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) owns preferred shares in the investment bank. Buffett doesn't believe Goldman acted improperly. GS shares were 1.8% higher in premarket trading.

United Airlines (UAUA) and Continental Airlines (CAL) said on Monday they're forming the world's largest airline -- United Continental Holdings Inc. -- in a deal worth about $3 billion. The airline will be run by current Continental CEO Jeffery Smisek. United CEO Glenn Tilton will be chairman for up to two years. The combined airline will have revenue of about $29 billion. By merging, the companies will save $1 billion to $1.2 billion a year by 2013. UAL Corp. shareholders will own 55% of the merged company, and Continental shareholders, who will get 1.05 UAL shares in exchange for each one of theirs, will own the rest.

Vale (VALE) announced late Sunday it has agreed to sell its key Brazilian mining assets to Norsk Hydro, Europe's third-largest steel producer, in a $4.9 billion deal. Vale will receive $1.1 billion in cash and a 22% stake in Hydro in exchange for 60% of Paragominas, a large bauxite plant, 57% of Alunorte, a large alumina refining plant, and other assets.

Anadarko Petroleum (APC), Clorox (CLX), McKesson Corp. (MCK) and PSEG (PEG) are all due to report earnings before the opening bell.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is shutting down its newly bought Lala online music service amid speculation it is creating a way for iTunes customers to listen to songs stored on distant computers. Meanwhile, Apple analyst at Piper Jaffray, Gene Munster, estimates in a note to investors Sunday Apple sold about 300,000 iPad 3G units, including preorders, over the device's first weekend of sales.

BP PLC's (BP) chairman of the U.S. subsidiary on Sunday blamed failed equipment on a drilling rig for the oil-well blowout and subsequent huge leak into the Gulf of Mexico that now poses a threat of unparalleled ecological disaster. He also said that he doesn't know when the well will be capped, but that a concrete dome could be placed over it within the next week. Shares fell another 1.8% ahead of the bell.

Sysco (SYY) reported third quarter earnings of 41 cents per share, beating estimates by a penny. Revenue for the quarter was $8.95 billion, better than estimates of $8.75 billion. The CEO said conditions are improving. Shares jumped 4.6% before the bell.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) said it received the FDA's complete-response letter regarding its belatacept drug for people who've received kidney transplants. The FDA is seeking 36-month data from continuing Phase III studies. BMY shares fell 1.2% in premarket trades.
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