Stocks in the News: BP, Visa, Blockbuster

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

BP (BP) tried another way to block the massive oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico early Friday, threading a small tube into the jagged pipe that is pouring the oil. The tube will be surrounded by a stopper to keep oil from gushing into the sea; the stopper could be in place later Friday, BP said. The plan is for the tube to siphon the oil to a tanker at the surface. Meanwhile, scientists and environmentalists believe the U.S. government has grossly underestimated the flow of oil gushing from the well. BP shares dropped 3% in premarket trading.

Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) may see some pressure today after the U.S. Senate approved an amendment that would empower the Federal Reserve to impose limits on debit-card fees collected by the biggest banks as part of the financial overhaul bill, Bloomberg reports. The credit card companies set interchange rates and pass the fees along to card-issuing banks. Visa shares slid some 5% and MA shares over 4% in premarket action.

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) said Friday that its first-quarter profit more than doubled to $60 million, or 25 cents a share. Sales rose 1.2% to $3.93 billion. Results and outlook were generally inline with analyst estimates.

Nordstrom (JWN) reported results after the close Thursday, saying that strengthening consumer spending helped push earnings up 44% in the first quarter to $116 million, or 52 cents per share. Revenue rose nearly 17% to $2.09 billion. But even as revenues topped analyst estimates, earnings failed to meet them. Shares fell 2.6% ahead of the bell.

Mizuho Financial Group
(MFG) returned to profit last year, posting earnings of 239.4 billion yen ($2.6 billion). Separately, Mizuho said it would issue new shares to raise up to 800 billion yen ($8.6 billion) over the next year.

Blockbuster Inc. (BBI) posted a first-quarter loss as revenue continued to drop partly because of competition with Netflix Inc. (NFLX). CEO Jim Keyes said Blockbuster has had "encouraging" talks with investors and potential "strategic partners" that might help the company avoid having to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection, according to the AP. BBI shares tanked 12% before the bell.

Ford's (F) CEO Alan Mulally told shareholders that the company will see "continuing improvement" into 2011 and will be "solidly profitable" in 2010, but wouldn't say when the company might reinstate a dividend.

Nvidia (NVDA) swung to profit in its fiscal first-quarter of $137.6 million, or 23 cents a share. Revenue rose to $1 billion from $664.2 million for the same quarter the previous year. Results beat estimates, but the company's revenue expectations for the current quarter were below estimates. Shares were 3.75% lower in after-hours trading.

Daimler AG (DAI) said Friday it will pull its shares from the New York Stock Exchange because of low trading volumes and changing investor behavior.
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