Stocks in the news: Genentech, Freddie Mac, General Electric

Genentech (DNA) -- Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche said Thursday it has agreed to buy Genentech for $46.8 billion. Genentech's board approved and recommended the deal, which offers $95 per share for the 44 percent of Genentech that Roche Holding AG doesn't already own. The combined company would be the seventh-largest U.S. pharmaceutical company in terms of market share, would generate about $17 billion in annual revenues, and have around 17,500 employees in the U.S. pharmaceuticals business alone, according to Roche. DNA shares are up 2.4 percent in premarket trade.

Freddie Mac (FRE) said Wednesday it will ask the government for nearly $31 billion in additional aid to stabilize the housing market, after posting a gargantuan loss of more than $50 billion last year due to the worsening U.S. housing market. The mortgage finance company posted a loss of $23.9 billion, or $7.37 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2008 alone. FRE shares are down 5 percent in premarket trade.

General Electric (GE) shares are higher after its long-term credit ratings were lowered to AA+ from AAA by Standard & Poor's Ratings Service. This decision has been long-time coming, and it seems investors are relieved to have it over with, as well as the downgrade being by one notch only.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A), Warren Buffett's company, is said to be looking for deals in the U.S., according to a Bloomberg. Buffett believes that following the markets' decline and the declining number of potential bidders mean Berkshire Hathaway no longer needs to look overseas for acquisitions.

Hot Topic (HOTT) said its fourth-quarter profit rose to $14.2 million, or 32 cents a share, beating analyst estimates by a penny. Hot Topic projected first-quarter results in-line with estimates. HOTT shares are down 1.6 percent in premarket trade.

Bank of America's (BAC) Merrill Lynch, allegedly misled Congress regarding some $3.6 billion in bonuses despite heavy losses, The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday. Despite deciding to speed up bonuses payments, Merrill lawyers had told Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., that decisions on bonuses had not been made.

Wal-Mart Stores' (WMT) push to get rid of wilted lettuce and rotten tomatoes is paying off. Wal-Mart plans to advertise its produce in coming months to win over more customers after tidying up displays and buying foods locally. This move could be very good for Wal-Mart as groceries account for more than 40 percent of sales at Wal-Mart's U.S. stores and have outpaced the growth of most other products in the past year.

Gilead Sciences (GILD) Thursday said it signed a definitive agreement to buy CV Therapeutics (CVTX) for $20 a share in cash, or a total of $1.4 billion. CV's board has unanimously approved the deal. GILD shares are down 3.5 percent in premarket trade, CVTX shares up over 27 percent in premarket trade.

LDK Solar (LDK), a Chinese maker of silicon wafers used in solar power cells, reported a fourth-quarter loss to write down the value of its polysilicon inventory as demand slowed and prices declined. Results were below estimates. The company also slashed its forecast for 2009 sales and gross margin. Piper Jaffray and Soleil downgraded the stock to Sell. After huge recent drops, LDK is actually holding up.

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