Stocks in the news: Goldman Sachs, Palm, Xerox

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is due to hold a call to answer questions about its trading relationship with American International Group (AIG). GS has drawn some scrutiny after it was discovered $13 billion of the AIG's bailout money actually went to it.

Palm (PALM) reported Thursday that its net losses grew during its third fiscal quarter as the company's existing devices plunged during the quarter. Both top and bottom lines were below analyst estimates. Meanwhile, the company continues to work on the launch of its highly anticipated Pre smart phone later this year.

Xerox Corp. (XRX) slashed its first-quarter earnings target on Friday, also citing the "increasingly more challenging global economic environment." Xerox said it expects to post quarterly earnings of 3 cents to 5 cents a share, compared to its previous view of 16 cents to 20 cents a share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 18 cents a share. XRX shares are down some 8.8 percent in pre-market trade.

Sony Ericsson, the mobile phone maker joint venture of Ericsson (ERIC) and Sony (SNE) on Friday warned it expects to post a first-quarter pretax loss of as much as 390 million euro ($533 million) as it continues to be hurt by falling consumer demand. Sony Ericsson is due to release its first-quarter results on April 17. ERIC shares are down over 9 percent in pre-market trade.

3 Com Corp. (COMS) swung to fiscal third-quarter profit and excluding one-time items beat analyst estimates of 10 cents a share by 3 pennies. COMS shares are up 4 percent in pre-market trade.

Citigroup (C) named Friday CFO Gary Crittenden as chairman of its troubled banking unit Citi Holdings, and elevated Edward Kelly to replace him as CFO. Crittenden will work with Citi Holdings' CEO to sell or wind down some $850 billion in assets in the unit, including the Smith Barney brokerage. C shares are up over 9 percent in pre-market trade.

Analyst calls:

  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was upgraded by UBS from Neutral to Buy. JNJ shares are up 1.5 percent in pre-market trade.
  • Merck (MRK) was upgraded by Cowen & Co from Neutral to Outperform. MRK shares are up 1.7 percent in pre-market trade.
  • Morgan Stanley (MS) was upgraded by Argus from Hold to Buy. MS shares are up nearly 3 percent in pre-market trade.

General Electric Co. (GE) gave analyst a six-hour tour inside its GE Capital balance sheet, providing a "more sober" assessment of its earnings power during a global recession and credit crunch. GE backed its $5 billion target for GE Capital, but hedged by saying earnings would be closer to $2.5 billion if this month's economic conditions prevail for the full year. Worst case scenario, it would at least break even and wouldn't need more outside funding.

Rio Tinto Group (RTP) -- Beijing is confident a Chinese bid by state-owned Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chinalco, to invest in Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto will not be hurt by its rejection of Coca-Cola's (KO) attempt to buy a Chinese juice maker, a Cabinet official said Friday. RTP shares are up in pre-market trade.

Bank of America (BAC) provided Thursday New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo with the identities of the 200 highest-paid bonus recipients at Merrill Lynch & Co. prior to the merger with BAC after New York State Supreme Court Justice Bernard Fried denied Bank of America's request that such details be kept confidential. BAC shares are up 1 percent in pre-market trade.

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