Stocks in the news: Coca-Cola, Merck, Caterpillar, General Motors

Merck & Co. (MRK) on Tuesday posted a 57 percent drop in first-quarter profit, recording earnings per share of 74 cents excluding items and falling short of expectations of 77 cents a share. The company blamed drop in sales of its drugs and loss of income from its partnership on cholesterol medicines. MRK opened down over 7 percent.

Coca-Cola Co. (KO) said its first-quarter profit fell 10 percent on restructuring charges and write-downs but the results met analysts' estimates despite the challenging economic environment. Coca-Cola's net income excluding items was $1.51 billion, or 65 cents per share, which met the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. KO shares were a little higher in the first minutes of trade.

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) reported a first-quarter loss compared with a year-ago profit, hurt by a big charge for layoffs and sharp sales declines across the globe. Excluding one-time items, Caterpillar would have earned 39 cents per share, and revenue dropped 22 percent to $9.22 billion, but both handily beat Wall Street expectations of a profit of 4 cents per share on revenue of $8.54 billion. CAT shares declined some 5 percent near the open.

DuPont (DD) says its first-quarter profit dropped on declining demand. Profit fell to $488 million, or 54 cents per share, while revenue fell 17 percent to $7.27 billion. Analysts expected profit of 52 cents per share on revenue of $7.74 billion. DD shares declined 1.5 percent after the open.

United Technologies Corp. (UTX) reported a 27.8 percent fall in quarterly profit as a slumping economy crimped demand for its jet engines and air conditioners. Revenue fell 12.2 percent. UTX expects to return to profit growth in 2010, its CFO said. UTX shares gained over 5 percent in the first few minutes of trade.

General Motors (GM) -- The Obama administration will make up to $5 billion available through May to help GM restructure outside of bankruptcy, and about $500 million to Chrysler LLC through the end of this month as it seeks to reach an alliance with Fiat, and an independent oversight report on the Treasury Department's corporate rescue fund said on Tuesday. GM shares were 3.6 percent higher a little after the open.

Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit is trying to hang on and will strive to convince investors that the company is on the road to recovery amid fresh questions over his future at the financial group. Senior officials at the FDIC privately discussed who might replace Pandit if the bank needed more government aid. C shares declined 3.6 percent a little after the open.

Broadcom Corp (BRCM) said it made an unsolicited bid for storage-equipment maker Emulex Corp. (ELX) with an equity value of $764 million, or $9.25 a share. BRCM shares plunged over 10 percent after the open.

International Business Machines (IBM) quarterly revenue fell by a bigger-than-expected 11 percent, but profit beat Wall Street projections. While the slowdown in corporate spending hurt IBM's sales, improved margins following layoffs and a shift to more profitable services and software products helped its bottom line. IBM also said it was more confident about its full-year outlook now than it was last quarter.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) posted a slightly smaller profit of $984 million or 81 cents per share on a decline in investment income and higher costs. Revenue rose to 8.4 percent to $22 billion. Earnings still topped analyst expectations of 68 cents per share on revenue of $21.37 billion. UNH shares gained 1.5 percent after the open.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) said its first-quarter profit dropped an unexpectedly steep 57 percent to $676 million, or 59 cents per share (excluding items) and that it was slashing its dividend to shore up capital. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 63 cents per share. Its shares fell more than 8 percent in premarket trading. BK shares dropped over 10 percent after the open.

Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) posted weaker results that topped estimates Monday after the close. TXN shares were up 2.5 percent after the open.

Yahoo (YHOO) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are scheduled to report quarterly results after the closing bell today.

Many more companies are reporting earnings today. Check out AOL's earnings page.

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