Stocks in the news: Lowe's, State Street, AIG

The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

Lowe's Cos. (LOW), the nation's second biggest home improvement retailer, says its first-quarter profit fell 22 percent to $476 million, or 32 cents per share, due to the housing market downturn. But the results beat Wall Street's expectations for earnings of 25 cents a share as shoppers welcomed spring with smaller, outdoor purchases. Sales dipped 2 percent to $11.83 billion, also beating Wall Street's expectation of $11.63 billion. LOW shares soared over 9 percent before the bell.

State Street (STT) is the latest banking firm announcing its plans to raise funds through common stock and senior note offerings in an effort to repay its $2 billion government loan through TARP. It expects to raise $1.45 billion from the stock offer alone. STT shares were lower in pre-market trading.

American International Group Inc. (AIG) said late Sunday it plans to spin off its Asian life insurance unit in an initial public offering to help repay billions of dollars in U.S. government loans. While details of the size are still unknown, it seems shares of American International Assurance Co., known as AIA Group, will be traded on an Asian exchange. AIA Group has more than 20 million customers and $60 billion in assets. Shares gained about 4.5 percent ahead of the bell.

Lloyds Banking Group (LYG), the part-nationalized British bank announced Sunday its chairman Victor Blank will leave in the next year. It also said shareholders who do not take up its offer to buy up to 4 billion pounds ($6.1 billion) of shares will now receive any profit made from the sale of the shares. Shares jumped 6.7 percent in pre-market trade.

General Motors (GM) is engaged in negotiating a reorganization that could increase vehicle imports from its plants in Mexico and Asia while closing factories and cutting the work force in the United States. The UAW, of course, is unhappy, especially as the administration appears to accept the proposition. Shares traded about 6.5 percent higher in pre-market action.

Toyota (TM), meanwhile, rolled out the revamped Prius on Monday, and said it already had 80,000 advance orders in Japan for the remodeled hybrid. It aims to sell up to 400,000 units globally a year of the car.

Bank of America (BAC) was upgraded to Buy from Neutral and added to the conviction buy list at Goldman Sachs. The bank may earn 25 cents a share during the second quarter, well above consensus estimates of a penny a share, Goldman said. Shares jumped 7.8 percent in pre-market trade.

Lennar Corp. (LEN) was upgraded to Buy from Hold at Citi, and the analyst also lifted his target price to $12 from $11, saying the stock trades at a roughly 50 percent discount to its peers based on price to book value. Shares gained 7.7 percent ahead of the bell.

MGM Mirage (MGM) -- Kerkorian's Tracinda agreed to raise its stake in MGM Mirage by 14.3 million shares Monday by purchasing common stock for $7 per share, according to a SEC filing. MGM shares jumped over 6 percent before the bell.

Consolidated Edison (ED) and Schering-Plough Corp. (SGP) are both scheduled to hold their annual shareholders meetings.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A) reported late Friday an increased stake in Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) by more than 12 million shares; and in Johnson & Johnson Inc. (JNJ), by nearly 4 million shares. WFC shares gained about 3.5 percent ahead of the bell.
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