Stocks in the news: Aetna, TiVo, Hovanian

The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

Toll Brothers (TOL) lost $83.2 million, or 52 cents a share. While it was a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss, the luxury builder also said it would not give earnings outlook due to several uncertainties related to its business.

Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) late Tuesday said it lost $118.6 million, which was narrower compared to the same quarter last year. The homebuilder benefited from efforts to cut debt and had fewer write-offs and impairments. Shares declined over 2 percent before the bell.
Aetna (AET) late Tuesday cut its 2009 earnings outlook, citing higher projected medical costs for its commercial business serving employers and lower revenue fromits Medicare plans for seniors. Shares dropped over 8 percent in pre-market trade.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. (WSM) reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss of $18.7 million, or 18 cents per share, on Wednesday, helped by lower inventory and reduced spending, but its shares fell as it maintained its full-year forecast because of the uncertain economy. Shares declined about 2 percent ahead of the bell.

TiVo Inc. (TIVO) -- a federal court rejected a patent workaround by EchoStar Corp. (SATS), ordering the enforcement of a permanent injunction. U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Texas also awarded an additional $103 million to TiVo. DISH Network Corp. (DISH) and Echostar said they were disappointed in the decision and will appeal. TIVO shares skyrocketted over 46 percent in pre-market trade. DISH declined over 5 percent.

essera Technologies Inc (TSRA) said Motorola (MOT) signed an agreement to license its technology and settle all outstanding litigation between the companies. TSRA shares soared nearly 11 percent ahead of the bell.

Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), whose future will be discussed at a hearing held by a House Financial Services subcommittee.

Analyst calls:
  • Apple Inc. (AAPL) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Collins Stewart, which also upgraded eBay Inc. (EBAY) from Hold to Buy.
  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) was initiated at Robert W. Baird with Outperform and a price target of $60. The broker also initiated several other retailers, including Costco (COST), Target (TGT), Lowes (LOW) and Home Depot (HD) -- all at Outperform excpet for Costco at Neutral.
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