Stocks in the news: Ford, Palm, Del Monte Foods

The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

Ford Motor Co. (F) -- Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. is reportedly considering buying Ford's Volvo unit. The Chinese automaker would be one of three or four companies that have expressed interested in Volvo. Ford said last year that it wants to sell the unit so that it can focus its efforts on three core brands: Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. Ford acquired Volvo in 1999 for $6.45 billion from Volvo AB.

Palm (PALM) announced that Jon Rubinstein, a former executive behind Apple's iPod, will become chairman and CEO, replacing Ed Colligan, who is leaving after 16 years. Shares gained over 3 percent after the move was announced.

Del Monte Foods Co. (DLM) said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit climbed 42 percent on increased pricing and lower taxes. The company topped earnings expectation and said it expects 2010 earnings to also come above estimates. DLM shares climbed over 9 percent ahead of the bell.

National Semiconductor (NSM) will report quarterly results after the close.

Vulcan Materials (VMC) said it was cutting its quarterly dividend nearly in half, selling 11.5 million shares and forecast fiscal-year earnings below Wall Street estimates. Shares fell 7 percent before the bell.

Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWR) on Thursday warned its second-quarter earnings will be below previous expectations after a decline in railroad traffic.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley. Shares jumped 3 percent in pre-market trade.

Bank of America (BAC) CEO Ken Lewis is due to testify before lawmakers about the government's role in ensuring that the bank complete its controversial merger with Merrill Lynch. New e-mails show the Federal Reserve strong-armed BofA into completing the deal last year. Keefe Bruyette upgraded BAC from Market Perform to Outperform. Shares were up 1 percent ahead of the bell.

Level 3 Communications Inc. (LVLT) shares soared over 17 percent Wednesday after a report that the company's long-distance business could be combined with Sprint Nextel Corp.'s (S) network in a joint venture. The companies held preliminary talks according to The Wall Street Journal. This morning LVLT shares declined 4.5 percent ahead of the bell.
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