Stocks in the news: General Mills, Citigroup, Microsoft, Ford

The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

General Mills (GIS) reported fiscal fourth-quarter this morning, posting nearly double the profit as consumers flocked toward the food maker's well-known brands such as Cheerios and Yoplait and sales rose 5 percent. The company beat bottom line estimates, although missed a bit on the sales figure. GIS gained nearly 2 percent ahead of the bell.

Citigroup (C) is selling NikkoCiti Trust and Banking Corp. to Nomura Trust and Banking Co. for 19 billion yen ($196 million) as the U.S. financial group scales back its Japan business. The deal is expected to close in October if all regulatory conditions are met. Meanwhile, Citi could again incur the public's wrath after the Financial Times reported it has increased interest rates on up to 15 million U.S. credit card accounts just months before curbs on such rises come into effect. Citi shares were up about a percent in pre-market trade.
Microsoft Corp (MSFT) launched its new search engine, Bing, only a month ago, but already, according to Internet data firm StatCounter, it has gained U.S. market share, taking 8.23 percent of U.S. Web searches in June, up from 7.81 percent for Microsoft search just before Bing. Where did that share come from? Surprisingly, it came from Google (GOOG) rather than Yahoo! (YHOO).

Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) also reported earnings this morning, saying that its fiscal first-quarter profit slid 85 percent partly on increased restructuring charges. However adjusted results beat Wall Street expectations by a penny even as sales dropped by 15 percent. Shares gained over 3 percent ahead of the bell.

Diageo (DEO), meanwhile, said it's taking further restructuring actions to its Scotland supply operations, consolidating some operations and closing others. It expects these actions will provide additional cost savings but over a longer timescale. Shares were 1.3 percent higher in pre-market trade.

Ford (F) expects to report sales declines in the 10 to 20 percent range in June, which would be the best result of the top six selling automakers in the United States, and better than the overall industry. Meanwhile, GM and Ford suspended operations on their production lines in Russia Wednesday due to tough economic conditions there. Shares of Ford gained about a percent ahead of the bell.

Sealy (ZZ) reported results after close Tuesday, swinging to a net loss before charges, but beating estimates by a penny, although sales fell more than expected. Shares plunged about 13 percent in pre-market trade.

Wal-Mart (WMT) on Tuesday backed the Obama's administration idea of requiring large companies to offer health insurance to their workers.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said it discontinued a Phase 3 colorectal cancer treatment trial because of the likelihood it would not show a statistically significant improvement in patients.

AstraZeneca (AZN) said that the European Commission has granted marketing authorization for its oral anti-cancer drug Iressa as a second-line therapy, which is used when initial treatment doesn't work.

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