Stocks in the news: Walt Disney, AutoNation, Constellation Energy

The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) posted a 26 percent plunge in quarterly earnings late Thursday. While it managed to beat Wall Street estimates by the proverbial penny, the results underline the continued effects of the recession on the entertainment company. Disney was also hit by a downgrade from JPMorgan to Underweight from Neutral and set a December 2010 price target on Disney shares of $22. DIS shares declined over 3 percent in pre-market trade.

Ford Motor Co. (F), the Wall Street Journal reports, "has slowed the bidding process for its Volvo unit in an effort to get a better price for the Swedish car brand, according to a person close to the U.S. company." Ford will wait until GM sells it Open unit before starting the bidding on Volvo again, a source told the WSJ.

AutoNation Inc. (AN) shares declined about 3 percent ahead of the bell after the nation's largest auto dealership chain reported Friday that its second-quarter profit fell 29 percent as consumers bought fewer cars in a stressed economy. However, new vehicle sales are likely to improve due to the "Cash for Clunkers" program. AutoNation beat analyst earnings estimate of 24 cents a share by 5 cents, but missed on the top line as new vehicle sales declined 38 percent in the quarter.

Dominion Resources (D) said Friday operating earnings rose to $406 million, or 68 cents a share from $289 million, or 50 cents per share for the same period a year ago. Revenue rose to $3.45 billion from $3.4 billion. Earnings figures were above analyst estimates, but Dominion's third quarter guidance was below. Shares gained 2 percent.

Bank of America (BAC), CNBC reported "plans to set up a wholly owned subsidiary in China to expand in the world's fastest-growing major economy, people briefed on the plan said."

Constellation Energy Group Inc (CEG) reported better-than-expected quarterly results helped by strong margins in its wholesale and retail businesses, and increased its earnings forecast for the full year 2009. Adjusted earnings for the quarter was $1.08 a share, much higher than the 76 cents a share estimate. It also beat on the top line. Shares gained over 5 percent.

Chevron (CVX) said Friday its second-quarter net income fell by 71 percent to $1.75 billion, or 87 cents a share, from $5.98 billion, or $2.90 a share in the year-ago period. Foreign-currency effects reduced earnings by $453 million. As the numbers just came out, it looks like the 87 cents is the comparable number to analyst estimates of 93 cents a share, meaning Chevron missed.

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