Stocks in the news: BHP Billiton, Macy's, Toll Brothers

The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

BHP Billiton (BHP) gave a guarded outlook for global commodity demand, sending a worrying signal for weaker rivals, after a slump in metals prices triggered its first profit decline in seven years. BHP is seen well positioned with a strong balance sheet to take advantage of any upturn. The largest mining company in the world lifted its dividend while reporting a 62 percent drop in annual profit.

Toll Brothers (TOL) said its revenue from home building fell 42 percent in the July ending quarter but that orders for new homes rose in the latest quarter from the year-ago period for the first time in roughly four years. It beat analyst revenue estimates. Shares jumped over 9.5 percent in pre-market trade.

Macy's (M) posted a second-quarter profit and beat analyst expectations despite results affected by costs for consolidations and store closings. Shares dropped about twopercent ahead of the bell.

Sara Lee (SLE) fourth-quarter net loss shrank even as sales fell 9.8 percent. Shares fell about 5.5 percent in pre-market trade.

Applied Materials (AMAT) reported that fiscal third-quarter results topped Wall Street forecasts and projected a 10 to 20 percent sequential rise in fiscal fourth-quarter revenue. Shares gained about two percent.

Liz Claiborne (LIZ) reported a deeper-than-expected quarterly loss on Wednesday as the lingering recession kept many shoppers from buying the company's clothing and accessories. Shares plunged nearly 9 percent.

In brief:
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