Stocks in the news: Oracle, Google, Sepracor, Costco, Hovanian, Ciena

Some of the companies making headlines today:

Oracle Corp. (ORCL) has one last obstacle before it can complete the $7.4 billion takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA) after the deal has been cleared in the United States. as European Union regulators on Thursday launched an antitrust probe into Oracle's takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA), saying the deal could mean higher prices and limited choice for database software.

Sepracor Inc. (SEPR) is being acquired by Japanese drug company Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co. for about $2.6 billion as the latter aims to expand in the U.S. market. Dainippon will pay $23 per share, a 27.6 percent premium over Sepracor's closing price Tuesday, but as reports came out late during the trading session Wednesday, the stocks was halted at 2:18 PM, up over 26 percent.
Google Inc. (GOOG)'s YouTube may get into the movie rental business. The Wall Street Journal reports YouTube is in discussions with major movie studios such as Sony (SNE), Time Warner (TWX) and and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp (LGF) about streaming movies on a rental basis. These newer title rentals are likely to be around $3.99, the same price Apple Inc. (AAPL) charges on iTunes.

Some chain stores' August retail sales:
  • Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) reported a 2 percent decline in August same-store sales, beating analyst estiamtes for a drop of 5.7 percent. Shares jumped over 4.5 percent ahead of the bell.
  • Limited Brands (LTD)'s same-store sales fell 4 percent, better than estimates of a 5.9 percent decline.

Hovanian Enterprises (HOV) reported a $169 million loss on a 46 percent sales decline. Shares dropped over 10 percent in pre-market trading.

Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ) shares gained soared 15 percent ahead of the bell after it reported same-store sales decline wasn't as steep as had been anticipated and after three analyst upgrades.

Quanta Services (PWR) will acquire privately held Price Gregory Services, a natural gas and oil transmission pipeline infrastructure service provider in North America for about $350 million in cash and stock.

Pilgrim's Pride (PGPDQ) -- Brazilian meat producer JBS SA will also reportedly make a $2.5 billion bid for the Texas company, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ciena Corp. (CIEN) said Thursday that it swung to a loss $26.5 million, or 29 cents a share, in its fiscal third quarter as revenues fell by 66 percent. On an adjusted basis, the Linthicum, Md.-based networker lost 5 cents a share, better than the 14 cents a share loss analysts had projected. Shares jumped 10 percent before the bell.

Abbott Labs (ABT) said it agreed to buy optical device maker Visiogen Inc. for $400 million in cash.

SAIC Inc. (SAI) barely beat analyst earnings estimates even as revenue rose 8 percent.

Yahoo Inc. (YHOO)'s Chief Accounting Officer Michael Murray is leaving the company later this month, according to a regulatory filing

Bank of America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC) said on Wednesday they will accept IOUs issued by California's state government to preserve its dwindling cash during its budget crisis.

Novartis (NVS) said its swine flu gave a strong immune response even after one dose in a pilot trial.

Analyst calls:
  • Apple Inc. (AAPL) was initiated with an Outperform at William Blair.
  • Deere Co. (DE) was downgraded at JP Morgan to Underweight from Neutral and the price target cut from $42 to $39.
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