Stocks in the news: Palm, General Mills, AutoZone, Ford

Some of the companies making headlines today:

General Mills Inc. (GIS) said Wednesday that its fiscal first-quarter profit surged 51 percent to $420.6 million, or $1.25 per share on strong demand for its products, handily beating expectations. Excluding one-time items, profit was $1.28 per share, beating estimates of $1.03 per share. Shares climbed 3.4 percent ahead of the bell.

Palm Inc. (PALM) said Wednesday that it has priced a public offering of 20 million shares at $16.25 a share. On Sept. 17 it announced a 16-million share offering. Net proceeds are expected to be about $313.1 million, which Palm said it will use for working capital and general corporate purposes.
AutoZone (AZO) said Wednesday that earnings fell 3.1 percent to $236.1 million, or $4.43 per share as its fourth quarter was one week shorter than last year and buyers shifted toward lower-margin products. Excluding items it earned $4.47 per share and managed to beat estimates of $4.45 a share. Sales rose 1 percent to just over $2.23 billion. Shares fell nearly 3 percent in pre-market trade.

Ford Motor Co. (F) will start production of a small car in India early next year, and its CEO said the U.S. market had was showing signs of recovery and he expected industry sales to rise in the next two years. Shares jumped 3 percent before the bell.

Seagate Technology (STX) sees first-quarter revenue at the high end or beyond its forecast range because of hard-disk-drive demand. Shares were upgraded by at least two firms. Shares rallied over 3.5 percent.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) are lowering fees and changing the way they debit consumer accounts, among other changes, the New York Times reported.

Siemens AG (SI) has set a mid-November deadline to former board members to reach a damages settlement on past cases of corruption, including Alcoa's (AA) current CEO Kleinfeld.

Marriott International Inc. (MAR) said Wednesday that it would take third-quarter 2009 pre-tax impairment charges of approximately $760 million associated with its timeshare segment.

Select analyst calls:
  • Citigroup cut loss estimate for Bank of America (BAC)
  • Lowe's Cos. (LOW) was upgraded to Outperform by FBR Capital Markets Wednesday.
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