Stocks in the News: Abbott Labs, J&J, Xerox

Some of the companies making headlines today:

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) said Monday it has agreed to buy Solvay Group's drug business for 4.5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in an all-cash deal. The deal gives Illinois-based Abbott full control of Solvay Pharmaceutical's cholesterol treatments and exposure to emerging markets. The purchase will bring Abbott more than $3 billion in annual sales, it said.

In another drug deal, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) agreed Monday to buy an 18 percent stake in Dutch drug maker Crucell (CRXL) for 301.8 million euros ($440 million) as part of a deal to develop flu vaccines. J&J said the pact is expected to dilute current-year earnings by 2 cents to 4 cents a share. The companies will also work together to develop up to three vaccines or antibodies against both infectious and non-infectious diseases.
Xerox (XRX) agreed to buy Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) for $6.4 billion in stock and cash, expanding the famed copier company's outsource and data-management business. Xerox will pay $18.60 in cash and 4.935 Xerox shares for each share of ACS, totaling $63.11 a share based on Friday's closing price, the companies said in a statement on Monday. Shares of Xerox headed lower in pre-market trading, while shares in ACS rose.

Bank of America (BAC) has "suspended current commitments" to Acorn Housing, an affiliate of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The banker "will not enter into any further agreements with Acorn or any of its affiliates," pending assessments of the organization's operations, the paper quoted a Bank of America spokesman as saying. Acorn is under fire since the recent release of covert videos showing Acorn employees offering inappropriate advice on taxes and other matters.

Select analyst calls:
  • Merriman initiated coverage of Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR) at Neutral and Facet Biotech (FACT) at Buy.
  • Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (JOSB) was downgraded to Hold by Argus
  • Citigroup raised Accenture (ACN), Duke Realty (DRE) and Applied Materials (AMAT) to Buy and reduced MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) to Hold
  • Barclays Capital initiated coverage of Navistar International (NAV) at Equal Weight and upgraded Cisco Systems (CSCO) rating to Overweight
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