Stocks in the news: Cisco, Bank of America, Comcast, Penske

Some of the companies making headlines today:

Cisco Systems (CSCO) says it has agreed to buy Tandberg ASA, a Norwegian company that makes hardware for video conferences, for $3 billion, which amounts to 153.50 kroner ($26.50) per share of Tandberg's stock, an 11 percent premium on Wednesday's closing share price.

Bank of America (BAC) president and chief executive Ken Lewis will resign by the end of the year, the Charlotte, N.C., banking giant announced after stock markets closed Wednesday. The bank did not name a successor.

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) is in talks with General Electric Co. (GE) to buy something like a 50 percent stake in NBC Universal Inc., said three people with knowledge of the discussions, according to media and website reports. Comcast denied these reports, some of which, like TheWrap, already claimed a $35 billion deal had already been completed. CMCSA shares declined nearly 3 percent in pre-market.

Penske Automotive Group (PAG) shares dropped nearly 10 percent after ending talks to buy the General Motors brand Saturn.

CIT Group Inc. (CIT) will seek board approval as soon as this week for a voluntary debt exchange that may pit bondholders against each other and leave shareholders almost wiped out. A CIT collapse would be messy, pros say.

Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) said Thursday that its September same-store sales declined 0.3 percent. Shares fell 1.8 percent ahead of the bell.

Hershey (HSY) is unlikely to bid for Cadbury (CBY), according to the Wall Street Journal. Cadbury rejected an offer from Kraft Foods (KFT).

UAL Corp. (UAUA) traded over 7 percent lower in pre-market action. UAL says it plans to offer 19 million shares and $175 million in convertible senior notes due 2029 in a pair of public offerings.

Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) said Thursday its fiscal second-quarter adjusted earnings were 54 cents as net sales fell to $1.1 billion from $1.2 billion last year. Shares jumped over 5 percent before the bell.

Citigroup (C) completed the sale of its Japanese brokerage Nikko Cordial Securities to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Corp, one more step in the bank's plan to shed non-core assets.

JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) investment bank is planning a push to win more business outside the United States by building on the group's financial ties with overseas companies, its head Jes Staley told the Financial Times.

BP (BP) made its 19th discovery in ultra-deepwater Block 31 offshore Angola. The reservoir could flow more than 5,000 barrels a day under production conditions. BP holds 26.7 percent with other oil comapnies.

Analyst calls:
  • Deutsche Bank upgraded Alcoa (AA) from Hold to Buy.
  • J.P. Morgan downgraded Leap Wireless International Inc. (LEAP) and MetroPCS Communications Inc. (PCS) to Neutral from Overweight.
  • Saks Inc. (SKS) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight by J.P. Morgan Thursday.
  • Merriman downgraded Akami (AKAM) from Neutral to Sell.
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