Stocks in the news: Alcoa, PepsiCo, Marriott

Some of the companies making headlines today:

Alcoa (AA) unofficially kicked off earnings season late Wednesday, being the first of the Dow industrials to report results. It said it earned $77 million, or 8 cents per share in the quarter. Though it was 70% lower that last year's earnings, it was better than expectations. Alcoa also forecast 11 percent growth in global aluminum demand in the second half of 2009, largely on the back of robust growth in China. AA shares jumped 6% in pre-market trading.

PepsiCo (PEP) said Thursday that its fiscal third-quarter profit rose 9 percent to $1.72 billion, or $1.09 per share, in part on cost-control efforts, even as revenue dropped 1 percent to $11.08 billion on weak beverage sales. Analysts expected profit of $1.03 per share.
Marriott (MAR) said it lost $466 million, or $1.31 a share, after earning $94 million in the year-earlier quarter, as revenue dropped 17 percent to $2.47 billion. Excluding items, it would have earned 15 cents a share, above the 13-cents a share analysts expected. MAR shares fell about 2 percent ahead of the bell.

IBM (IBM) will be in focus as the DOJ opened an antitrust inquiry into its mainframe business.

Dell (DELL) said late Wednesday that it was closing a plant and cutting 905 jobs. It also said it plans to launch a smartphone with Google's (GOOG) Android mobile software on AT&T's (T) network, according to sources said, marking its first foray into the cellphone arena.

Starbucks Corp (SBUX) is suing a former executive it accuses of violating non-competition and separation agreements when he went to work for rival Dunkin' Donuts.

Retail sales:
  • Target Corp. (TGT) said Thursday that its September same-store sales fell 1.7 percent. Analysts, on average, had expected same-store sales to fall 2.0 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • J. C. Penney Company Inc (JCP) said Thursday September same-store sales fell 1.4 percent, better than the Wall Street estimate of a decline of 3.5 percent.
  • Macy's Inc (M) said Thursday that its September same-store sales fell 2.3 percent. Analysts, on average, had expected same-store sales to fall 4.6 percent.
L-3 Communications (LLL) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs due to revenue pressures that could lead to a disappointing 2010 outlook. Shares dropped 2.5 percent in pre-market.
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