Stocks in the news: Travelers, AT&T, McDonald's, Microsoft

Shares of Travelers Cos. (TRV) shot up more than 4 percent in pre-market action after the insurance giant Thursday reported a much higher third quarter profit, earning $935 million, or $1.65 a share. Per-share earnings far exceeded a consensus estimate of $1.30 a share, according to a poll of 15 analysts by Zacks.com. The company credited fewer losses from national disasters as part of the reason for the boost in profit. Last year, the Minneapolis-based company earned $214 million, or 36 cents a share, in the third quarter. Travelers also declared a 10 percent increase in its regular quarterly dividend and committed to buy back an additional $6 billion in shares.

AT&T (T) reported lower earnings as more and more Americans hang up on landline phone service. The nation's largest communications company reported it earned $3.19 billion, down 1.2 percent from $3.23 billion a year ago. On a per-share basis, AT&T earned 54 cents a share, a penny less than last year. AT&T, which provides cellular phone service for Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) popular iPhone, said it added more than 2 million new wireless subscribers in the quarter, well surpassing expectations. Shares of AT&T were higher in extended hours trading, up more than 3 percent.