Stocks in the news: WellPoint, ArcelorMittal, Ford, Visa

WellPoint Inc. (WLP) said Wednesday its third-quarter profit fell 11 percent to $730.2 million, or $1.53 per share, as enrollment in employer-sponsored insurance plans continued to slip as more U.S. workers lost their jobs, causing revenue to fall less than 1 percent to $15.21 billion. Excluding items, WellPoint missed analyst forecasts.

ArcelorMittal SA (MT) on Wednesday posted a 76 percent decline in profit to $903 million, its first profit after three consecutive quarterly losses, as it saw the first signs of a gradual recovery in demand. Sales fell by more than half to $16.18 billion. The company says it expects higher shipments and steel prices in the fourth quarter. Shares fell about 2 percent ahead of the bell.
Ford Motor Co. (F) narrowed talks on the sale of its Volvo Car unit to one bidder, a group led by China's Geely Group.

SAP AG (SAP) reported a less-than-expected 12 percent increase in third-quarter profit and cut its sales outlook for the second time this year as clients in emerging markets and Japan spent less than it anticipated, sending its stock to the biggest drop in a year. Shares dropped over 7.5 percent in premarket.

Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q) Wednesday reported a 6 percent drop in third-quarter profit to $136 million, or 8 cents per share, as customers continue to give up traditional landline telephones. Excluding items, the company would have earned 9 cents, beating expectations for earnings of 7 cents per share. Shares gained over 2 percent.

Visa (V) reported late Tuesday that it increased top-line sales by 10 percent in the fourth quarter, and expanded per-share profit by 28 percent to 74 cents, excluding certain items, beating forecasts for 72 cents per share. It also announced a $1 billion share buyback.

General Dynamics Corp (GD) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday as strength in defense sales helped offset weakness in business jets and increased full year guidance.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) said Wednesday that third-quarter earnings were $72 million, or 30 cents a share on sales of $4.39 billion, below estimates for earnings per share of 36 cents and sales of $4.32 billion.
ConocoPhillips (COP) said Wednesday that its third-quarter net income dropped 71 percent to $1.5 billion, or $1.00 a share, better than expectations for earnings 95 cents a share.

Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) shares tumbled 15 percent in premarket after the company said the SEC had launched an "informal inquiry" into its revenue accounting practices.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) posted a 30 percent higher profit of 1.34 billion pounds ($2.19 billion), or 26.1 pence a share. Sales rose 15 percent to 6.76 billion pounds, beating estimates for profit of 1.19 billion pounds on sales of 6.76 billion pounds.

Select analyst calls: Target (TGT) was upgraded to Buy from Sell at Citi, which hiked its price target to $61 from $44, citing improving same-store-sales trends and productivity improvements. Citi also upgraded AK Steel Holding Corp. (AKS) to Buy from Hold and target price raised to $21 from $17.

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