Stocks in the news: Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, 3Com, GE, United Tech

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) reported a 3.2% increase in third-quarter profit, helped by inventory controls and other cost-cutting measures. Third-quarter profit was 84 cents a share, above Bloomberg's analyst estimates for profit of 81 cents. Wal-Mart also upped its full-year profit above estimates, but fourth-quarter guidance barely matched projections. Sales grew by just 1% while same-store sales fell by 0.4% in the quarter. Wal-Mart shares slid in pre-market trading.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) announced late Wednesday that it is acquiring networking company 3Com (COMS) for $2.7 billion. The $7.90 a share in cash 3Com shareholders will receive is at a 39% premium to Wednesday's closing price. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2010. 3Com shares soared over 33% in pre-market trading.