Stocks in the news: Hershey, Goldman Sachs, Delta Air Lines, Chico's

Hershey Co. (HSY) and Italian chocolate maker Ferrero SpA said they're reviewing their options about making a joint bid for Cadbury Plc. (CBY) after it was approached by Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT). For their potential offer to succeed, it would have to be higher than Kraft's unsolicited offer of 10.3 billion pounds ($17 billion).

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) said it is launching a $500 million small-business assistance program that includes an advisory panel with billionaire investor Warren Buffett. On Tuesday, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein apologized for his firm's role in the credit crisis.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) and its SkyTeam alliance partners intend to offer Japan Airlines Corp. $1.02 billion in funding to lure the troubled carrier away from rival American Airlines (AMR) and the Oneworld alliance.

BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. (BJ) saw its fiscal third-quarter profit fall to $17.7 million, or 32 cents a share. The company was hurt by falling food prices and lackluster demand for its general merchandise. Sales rose 2% to $2.45 billion. Comparable club sales fell 2.5%, but were negatively affected by gasoline sales. On an adjusted basis, BJ's matched estimates. Shares declined over 2% after the open of trade.

Ford (F), Subaru and Volkswagen (VLKAY) are at the top of insurance industry's annual list of the safest new vehicles. Ford and its Volvo unit received the most awards. F shares were up about 1% a little after the opening bell.

Chico's FAS Inc. (CHS) said Wednesday its profit grew in the third quarter, helped by strong sales at both its White House Black Market and Chico's/Soma stores. Shares soared over 8% in pre-market trading. (CRM) reported results Tuesday after the close, meeting analysts' estimates on third-quarter earnings. Shares fell nearly 5% by 10:00 a.m. as the company said it intends to keep hiring.

Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) on Tuesday forecast a soft operating-margin when it reported quarterly results. It posted lower earnings and revenue in the third quarter. Shares dropped nearly 10% half an hour after the open.

S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. will battle Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) in a bid to buy Sara Lee Corp.'s (SLE) air-freshener business, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. The deal price for the unit could reach more than $700 million, the report said.

Vivus Inc. (VVUS) said on Wednesday its erectile dysfunction drug met the goals of a Phase 3 trial, and was shown to be effective in 30 minutes or less. Shares jumped over 12% ahead of the bell.

Select analyst calls:

  • Target (TGT) was downgraded to neutral from the America's conviction buy list at Goldman Sachs.
  • Reynolds (RAI) was upgraded to neutral at J.P. Morgan
  • J.P. Morgan upgraded UST Inc. (UST) to neutral and raised the price target to $57 from $47 a share.
  • BMO Capital Markets downgraded Research in Motion (RIMM) from outperform to market perform and lowered the target price from $100 to $64.
  • Citigroup upgraded Pulte Homes (PHM) from hold to buy.
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