Stocks in the news: Hewlett-Packard, Heinz, Medtronic, Hormel Foods

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reported quarterly results Monday after the bell. There were few surprises, because the company had pre-announced them last week when it acquired 3Com, so the 14% profit rise boosted by China sales and better profit margins was mostly expected. However, H-P also announced it had tripled the size of its share repurchase program to $12 billion. Shares declined 0.8% ahead of the bell.

H.J. Heinz Co. (HNZ) posted a 14% lower quarterly profit of $231.4 million, or 73 cents, on Tuesday, hurt by sales declines in North America and Europe, but said it is optimistic about its sales momentum heading into the second half of its fiscal year and raised its full-year profit forecast. Sales rose 2.5% to $2.67 billion. On an adjusted basis, the company beat estimates on both the top and bottom line. Shares fell over 1% in pre-market trading.

Citigroup Inc. (C) agreed to sell its Diners Club North American franchise to Canadian BMO Financial Group (BMO). The acquisition would more than double BMO's corporate card business, while alleviating Citigroup of all Diners Club operations, as it sold of the company's international business to Discover Financial Services last year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Medtronic Inc. (MDT) said on Tuesday that quarterly earnings rose 59% to $868 million, or 78 cents a share, on steady demand for its devices, which protect against life-threatening heart rhythms. Medtronic beat estimates and it raised its fiscal-year forecast. Shares climbed nearly 4.5% ahead of the bell.

Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit rose to $103.9 million, or 77 cents a share as sales fell to $1.68 billion from $1.86 billion. Analysts, on average, had estimated profit of 68 cents a share in the fourth quarter and $2.60 for fiscal 2010, according to FactSet. The company also gave slightly higher forecast than expected. Shares jumped nearly 5.5% in pre-market trading.

Warner Music Group (WMG) on Tuesday reported a quarterly loss of $18 million, or 12 cents a share, due to higher interest expenses and charges for job cuts. Revenue rose 1% to $861 million. While revenue was higher than analysts' forecasts, the loss was also greater.

Merck & Co. (MRK) said it won a case in U.S. District Court involving Fosamax, an osteoporosis treatment for women past menopause.

More early earnings:

  • Zale (ZLC) posted a smaller than expected loss, shares gained over 4% ahead of the bell.
  • Barnes & Noble (BKS) posted wider loss than expected.
  • Borders (BGP) narrowed its third-quarter loss.

Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) reported late Monday a 27% decline in profit to $105.6 million, or 36 cents a share, but said that order rates accelerated in its fiscal fourth quarter. Revenue fell 13% to $572 million. Results topped analyst forecasts. ADI also forecast higher profit margins. Shares advanced some 2% in pre-market trading.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (BRCD) reported quarterly results that beat expectations on an adjusted basis. Net income slipped to $33.6 million, or 7 cents a share, but revenue rose 31% to $521.8 million. Shares fell more than 3% before the bell.

American International Group Inc.'s (AIG) executive pay restriction may be eased somewhat as the Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration's pay czar, is being pressured by federal officials to relax them for 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Analyst calls:

  • Prudential Financial (PRU) was upgraded to outperform from market perform by Wells Fargo.
  • General Electric Co.'s (GE) financial arm, GE Capital, continues to stabilize with a dramatic narrowing in losses projected for the long term that should provide a key tailwind to earnings, J.P. Morgan said in a Tuesday note to investors.
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