Stocks in the news: General Electric, AIG, Staples, Guess

General Electric (GE) is close to clearing a major hurdle in its path to sell control of entertainment giant NBC Universal to Comcast (CMCSA). GE has reached a tentative deal to buy Vivendi SA's 20% stake in NBC Universal for $5.8 billion. GE shares were 1.4% higher and Comcast's 2.3% higher in pre-market trading.

American International Inc. (AIG) on Tuesday slashed the amount of money it owes the government by $25 billion as it moved American International Assurance Co. and American Life Insurance Co. into special holding units ahead of their planned spinoff or sale. The government received preferred shares in the two worth $25 billion. Shares jumped about 5.8% ahead of the bell.
Staples (SPLS) saw its net earnings rise to $269.4 million, or 37 cents a share, in the third quarter. Excluding items, it beat analysts' estimates. Total sales fell 6% but beat estimates. Same-store sales were flat in North America after posting declines since last December. Staples also forecast a sales rise of 1 to 3% in the current quarter as trends improve at its North American retail business. Shares advanced 3.7% before the bell.

Guess Inc. (GES) posted a higher than expected quarterly profit of $64.07 million and forecast holiday season earnings above Wall Street estimates. Revenue fell to $522.8 million from $527.9 million in the year-earlier period. Shares soared 8.9% in pre-market trading.

Ford Motor Co. (F), Toyota Motor Co. (TM) and Honda Motor Co. (HMC) are likely to be in focus as they report monthly auto sales data Tuesday.

Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX) said Tuesday it has completed the elimination of all of its gold hedges and now has full leverage to the gold price on the industry's largest gold production and reserves. Shares were 2% higher ahead of the bell.

Boeing Co. (BA) subjected the 787 Dreamliner to a crucial load test Monday that it hopes will prove earlier modifications to the plane's airframe will withstand the highest loads expected in service.

Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) announced a public offering of 5 million shares of its common stock on Tuesday.

State Street Corp. (STT) said Tuesday it is acquiring Mourant International Finance Administration as it looks to expands its global fund administration and alternative servicing operations. Terms of the cash deal were not disclosed. Shares advanced over 1.5% in pre-market trading.

Broadcom Corp. (BRCM) signed a definitive agreement to buy Dune Networks, a privately held developer of switch fabric solutions, for about $178 million.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said it would acquire the worldwide marketing rights to Protalix BioTherapeutics Inc's (PLX) experimental drug for Gaucher's disease for an upfront payment of $60 million. PLX shares sank 8.8% in pre-market trading.

Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) is favored to take over Cadbury Plc. (CBY), despite interest from Hershey Co. (HSY) and Ferrero, and talk of involvement by Nestle SA, said analyst Andrew Wood at Sanford Bernstein.

Saks Inc. (SKS) saw its outlook upgraded to stable from negative by Standard & Poor's, but S&P also affirmed the company's B- corporate credit rating. Shares climbed 2.3% before the bell.

Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGSI) announced plans Monday for a common stock offering. Shares fell 3% ahead of the bell.

Analyst calls:
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