Stocks in the news: Costco, AOL, Citigroup, Ciena

Of stocks in focus, Costco (COST) posted a slight increase in fiscal-first quarter earnings to $266 million, or 60 cents per share. After beings helped by steady sales of food and everyday items to recession-weary consumers, Costco says it has recently seen purchases of some nonfood items rise slightly. Sales rose 6% to $17.3 billion and same-store sales rose 3%. Last quarter, sales fell 5%. Earnings met analyst estimates. Costco shares were 1% higher in pre-market trading.

AOL Inc. (AOL) -- the parent of DailyFinance -- will begin trading Thursday. It was spun off from Time Warner (TWX) Wednesday.

Ciena (CIEN) reported a wider fourth-quarter loss of $26.7 million, or 29 cents a share, Thursday as revenue declined to $176.3 million. On an adjusted level, Ciena lost 12 cents a share, more than the 7 cents a share loss analysts had expected. Shares fell 2.8% ahead of the bell.

Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) swung to a fiscal second-quarter loss of $26.4 million, or 17 cents a share, as sales in the quarter fell to $2.69 billion from $3.15 billion. The loss was greater than analysts had expected.

Dollar General Corp. (DG) posted a third quarter profit of 24 cents per share compared to a loss of 2 cents per share in the same quarter last year. Dollar General missed estimates by a penny, but topped its estimated revenue number. Shares advanced 2.5% in pre-market trading.

Hershey (HSY) and its controlling trust are close to a decision on whether to bid for Cadbury (CBY), according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, British and Irish workers at Cadbury will launch a major campaign on Tuesday to fend off a hostile bid from Kraft Foods (KFT), hoping to avoid job losses and pay cuts at the confectionery maker.

Bank of America (BAC) on Wednesday repaid the government in full the $45 billion in TARP bailout money it received. Meanwhile, Citigroup (C) plans to raise $20 billion by selling new equity to help repay its $45 billion TARP bailout, CNBC reported Wednesday. Shares traded 1% higher in pre-market action.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) discovered oil at the Lucius exploration well in Keathley Canyon block 875. The company called the initial results "very encouraging." Anadarko operates the Lucius well with two other co-owners. Shares of Anadarko were 3% higher ahead of the bell.

Eli Lilly (LLY) expects to earn $4.65 to $4.85 per share in 2010, excluding the potential impact of health-care reform in the U.S. It expects low- to mid-single-digit total revenue growth on a pro forma basis and mid-single-digit revenue growth on a reported basis. Shares fell 2.5% in pre-market trading.

Sunoco Inc.'s (SUN) ratings outlook was lowered from stable to negative by Fitch because of weak financial performance.

Lululemon Athletica (LULU) late Wednesday reported a higher third-quarter profit of $14.1 million, or 20 cents as sales jumped 29.7% to $112.9 million and same-store sales gained 10%. Results beat estimates and shares advanced 1% ahead of the bell.

General Electric (GE) said on Thursday it had received a contract worth $1.4 billion to provide equipment and services to a planned Oregon wind farm that aims to become the world's largest such facility.

Nokia (NOK) will close its only two flagship stores in the U.S., a sign that it needs to refresh its retail strategy.

Microsoft's (MSFT) newest operating system Windows 7, seems no different than its predecessors, as complaints about bugs have already started rolling in. According to a survey by iYogi, 31% of users upgrading to to Windows 7 have reported problems.
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