Stocks in the News: Intel, Rio Tinto, Google

The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:

Intel (INTC) is scheduled to post results Thursday after the closing bell. As one of several technology bellwether stocks, investors eagerly await the company's numbers and an indication of the health of the sector. Intel is expected to report quarterly earnings of 30 cents a share on revenue of $10.2 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. These expected results would be an improvement over last year's results when Intel posted earnings of 4 cents a share on revenue of $8.2 billion. Shares climbed about 1% ahead of the bell.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% Google Inc. (GOOG) remains in the news with its decision to possibly pull out of China. Reports suggest the decision can be traced back to co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who have always said they put their principles before profit. While the decision won't immediately affect Google's earnings, it would affect its future growth. Google has two classes of stock, giving Page and Brin veto power over everyone else. Combined, they hold 58% of the voting power among shareholders.

Rio Tinto PLC (RTP) said Thursday that demand for iron ore, copper and gold rose strongly in the fourth quarter, but the company was cautious about the current year as governments wind down economic stimulus programs. The Anglo-Australian miner said global iron ore production was up 49%, copper production rose 36%, and mined gold was up 141%, driven by strong demand from China. Shares of RTP rose about 1.3% in premarket trading.

Barclays Bank PLC (BCS) said Tuesday it is expanding its market maker activity on the New York Stock Exchange by acquiring the assignments of LaBranche & Co. Ltd. of New York for $25 million cash. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of this year.

Several companies are donating funds to help relief efforts for victims of the earthquake that hit Haiti. Kellogg (K) pledged $250,000 to the American Red Cross, The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) said Wednesday it would donate $100,000 to the Red Cross, and AT&T Inc. (T) is making it easy to donate $10 via text message to assist earthquake victims in Haiti.

Hershey (HSY) is preparing a counter bid to Kraft Foods' (KFT) hostile takeover bid for Cadbury (CBY), according to a Financial Times report.

Shaw Communications (SJR) is also reporting earnings Thursday, while J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) is reporting earnings Friday.

RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) announced late Wednesday that founder Rob Glaser has stepped down as CEO. The board named Robert Kimball acting CEO and president. Glaser will remain chairman of RealNetworks' board. Shares jumped about 3.3% before the bell.

Zale (ZLC) announced that three top executives abruptly left the jewelry company. Zale shares fell nearly 15% in premarket trading.

Sealy Corp. (ZZ) reported a fourth-quarter net income of $2.6 million, or 2 cents a share, improving from a net loss of $41.4 million, or 45 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Adjusted earnings beat results by a penny. ZZ shares declined over 2% ahead of the bell.

IBM Corp. (IBM) has been hired by Panasonic to run a web-based email system for its entire 380,000-strong workforce, the industry's largest cloud computing contract to date.

Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) latest iPhone, probably be available as early as June, will include a more advanced camera, and may feature a touch-sensitive casing, Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Chen told Bloomberg in an interview, without identifying who gave him the information.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. (WSM) said it expects fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 69 cents to 74 cents a share, ahead of the forecast of 49 cents a share in a survey of analysts by FactSet Research. WSM shares jumped nearly 4% in premarket trade.
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