Stocks in the News: eBay, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs, Xerox

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

eBay Inc. (EBAY) beat Wall Street expectations when it reported solid results late Wednesday, powered by double-digit revenue growth in PayPal and its core marketplaces unit and the sale of 70% of Web-calling service Skype. The results were also helped by a better-than-expected holiday shopping season. The company also forecast 2010 results would be above expectations. Shares jumped about 7.7% in pre-market trade.More financials are reporting today, mostly before the opening bell. Among them are American Express (AXP), Comerica (CMA), Capital One (COF) and Legg Mason (LM). Google (GOOG) will report after the market close.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) earned $4.79 billion in the fourth quarter as the bank's trading business again outdistanced the rest of the financial industry. Goldman earned $8.20 a share, handily beating analyst estimates of $5.20 a share.

Xerox (XRX) said Thursday its cost-cutting efforts last year helped boost its fourth-quarter profit. It also forecast a bigger-than-expected profit for this year. Both top line and bottom line figures topped Wall Street projections. Shares were 1.8% higher in premarket trade.

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) also reported after the close on Wednesday, posting its first quarterly rise in U.S. same-store sales in two years, signaling that recession-weary consumers are spending more on small, daily luxuries. Starbucks also boosted its outlook for 2010. Deutsche Bank upgraded SBUX from hold to buy, while Jesup & Lamont downgraded it from buy to hold.
Starbucks also said it struck a deal with Swedish-Danish dairy products cooperative Arla Foods to foray into the European ready-to-drink coffee market. Shares rose 3.8% ahead of the bell.

Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL) earned a surprising profit in the fourth quarter thanks to higher traffic and lower fuel spending, beating analysts' earnings estimate. But revenue fell 8.3% even as demand, especially from lucrative business travelers, was improving modestly.

Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) reported a narrower fourth-quarter loss after it recorded fewer writedowns on mortgages and other loans, reflecting improving current-quarter credit trends and a number of charges in the year-earlier period. Shares were over 6% higher in premarket trading.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) says its fourth-quarter profit rose 30% to $944 million, or 81 cents per share, on higher premium revenue, despite a continued decline in commercial enrollment. Revenue rose 6.5% to $21.78 billion. Results beat estimates. Shares gained 3.6% before the bell.

Logitech International SA (LOGI) reported on Thursday a more than 40% year-on-year jump in third-quarter net income and said it expects to see a rise in "sales momentum" for the fourth quarter.

American International Group Inc. (AIG) submitted four rounds of regulatory filings in six months as it was pressed on the one hand by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to withhold data about bailout payments to banks and by the SEC asking it for more information on the other, Bloomberg reports.

Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs plans to bring new hope to old media with his tablet device as it will almost certainly offer access to a wide array of text books, newspapers, and TV shows, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Nokia Corp. (NOK) said Thursday it will offer free navigation services globally for users of its smart phones, in a drive to counter a similar move by Google Inc. (GOOG). Shares of TomTom and Garmin (GRMN) tanked on the news.

AstraZeneca (AZN) was upgraded at Morgan Stanley to overweight from equal weight late Wednesday. It expects AstraZeneca and Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) to be among sector leaders in externalizing research. However, it downgraded Sanofi-Aventis to equal weight from overweight on valuation.

Earnings in brief:
  • Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) says fourth-quarter results improved due to higher copper prices and and better conditions in some key markets.
  • KeyCorp (KEY) reported a fourth-quarter net loss from continuing operations. Shares jumped nearly 5%.
  • Southwest Airlines (LUV) posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday helped by a drop in costs and growing signs that travel demand was gathering momentum.
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