Stocks in the News: GE, Google, McDonald's

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

General Electric Co.
(GE) fourth-quarter earnings dropped 19% to $2.94 billion, or 28 cents per share. Results still beat Wall Street earnings estimates of 26 cents per share. The company's finance unit, GE Capital, managed a modest profit in the quarter. Shares rose over 1% in early premarket action.McDonald's (MCD) reported higher quarterly profit on Friday as strength in international markets offset its weakening U.S. business. Excluding one-time items, McDonald's earned $1.03 a share, beating estimates by a penny.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB) says price hikes for things like Huggies diapers helped to lift profits in the fourth quarter by 17%. The company earned $492 million, or $1.17 per share, as sales jumped 8% to $4.98 billion, helped by a weaker dollar and the higher selling prices. Analysts forecast earnings of $1.25 per share on $4.92 billion in sales. Shares fell over 1%.

Google (GOOG) Thursday posted nearly $2 billion in profit and returned to double-digit revenue growth for the first time in a year this past quarter, beating Wall Street estimates. But investors still sold on the news as the issue of China remains unresolved. While Google said it would like to stay in China, it will do so only under "somewhat different terms." GOOG shares skidded over 4% in premarket trading.

Toyota (TM) announced it is recalling 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. to fix potentially faulty accelerators. The repairs will cost the Japanese car company hundreds of millions of dollars. But it's the tarnished reputation that might cost it the most. TM shares were down 1.5% ahead of the bell.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) posted its first quarterly profit in three years because it got $1.25 billion in a legal settlement with its archrival Intel (INTC) to squash a long-running antitrust battle. AMD said late Thursday it made $1.2 billion, or $1.52 per share, or lost $57 million, or 8 cents per share excluding the settlement, beating estimates calling for a loss of 18 cents per share. AMD shares dropped over 6% before the bell.

American Express (AXP) net income soared 198% to $716 million, or 60 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, handily beating Thomson Reuters' polled analysts' expectations of 57 cents a share. It seems affluent Americans are starting to spend more and pay back their debt on time. AXP shares traded over 2% lower in premarket action.

President Barack Obama proposed a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street to avert future financial crises, seeking to limit the size and complexity of banks' investment activities. Bank stocks declined worldwide and are expected to be hit on Wall Street as well. The focus will continue to be on such stocks as JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS), Bank of America (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS) and Wells Fargo (WFC), which mostly tumbled Thursday. Some of them may have to sell some private-equity businesses and stop investing in buyouts.

Schlumberger (SLB) says oil drilling has started to recover after a yearlong slump in crude prices that pushed down the company's fourth-quarter profit by 31%, but beat analyst estimates. Shares slipped over 1%.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is in talks with McGraw- Hill Cos. (MHP) and Hachette Book Group to include educational and trade titles on its tablet computer, according to Bloomberg. Fox reports that both Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) may carry the device. Meanwhile, discussion and rumor regarding the tablet are heating up.

The Hershey Co. (HSY) decidec not make a bid for Cadbury PLC (CBY) after all after the latter accepted an offer from Kraft Food Inc. (KFT) worth 11.5 billion pound ($19.5 billion). The deadline for rival offers has passed.
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