Stocks in the News: Apple, Wal-Mart, Google

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

(AAPL) is having a busy week. On Monday, it's due to report earnings later in the day. Analysts estimate the company has earned at least $2.07 per share in its fiscal first quarter. This week, Apple is also expected to unveil its much-talked-about tablet computer. The rumors surrounding this device are endless, with TechCrunch quoting Steve Jobs as saying,"This will be the most important thing I've ever done." Meanwhile, other rumors claim AT&T (T) will soon lose exclusivity of the iPhone. Shares of AAPL traded over 2% higher in early pre-market action.Wal-Mart Stores's (WMT) Sam's Club is cutting about 11,200 jobs, or about 10% of the warehouse's staffers, in an effort to improve sales. The company decided to turn over the task of in-store product demonstrations to an outside marketing company. This is on top of a previous decision to close 10 underperforming warehouse locations, which cost 1,500 jobs. WMT shares rose nearly 1% ahead of the bell.

Google (GOOG) announced over the weekend that its co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will sell 5 million shares each over the next five years. Page and Brin would pocket $5.5 billion at the current share price, which is near a two-year high. Meanwhile, Cisco Systems' (CSCO) CEO said on Monday he expected the spat between Google and China to be resolved, saying the issue was part of a "natural give and take." China, meanwhile, denies involvement in the hacking.

Reporting today are: Texas Instruments (TXN), Amgen (AMGN), VMware (VMW) and AK Steel Holding (AKS), among others.

Eaton (ETN) reported fourth-quarter net income rose 28% on 10% lower sales, beating estimates on both counts. Shares jumped nearly 4% in premarket trade.

Halliburton (HAL) fourth-quarter net income fell by about a half to $243 million, or 27 cents a share, as revenue fell by 24% to $3.7 billion. Results were in line with estimates. Shares declined 1.8% before the bell.

Goldman Sachs Group (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS) and JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) investment bank slashed their compensation in the fourth quarter to $39.9 billion, responding to political pressure that will probably persist. Bank shares, in general, are recovering this morning, with 1% and more increases.

Motorola (MOT) says it has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission accusing Research In Motion (RIMM) of infringing on five of its patents. Shares of both joined the general market rally, rising 1% and more.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) said Monday it signed an agreement with the Iraq Ministry of Oil to redevelop and expand the West Qurna-1 field in southern Iraq. The field is co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A).

Novartis' (NVS) bid to buy out minority shareholders in Alcon (ACL) does not fairly value their holdings, one of the largest investors in the eye-care group said. Alcon investors expect Novartis to increase the offer.

Phillips Electronics (PHG) reported a net profit of 251 million euros ($355 million) for the fourth quarter on Monday, helped by lower one-time charges and job cuts. Shares rallied over 6.8% ahead of the bell.

Ericsson (ERIC) fell after reporting a 92% drop in fourth-quarter profit as sales dropped and the announcement of a 1,500 job cut.

AOL (AOL), which owns DailyFinance, said Monday that it has acquired StudioNow, an online platform for video creation and distribution, for $36.5 million in cash and stock.
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