Stocks in the News: Cisco, Merck, Texas Instruments

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

Cisco Systems (CSCO) is due to make a significant product announcement on Tuesday morning that it says "will forever change the Internet." Analysts believe it is a new networking technology.

Merck & Co. (MRK) and Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) said Tuesday they are uniting their animal health businesses. They'll jointly own the combined business, which will have the biggest share of about 29% in the $19 billion-a-year global market for medicines for pets and livestock.

Marsh & McLennan (MMC) has put its corporate investigations unit Kroll up for sale, with a price tag of around $1.3 billion, the Financial Times reported.

InterMune (ITMN) said Tuesday the Nasdaq halted trading of its common stock pending a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the company's New Drug Application for pirfenidone for the treatment of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Stage Stores (SSI) said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter net profit rose 9.9% to $27.9 million, or 72 cents a share, driven by inventory control and expense management as revenue for the quarter declined 5.3% to $431.7 million. Results also beat estimates of 66 cents a share. SSI also forecast higher earnings than expected.

Companies releasing quarterly earnings Tuesday: Kroger (KR), J. Crew (JCG) and Collective Brands (PSS).

Comerica (CMA) said it will offer $800 million in common shares with J.P. Morgan Securities as the book-running manager. Shares fell over 2% before the bell.

H&R Block (HRB) reported a higher third-quarter net income of $50.6 million, or 15 cents a share even as revenues decreased, and beat Wall Street estimates. Shares dropped over 2.5% in premarket trading.

Texas Instruments (TXN) announced late Monday it narrowed its sales and earnings outlook for the first quarter. Shares were 1.6% lower ahead of the bell.

TiVo (TIVO) reported a wider fourth-quarter loss of $10.2 million, or 9 cents a share, due to greater costs and lower revenues, but the loss was less than what analysts had estimated. Shares were 1.6% lower ahead of the bell.

Ford Motor Co. (F) launched a made-for-India compact car Tuesday -- the four-door Figo, Italian for "cool" -- as it continues its push into fast-growing Asian markets.

Sony Corp. (SNE) said Tuesday it will start selling 3-D televisions in June, joining a competitive industry-wide push of the technology into consumers' homes.

General Growth Properties' (GGP) two major investors are joining Brookfield Asset Management in offering to inject a combined $6.5 billion in fresh funds into the shopping mall operator to help it emerge from bankruptcy protection. Shares jumped over 2% in premarket trading.

Northrop Grumman (NOC) on Monday night pulled out of the multibillion-dollar contest to replace the US Air Force's fleet of ageing refuelling tankers, saying proceeding with a bid would be a waste of resources after concluding that, under current rules, it could not win the competition. Shares were 1.2% lower.

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