Stocks in the News: Qwest, Nokia, eBay

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

CenturyTel Inc. (CTL) agreed to buy Qwest Communications International (Q). The per share price would be equivalent to $6.02, a premium of approximately 15% over Qwest's closing price Wednesday. The deal combined two of the largest U.S. land-line phone companies and would be one of the biggest U.S. telecom deals in years. Q shares jumped over 5% in premarket trading. CTL's dropped 2.6%.

PepsiCo. Inc. (PEP) said Thursday that its first-quarter profit climbed 26% as sales rose 13%. The Purchase, New York-based company forecast fiscal 2010 profit excluding currency impact to grow 11% to 13% from $3.71 a share.

Nokia Corp.'s (NOK) earnings and revenue reported Thursday missed expectations. It also issued a cautious forecast as it cut the profit outlook for its key phone unit. Shares slumped over 14%.

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) on Thursday reported a 75% drop in first-quarter earnings, mostly owing to a large one-time charge for retiree-health care costs. Excluding charges, results matched expectations. Shares fell nearly 1% before the bell.

Questar Corporation (STR) announced Thursday that it is considering a possible tax-free spin-off of the company's natural gas and oil exploration and production business. Shares are soaring over 10% in premarket trading.

Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) had its credit rating downgraded to Aa2 from Aa1 by Moody's Investors Service, which also gave negative outlook.

eBay (EBAY) posted 11% higher first-quarter earnings, powered by a strong performance by its PayPal division. Results were roughly inline with estimate, but eBay gave a disappointing forecast. Shares sank 8.7% ahead of the bell.

Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) reported good results that exceeded Wall Street estimates, but disappointed investors when it lowered its revenue forecast. Shares fell nearly 8% in premarket trading.

SanDisk Corp. (SNDK) reported earnings that handily beat expectations as revenue rose 65% to $1.1 billion. Shares rallied over 5% ahead of the bell.

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) reported late Wednesday it attracted 1.7 million more customers during the first quarter, as the company continues to grow in a torrid pace. Netflix earnings grew 44%, which beat expectations. It also boosted its outlook. Shares were 2.2% higher in premarket trades.

Starbucks (SBUX) released late Wednesday higher-than-expected earnings on revenue of $2.13 billion for its fiscal second quarter. Starbucks enjoyed more customers even as it raised prices. Same-store sales grew 7%. Shares rose 1.7%.

Earnings reports due after markets close include Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), (AMZN) and American Express (AXP).
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