Stocks in the News: Sears, Staples, Applied Materials

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

Sears Holdings' (SHLD) reported Thursday that first-quarter net income fell 38% as thinner profit margins at its Sears chain, squeezed by discounts on appliances, offset a turnaround in revenue. Earnings per share of 14 cents matched analyst estimates, but revenue came in lower than expectations. Same-store sales gained 1.2%.

Symantec (SYMC) said it will buy VeriSign's (VRSN) identity and authentication business for about $1.28 billion in cash. The deal includes a majority stake in VeriSign Japan. Symantec expects the deal to dilute its 2011 adjusted earnings by 9 cents a share but add to earnings for the September 2011 quarter. SYMC shares dropped over 3% in premarket trading.

Staples (SPLS) reported Thursday its first-quarter net income climbed 30% as revenue rose 4% with both its North American and international sales improving. The company also lifted the low end of its full-year profit outlook. Adjusted earnings results of 28 cents per share beat estimates by a penny. Revenues met estimates.

Applied Materials (AMAT) on Wednesday reported it swung to a quarterly profit of $264 million, or 20 cents a share, from a loss a year ago as revenue more than doubled to $2.3 billion. Results beat analysts' estimates. Shares fell 1.7% ahead of the bell.

Limited Brands (LTD) said late Wednesday net income soared on a one-time gain. Excluding the gain, Limited earned 25 cents per share, handily beating estimates of 19 cents per share. Revenue rose nearly 12% to $1.92 billion and same-store sales grew 10%. Still, the company offered a muted forecast and shares dropped over 3%.

Autodesk (ADSK) reported Wednesday it swung to a first-quarter profit due to 11% higher revenue and strong demand overseas. The results handily beat estimates on both top and bottom lines. Shares advanced over 2% before the bell.