Stocks in the News: BP, Toll Brothers, Apple


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

BP (BP) CEO has yet to decide whether to go ahead and try the "top kill" method designed to choke off the gushing oil from the broken well in the Gulf of Mexico by force-feeding it heavy drilling mud and cement. BP had planned to try this method on Wednesday, but was still running tests even as many are losing patience with the company and its failed attempts to stop the month-long leak. Some 7 million gallons of crude have spilled into the sea since, fouling Louisiana's marshes and coating birds and other wildlife in brown oil.

Toll Brothers (TOL) announced Wednesday that it took a smaller loss of $40.4 million, or 24 cents per share, in its second quarter as writedowns of assets decreased. Revenue dropped 22%, to $311.3 million from $398.3 million. The company missed estimates, but said it's seeing increased confidence among buyers.

Zale Corp. (ZLC) said Wednesday that its fiscal third-quarter loss narrowed to $12.1 million, or 38 cents a share, and that sales fell 5.1% to $359.8 million. Same-store sales fell 2.2%. Excluding items, the retailer topped analyst estimates.

Microsoft (MSFT) CEO said Wednesday that China's weak enforcement of copyright laws has undermined revenues and pushed the company to focus on other markets in Asia, the Associated Press reports. China will overtake the U.S. this year as the world's biggest computer market, but only 1% of Microsoft's revenue comes from China, Ballmer said.

Yahoo (YHOO) is holding an analyst meeting Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern and CEO Carol Bartz will elaborate on her plans for turning around the struggling Internet company. Bartz already has promised further growth in the current quarter ending in June.

Apple's (AAPL) music-business practices are the subject of an informal inquiry by the U.S. Justice Department, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Specifically, it's investigating recent allegations that Apple used its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give the online retailer Amazon (AMZN) exclusive access to music about to be released.

The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) will not sell what's left of its Miramax art-house film division to its original founders, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, sources said Tuesday. Billionaire brothers Alec and Tom Gores are talking with Disney about buying Miramax and are also looking at Liberty Media's (LSTZA) Overture Films, said a source familiar with the situation.

TiVo Inc. (TIVO) said Tuesday its first-quarter net loss widened to $14.2 million, or 13 cents a share, as revenue declined and the company's subscriber-acquisition costs increased. Still, the loss was lower than analysts had expected. The company also said it remains confident it will prevail in a patent battle with Dish Network (DISH).

Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) said its board approved a plan for the payment processing company to borrow more and use the funds to buy back as much as $2.5 billion of its shares.

Vertex Pharma (VRTX) released hepatitis C trial results Tuesday, which were deemed a success. Shares are up 15% in premarket trade.