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Stocks to Watch: American Express, Google, Merck, Toll Brothers, Wynn


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Stocks to watch for Wednesday, November 8

  • American Express (AXP) said it has increased its return on equity target to 33% to 36% from a previous range of 28% to 30%. The company said the new target takes effect this quarter.
  • Bob Evans Farms (BOBE) said October same-store sales at its restaurants increased 3% from the same period a year ago. Same-store sales for the fiscal second quarter rose 1.3%, the company said.
  • Career Education (CECO) reported third-quarter net earnings of $20.7 million, or 22 cents a share, compared with $54.9 million, or 53 cents a share, in the same period last year, as sales fell and expenses rose. The provider of postsecondary education said revenue fell 7% to $462.4 million from $497.5 million.
  • Cosi (COSI) said its third-quarter net loss widened to $2.86 million, or 7 cents a share, from $2.43 million, or 6 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenue rose to $33 million from $30.8 million.
  • Google (GOOG) is preparing to sharply increase the scope of its radio-ad sales business, potentially reaching thousands of new advertisers.
  • Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) said it expects to incur pretax inventory impairment charges and land option deposit write-off charges of about $300 million in the fourth quarter. Net of the charges, the home builder said it sees a net loss for the quarter.
  • Medco (MHS) tried to strike a deal with rival pharmacy-benefits manager Caremark before Caremark agreed to merge with CVS.
  • Merck (MRK) disclosed four separate tax disputes in Canada and the United States with potential liabilities totaling $5.58 billion, according to a media report late Tuesday. Merck said it plans to dispute the liabilities.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) will spend more than $400 million on the broad technology collaboration with Linux software vendor Novell that the two companies recently unveiled.
  • Neiman Marcus is nearing a deal to sell the Kate Spade accessories firm to apparel giant Liz Claiborne for about $120 million.
  • Nortel (NT) posted a narrower loss amid a rise in revenue. The telecommunications equipment maker promised to intensify cost-containment measures.
  • OSI Systems (OSIS) reported a first-quarter net loss of $6.04 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $4.19 million, or 26 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The maker of security and inspection systems posted revenue of $115.5 million vs. $101.9 million.
  • Revlon (REV) posted a wider quarterly loss, as costs associated with jobs cuts and a management shakeup hurt the cosmetics maker's bottom line.
  • Time Warner Telecom (TWTC) reported a third-quarter net loss of $11.4 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $23.4 million, or 20 cents a share, during the year-ago period. Excluding non-cash stock-based compensation expenses, the per-share loss was 6 cents vs. 20 cents a year ago.
  • Toll Brothers (TOL) and Beazer Homes (BZH) reported sharp declines in orders and said a housing-market recovery isn't imminent.
  • The Los Angeles Times, a unit of Tribune (TRB), said it has named James O'Shea to succeed Dean Baquet as editor, effective Nov. 13. O'Shea is currently managing editor of the Chicago Tribune.
  • UTStarcom (UTSI) said it's delaying the release of its third-quarter results and the filing of its third-quarter Form 10-Q as it conducts a voluntary review of its historical stock option grant practices.
  • Wal-Mart (WMT) has offered "everyday low prices" so extensively that it wants to trademark the acronym EDLP, but its competitors are arguing that the term already is in widespread use.
  • Wynn Resorts (WYNN) swung to a third-quarter earnings gain of $715.7 million, or $6.43 a share boosted by a sale in Macau. A year ago, the company reported a loss of $9.2 million, or 9 cents a share.

Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng -0.68%, Sensex -0.64%, Taiwan -0.09%, Shanghai -1.20%, Jakarta -0.49% and Nikkei -1.08%.
  • A check of the European bourses finds the CAC -0.46%, DAX -0.61%, FTSE -0.44% and Swiss Mkt -0.77%.
  • Crude oil is trading +0.21 to 59.94 while gold is -4.5 to 623.2.
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