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Stocks To Watch: Baidu.com, Delta, Guess, Merck, Microsoft,

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Today's big stories and some stocks with potential to move...

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Stocks to watch for Thursday, February 15

  • Applebee's (APPB) said fourth-quarter earnings took a slight dip due to one-time costs, but sales climbed amid the restaurateur's possible plans to sell itself.
  • Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is pushing into growing alternative-fuel markets abroad with plans to produce soy-and-palm-based biodiesel in Brazil and Indonesia.
  • Shares of Applied Materials (AMAT) rose after the chip-equipment maker forecast new orders will rise in the current quarter despite signs the industry is hitting a soft patch.
  • Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) said it plans to offer $1 billion of convertible senior notes due 2014 to qualified institutional buyers. The agricultural products company said it expects to use a portion of the proceeds to buy back up to $400 million in shares.
  • Avici Systems (AVCI) said it swung to a fourth-quarter net profit of $2.99 million, or 21 cents a share, boosted by strong product revenue growth. In the same period last year, the provider of networking equipment posted a net loss of $8.6 million, or 67 cents a share.
  • Baidu.com (BIDU) said fourth-quarter net income rose, as revenue gained, to 122.8 million yuan ($15.8 million), or Y3.54 per share (46 U.S. cents), from Y$24.5 million, or Y0.71 per share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • BEA Systems (BEAS) said it has uncovered instances where stock options granted to its executives and employees were not properly accounted for, and it will have to restate financial results from 1998 through fiscal 2007, and record expenses of $340 million to $390 million.
  • Dell (DELL) named Solectron (SLR) Chief Executive Michael Cannon to the new post of president of global operations, taking the first step toward overhauling its business since Michael Dell returned to lead the company he founded two decades ago.
  • Delta's quarterly loss widened to $1.98 billion from $1.24 billion a year earlier as the company remains on course to emerge from bankruptcy in the spring.
  • Dobson Communications (DCEL) said it swung to a fourth-quarter net profit of $1.74 million, boosted by higher service revenue. In the same period last year, the provider of wireless phone services posted a net loss of $24.9 million.
  • EastGroup Properties (EGP) said fourth-quarter net income rose, as the company recorded a 20-cent-per-share gain on sales of real estate, to $11.6 million, or 46 cents a share, from $4.92 million, or 19 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • Equifax (EFX) said it will acquire Talx (TALX) in a stock and cash transaction valued at $1.4 billion, including the assumption of debt. Equifax, an Atlanta-based information technology company, said the acquisition is aligned with the company's long-term growth strategy of expanding into new markets and acquiring proprietary data sources.
  • EXCO Resources (XCO) said it is proposing to offer up to $2 billion in preferred stock. The offer includes the private placement of up to $400 million of 6% cumulative convertible perpetual preferred stock, and $1.6 billion of 11% cumulative preferred stock to institutional investors.
  • Guess (GES) blew the doors off earnings expectations by turning in a profit of $45.7 million, or 99 cents a share, a sharp turn from last year's income of $25.8 million, or 57 cents a share. The retailer said revenues surged 25% to $346.4 million.
  • Merck (MRK) agreed to pay the U.S. $2.3 billion to resolve disputed back taxes, the latest settlement in a crackdown on tax shelters. MRK said it has reduced the price of Stocrin, its HIV/AIDS medicine, in the least developed countries of the world and those hardest hit by the epidemic.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) settled a long-running Iowa lawsuit alleging the company overcharged consumers for Windows. Terms were not disclosed. Similar suits in other states have been settled or dismissed.
  • Montpelier Re Holdings (MRH) said fourth-quarter net income came in at $122.3 million, or $1.26 a share. In the prior year's period, the net loss was $61 million, or 68 cents a share.
  • The NYSE's takeover of Euronext cleared another hurdle, when the SEC approved exchange-rule changes related to the deal.
  • RealNetworks (RNWK) said its fourth-quarter earnings fell significantly from the same period a year ago, when results were skewed by a large settlement with Microsoft (MSFT).
  • Republic Airways Holdings (RJET) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $20.4 million, or 46 cents a share, compared with $18.5 million, or 43 cents a share, in the same period last year, as passenger revenue increased.


Market Recap

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +1.63%, Nikkei +0.81%, Sensex +2.47%, Taiwan +0.94% and Shanghai +3.03%.
  • A check across the pond finds the CAC -0.05%, DAX -0.04%, FTSE -0.13%, ATX +0.16%, Swiss Mkt -0.27% and Stockholm +0.45%.
  • Crude oil is trading +0.36 to 58.36 while gold is +0.3 to 672.3 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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