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Stocks to Watch: AMR Corp., Best Buy, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Sallie Mae

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Thursday's top stories and stocks with potential to move...

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Stocks to watch for Thursday, September 27, 2007:

  • AMR Corp. (AMR) is being urged by investment company FL Group to spinoff its AAdvantage frequent-flier program to boost its stock price. FL Group, now with an 8.3% stake in the company, says AAdvantage is worth about $6 bln.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) said its second-quarter profit rose 1% to $147 million, or 55 cents a share. Sales at the home-products retailer rose 10% to $1.77 billion.
  • Best Buy (BBY) said Chief Financial Officer Darren Jackson will move to the new position of executive vice president of customer operating groups. He will oversee the company's entertainment, PC mobility and home solutions segments. Jim Muehlbauer, currently CFO of Best Buy U.S., has been named interim CFO.
  • Children's Place (PLCE) said Chief Executive Ezra Dabah resigned after an internal investigation found violations of company policy. Board member Chuck Crovitz was named interim CEO. Company shares rose more than 7%.
  • Merrill Lynch (MER) faces a possible third-quarter write-down of as much $4 billion to reflect losses on mortgage-related securities and buyout-financing commitments, a Wall Street analyst predicted yesterday.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) said that it sold record $170 million worth of its new "Halo 3" video game were in its first day. The third installment of Microsoft's Halo title is seen as a key to reaching profitability for the company's entertainment & devices unit this fiscal year.
  • Paychex (PAYX) said fiscal first-quarter net income rose 12% to $151.1 million, or 40 cents a share, from $135.1 million, or 35 cents a share. The provider of payroll, benefits and human resource services said revenue increased 10% to $507.1 million.
  • The group planning to buy SLM Corp. (SLM), or Sallie Mae, for $25 bln is now seeking to back out of the deal. The buying group, J.C. Flowers & Co., has argued two material changes at Sallie Mae: Legislation governing student-lending practices set to be enacted today will have a worse affect on its business than allowed for in the contract and the overall economic environment has changed in a way that makes conditions unacceptable for closing the deal.
  • Verizon Wireless (VZ) is refusing 'highly controversial' content being sent via text messages from a prominent abortion rights group, Naral Pro-Choice America. The group requested that Verizon Wireless and other carriers distribute its text messages that users sign up for by sending a message to a five- or six-digit number called a "short code."


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +2.40%, Nikkei +2.41%, Sensex +1.35%, Taiwan +1.69% and Shanghai +1.33%.
  • Taking a peek across the pond, we find the CAC +0.55%, DAX +0.64%, FTSE +0.66%, ATX +0.84%, Swiss Mkt. +0.49% and Stockholm +1.33%.
  • Crude oil is trading +0.65 to 80.95 and gold is higher +3.2 to 738.7 this morning.

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