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Stocks To Watch: American Home Mortgage, Fiserv, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Take-Two

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Friday's top stories and some stocks with potential to move...

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Stocks to watch for Friday, August 3:

  • Activision (ATVI) swung to a profit in its first fiscal quarter thanks to surging sales of its video-game titles, which include the popular "Guitar Hero" franchise.
  • Amazon.com (AMZN) has begun delivering fresh groceries to a Seattle suburb, testing a service at which several firms failed in the 1990s.
  • Countrywide Financial (CFC) tried to soothe liquidity concerns late Thursday by saying it has access to nearly $50 bln of short-term funding as a cushion. American Home Mortgage Investment (AHM) , a smaller rival, has been hit over bankruptcy concerns.
  • American Home Mortgage Investment (AHM) , which has already stopped making new loans because of a funding crisis, told its employees that it will shut down Friday, Newsday reported on its Web site. Company founder Michael Strauss said in an email to employees that the lender "has been forced to close." AHM will reduce staff to 750 from more than 7,000 and stop accepting mortgages, and it's likely that the company will seek bankruptcy protection no later than Monday
  • AmerisourceBergen (ABC) entered an accelerated repurchase agreement with Bank of America (BAC) to buy back 5.45 mln shares of its common stock for $250 mln in cash, or $45.91 a share.
  • Boston Scientific's (BSX) Endosurgery unit will remain part of the company, instead of being spun off in a public offering. The medical products company said it expects the unit to generate $1.4 bln in revenue this year, compared with the company's 2006 revenue of $7.82 bln. The company said it will have more to say about the divestiture and head count reduction plans next quarter.
  • Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group (DTG) said it plans to eliminate about 25% of the management positions at its headquarters in Tulsa, Okla., as well as other support staff. The personnel changes are effective immediately, the company said.
  • Fiserv (FISV) agreed to purchase CheckFree (CKFR), a company that provides electronic bill-payment services, for about $4.4 bln.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) slashed the price on its Windows Vista operating system in China by more than half, in a bid to lure buyers away from pirated versions of the software.
  • Network Appliance (NTAP) gave a preliminary first-quarter earnings report, and said its results would come in lower than expected due to weak sales in the U.S. and Europe.
  • Procter & Gamble (PG) posted a higher quarterly profit on Friday, driven by cost controls, and also announced an acceleration of its share repurchase plans. Profit was $2.27 bln, or 67 cents per share, in the fiscal fourth quarter ended in June, up from $1.9 bln, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier.
  • Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) said it would delay the release of its highly anticipated "Grand Theft Auto IV" video game by as much as six months, and also lowered its forecasts through the end of its fiscal year.

Market Update:

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.42%, Nikkei -0.03%, Sensex +1.02%, Taiwan +1.20% and Shanghai +3.47%.that
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC -0.46%, DAX -0.32%, FTSE -0.33%, ATX -0.21%, Swiss Mkt. -0.03% and Stockholm -0.30%.
  • Crude oil is trading higher +0.15 to 77.01 and gold is also up +0.3 to 676.9 this morning.
No position in stocks mentioned.

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