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Stocks To Watch: General Electric, General Motors, Intuit, JC Penney, UAL Corp.

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

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Stocks to watch for Friday, May 18:

  • Anheuser-Busch (BUD) said it stopped making its Spykes malt beverage because of disappointing sales and "unfounded criticism" by advocacy groups, which accused the company of subtly marketing the product to underage drinkers.
  • Autodesk's (ADSK) fiscal first-quarter revenue increased 17% to $509 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial, on average, expected first-quarter revenue of $500 million. The maker of design software said its stock-option review prevented it from providing earnings figures. Autodesk expects second-quarter revenue of $520 million to $530 million.
  • Russia sued Bank of New York (NYB) for $22.5 billion for its role in a 1990s scheme in which over $7 billion was siphoned out of Russia into accounts at the bank.
  • General Electric (GE) is close to a final agreement to sell its plastics division, according to a media report late Thursday. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. of Riyadh and Basell of Hoofddorp, Netherlands, are competing to reach a deal as early as Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site, citing people familiar with the matter. GE is close to a deal to sell its plastics division for nearly $11 billion -- more than expected -- to Saudi Basic Industries.
  • General Motors (GM) head of advertising in North America, Mike Jackson, will leave the company next month, according to a media report Thursday. Jackson is leaving GM to pursue to other business opportunities and the Detroit-based automaker does not plan to name a successor, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site. The general managers of GM's eight auto brands and other executives who previously reported to Jackson will now report to Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for North American vehicle sales, service and marketing, the report said.
  • Intuit's (INTU) profit climbed 23% and revenue eclipsed $1 billion as the maker of the popular TurboTax software benefited from a booming tax season.
  • JC Penney's (JCP) posted a 13% earnings increase, citing strong margins on its private-label fashions.
  • Jackson Hewitt Tax Service (JTX) said it now expects fiscal 2007 earnings of $1.95 to $2 a share, compared with its previous forecast of $1.90 to $2 a share, and still expects revenue in a range of $290 million to $295 million. The company said its network of franchised and company-owned offices prepared 3.65 million tax returns in 2007, down 0.2% from the previous fiscal year. Jackson Hewitt had previously forecast 1% to 3% growth in the number of tax returns prepared.
  • PMI Group (PMI) said its board has elected Chief Executive L. Stephen Smith as chairman, replacing Roger Haughton, who has retired from the board. PMI is a provider of mortgage insurance and credit enhancement products.
  • Sonic Solutions (SNIC) posted partial results as it continues the internal review of its stock option grant practices and related accounting. The software company reported fiscal fourth-quarter net revenue of $38.1 million. Sonic said believes it will have to record additional cash and non-cash charges for stock-based compensation expense, and restate previous financial statements, and that the charges will be material. The company said it hasn't been able to determine the amount of the charges at this time. Additionally, Sonic said it expects first-quarter net revenue of between $33 million and $35 million.
  • Trump Entertainment Resorts (TRMP) said its strategic committee recently received preliminary and conditional indications of interest from parties proposing to acquire the company.
  • UAL Corp. (UAUA), the parent company of United Airlines, said it has reduced 2007 mainline domestic capacity growth by about 2% from previously planned levels. The reduction enables the company to meet increasing international demand and optimize its revenue performance, the Chicago-based carrier said. On a system basis, the domestic capacity reduction will be partially offset by an increase in international capacity of about 0.5%, the company said. Additionally, UAL said it now estimates that mainline operating cost per available seat mile, excluding fuel, severance and special items, will increase by about 1% for the second quarter of 2007 vs. the year-ago period. For the full-year 2007, the cost is expected to increase by 1.5% to 2% from 2006
  • Veeco Instruments (VECO) said it has named John Peeler as chief executive officer, succeeding Edward Braun, who will remain chairman of the board. Peeler will join Veeco from JDSU (JDSU), where he served as president of the communications test and measurement business.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng -0.43%, Taiwan -0.05%, Shanghai -0.45%, Nikkei -0.57% and Sensex +0.03%.
  • A quick look across the pond finds the CAC +0.83%, DAX +0.83%, ATX +0.76%, Swiss Mkt. +0.38% and FTSE +0.57%.
  • Crude oil is +0.14 to 65.00 and gold is +2.30 to 659.5 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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