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Spotlight Stocks: Barnes & Noble, Ford, Merrill, Wal-Mart

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

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Stocks to watch for Thursday, August 14, 2008:

  • Barnes & Noble (BKS) is reportedly unlikely to bid to acquire rival Borders Group (BGP), which put itself up for sale in March due to potential liquidity problems, reported The Wall Street Journal. A merger made sense here as cost reduction due to combined corporate operations would have helped BKS. Borders hopes to complete the auction by the end of September, according to a person close to the company.

  • Ford (F) has begun production on a new global subcompact car, dubbed the Fiesta, amid an effort to cut manufacturing and development costs, reported Reuters. The company sees this as a way to expand its product development efforts on a global platform, which can reduce overall development costs and purchasing costs, while allowing for differing interiors, exterior colors and other options depending on regional customer preferences.

  • Merrill Lynch (MER) is expected to cut its dividend by "roughly 50 percent or more" according to Interactive Brokers Group options trader Steve Sosnick. This despite the company's CEO, John Thain, assuring it would maintain its 35 cent quarterly dividend. A cut would be the first in the company's history since it went public in 1971.

  • Wal-Mart (WMT) reported 2Q net income of $3.45 billion, or 87 cents a share, up 17% from $2.95 billion, or 72 cents a share a year ago. Sales increased 10.4% to $101.6 billion from $92 billion last year. The company also said it is raising its full-year profit forecast as low prices and cost cutting have helped the retailer.


Market Recap

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.47%, Nikkei -0.51%, Sensex -2.44%, Taiwan +0.46% and Shanghai -0.38%.

  • Glancing towards Europe, we see the CAC +0.92%, DAX +0.49%, FTSE +1.22%, ATX +0.77%, Swiss Market +0.61% and Stockholm +0.80%.

  • In commodities, crude oil is down -0.16 to 115.81 while gold is higher +6.4 to 831.4 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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