The following post rounds up the companies making headlines today:

Alcoa Inc. (AA) will kick off earnings season late Wednesday when it will be the first Dow component to deliver quarterly results. The aluminum giant is expected to report a second quarter loss of 34 cents per share, according to First Call, or 32 cents per share according to Reuters estimates. This would be its third consecutive quarterly loss.

Google (GOOG) is planning yet another challenge to Microsoft (MSFT) as the search giant now plans to enter the computer operating system business. Already challenging the Office suite on PCs with Google Documents and Windows Mobile with the Android software among others, now Google is attacking Microsoft head on.
NRG Energy Inc. (NRG) rejected Exelon Corp.'s (EXC) revised hostile takeover bid of $8 billion in stock because it undervalues the business. Already Exelon sweetened its offer by about $1 billion last week. NRG shares climbed 2 percent in pre-market trade.

Amgen (AMGN) said a late-stage trial of its experimental bone drug denosumab worked better than Zometa from Novartis (NVS) in treating complications in breast-cancer patients. AMGN shares soared over 16 percent ahead of the bell. NVS shares also climbed about a percent.

Family Dollar Stores (FDO) reported a 36 percent jump in third quarter quarterly profit to $87.7 million, or 62 cents per share, topping market estimates of 59 cents a share. It also forecast fourth quarter in line or above analysts' view. It seems that with the recession Family Dollar has seen more people shopping at its stores for anything from cheap-priced food to house products. Shares jumped over 8 percent in pre-market trade.

Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) -- Bloomberg reports that the SEC is investigating the company's disclosures about Steve Jobs's health, especially how his condition went from "relatively simple" hormone imbalance on Jan 5, to the "more complex" condition by Jan 14 requiring him to take a near 6-months leave. SEC investigators want to be sure that Jobs's January disclosures didn't mislead investors, according to Bloomberg sources.

General Electric Corp. (GE) said it reached a strategic agreement for an undisclosed price with privately held smart grid technology firm Tendril.

Rio Tinto (RTP) and BHP Billiton (BHP) were upgraded to Buy from Hold by Investec Securities. However, Rio said Tuesday China detained four of its employees in Shanghai. Reuters writes: "Rio, which last month scrapped a $19.5 billion deal with Chinese state-owned metals group Chinalco, said it was unclear why the employees were detained on Sunday." RTP shares dropped over 16 percent in pre-market trade. BHP shares climbed about 1 percent.

Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG) said second-quarter net income rose 21 percent to $211 million, or 96 cents a share, while revenue fell 7 percent to $3.27 billion. Adjusted earnings per share were 78 cents per share, beating estimates.

Ely Lilly (LLY), Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AMLN) and Alkermes Inc. (ALKS) recieved a regulatory approval late Tuesday. AMLN shares rose over 4 percent in pre-market trade, ALKS 3 percent.

Ruby Tuesday Inc. (RT) posted stronger results than analysts had expected late Tuesday. RT shares jumped nearly 9 percent ahead of the bell.

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