AnnTaylor Stores Corp. (ANN) reported Friday it swung to a quarterly loss, but adjusted profit came in higher-than-expected, helped by improved merchandise at its LOFT stores and cost cuts. Same-store sales fell 22.5 percent, with a 38 percent drop at the Ann Taylor chain and a 15.4 percent drop at LOFT. Shares fell over 5 percent ahead of the bell.
J.M. Smucker Co. (SJM) said Friday its fiscal first-quarter profit more than doubled to $98.1 million, or 83 cents per share, mostly on an 58 percent jump in sales due to last year's acquisition of the Folgers coffee business. Excluding charges, profit was 92 cents per share, well above analysts' estimates of 80 cents a share. Smucker also backed its yearly outlook and said earnings will fall at the higher end of its forecast. Shares gained about 3.4 percent in pre-market trading.
The Gap (GPS) reported late Thursday a nearly flat quarterly profit thanks to tight inventory controls that helped to limit the impact of a 7 percent drop in sales. KeyBanc upgraded the stock. Shares were 3 percent higher.
Morgan Stanley (MS) is planning to hire as many as 400 traders and salespeople, a hiring spree that comes as the firm tries to dig its way out of three straight quarters of losses and remain competitive against the profitable Goldman Sachs (GS).
Apple Inc. (AAPL) --The Federal Communications Commission said late Thursday it will hold a meeting Aug. 27 to review business practices in the wireless sector. One issue could be certain exclusive deals between handset makers and telecoms, such as AT&T Inc. (T) and Apple's iPhone. Bloomberg also reported Apple CEO Steve Jobs chose to have his liver transplant performed by a surgeon with experience treating the recurrence of the rare cancer Jobs had in 2004. While Jobs has confirmed he had the same rare tumor treated five years ago, he hasn't said whether the transplant was carried out to address a recurrence of the cancer.
MediciNova Inc. (MNOV) will acquire Avigen Inc. (AVGN) for $1.24 a share in cash or secured convertible notes. The offer represents a 7 percent discount to Avigen's Thursday close price. The deal is valued at about $37 million.
Caterpillar (CAT) and Navistar International Corp (NAV) are in talks with China's Jianghuai Automobile to set up a truck venture, a source told Reuters, as they try to tap into the Chinese auto market as well.
News Corp (NWS), trying to combat falling ad revenue, has proposed the formation of a consortium with other publishers to charge for news distributed online, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website.
Genzyme (GENZ) -- one piece of good news for the company after its plant foreclosure and expadited approval of rival drugs -- Leerink & Swann upgraded it to Outperform from Market perform, saying concerns over its manufacturing facility have been overdone.
Jefferies & Co downgraded several solar companies, including Evergreen Solar (ESLR), First Solar (FSLR), Suntech Power (STP) and Sunpower (SPWRA). Merriman, however, upgraded SPWRA.