Stocks in the news: General Electric, Bank of America, Google

Some of the companies making headlines today:

General Electric's (GE)continued to get hit by its financial unit this quarter as well as profit fell 44 percent, but still managed to beat estimates. This outweighed signs of improvement in its other divisions that make heavy machinery and other industrial equipment. GE's overall revenue fell 20 percent, more than projections. Shares fell 2.5 percent ahead of the bell.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) said Friday it lost $2.24 billion, or 26 cents per share, in the third quarter as loan losses kept rising, providing further evidence that consumers are still struggling to pay their bills. But results were aided by profit from investment bank Merrill Lynch, including income from bond, stock and currency trading. The loss was better than the 21 cents forecast by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Shares dropped over 5 percent in pre-market trading.
Mattel Inc.'s (MAT) third-quarter profit declined 3 percent, to $229.8 million, or 63 cents per share, because of a tough economy that is still dampening demand for toys. Revenue declined 8 percent to $1.79 billion. Analysts predicted earnings of 63 cents per share and revenue of $1.78 billion. Shares added 2.5 percent in pre-market.

Halliburton Co.'s (HAL) third-quarter net income fell to $262 million, or 29 cents a share. Its adjusted earnings were 31 cents a share. Revenue dropped to $3.59 billion from $4.85 billion. Wall Street analysts expected Halliburton to earn 26 cents a share on revenue of $3.43 billion.

Sony Ericsson, a joint venture of LM Ericsson and Sony (SNE), said Friday its losses widened to euro164 million ($245 million) on sagging sales in the third quarter, and announced new financing from external investors.

Google (GOOG) posted a record profit that topped expectations Thursday after the close, reporting it earned $1.64 billion, or $5.89 a share (adjusted), up from $1.29 billion, or $4.06 a share, in the same period last year. Net revenue rose nearly 1% to $4.38 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $5.42 a share, and $4.24 billion in net revenue. Shares jumped 3 percent before the bell.

International Business Machines (IBM) also reported Thursday after the close and did the old beat and raise, but shares fell about 4.5 percent as revenue didn't show strengh.

AstraZeneca (AZN) -- The FDA approved the use of Crestor cholesterol drug in patients aged 10 to 17 when diet didn't help control the cholesterol. AstraZeneca said it doesn't plan to actively promote the indication.

Targacept (TRGT) shares soared over 23 percent in premarket after it announced positive TC-5214 trial for major depressive disorder.

Walmart (WMT) now decided to take on Amazon.com (AMZN). Its online bookstore started Thursday offering $10 prices on such upcoming hardcover releases as Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" and John Grisham's "Ford County," a cut of 60 percent or more from the regular cost. Wal-Mart will also offer free shipping.

Select analyst calls:
  • J.P. Morgan downgraded Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) to underweight from neutral due to valuation.
  • Google was upgraded to buy from hold by The Benchmark Co. and it lifted its price target to $625 from $500.
  • UBS upgraded Walgreens (WAG) rom neutral to buy.

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