The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:
Pfizer (PFE) has struck an agreement with India's Strides Arcolab to greatly expand the number of off-patent generic drugs the U.S. drug maker has in its portfolio. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The pact is expected to deliver 40 off-patent injectable and oral products, most of which treat cancer, to health care providers and patients in the U.S., the companies said in a statement. Pfizer expects the first drugs to arrive sometime this year. %%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% Kraft Foods' (KFT) hostile takeover bid for Cadbury (CBY) moved a step closer Wednesday following conditional antitrust approval by the European Union. An EU OK would require Kraft to sell Cadbury's chocolate business in Poland and Romania. On Tuesday, Kraft increased the cash portion of its approximately $16 billion bid for the U.K. candy maker, which it has repeatedly said undervalues the company. Kraft's bid is made all the more complicated by no-longer-secret meetings between Cadbury and Hershey (HSY), a deal that in itself could prove problematic given the Pennsylvania-based confectioner's lack of cash and other issues.
Home-builder Lennar (LEN) posted a surprise fourth-quarter profit Thursday, earning $35.6 million, or 19 cents a share, and reversing a year-earlier loss of $811 million, or $5.12 a share. The company also said new orders rose 3%, the first year-over-year rise in new orders in nearly four years. The profit broke a two-year string of losses for the Miami-based company. Revenues for the quarter that ended Nov. 30, however, fell 29% to $913.7 million.
Automatic Data Processing (ADP) said Wednesday its latest National Employment Report showed private-sector employers cut 84,000 jobs, larger than the 75,000 anticipated but the fewest number of cuts since March 2008. December's number compares with a revised 145,000 jobs lost in November. Investors view the report as a precursor to the government's more comprehensive Employment Situation Report, due Friday. Analysts expect the Labor Department to report the nation's unemployment rate rose slightly to 10.2% in December, according to Briefing.com, having fallen to 10% in the previous month.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA) reached an agreement with AstraZeneca (AZN) to settle lawsuits involving generic versions of AstraZeneca's Prilosec and Nexium drugs. As part of the deal, Teva will continue to market generic Prilosec (omeprazole) in the U.S., and make a one-time payment to AstraZeneca. The agreement also gives Teva exclusive rights to market generic version of Nexium (esomeprazole) beginning in 2014, pending regulatory approval.
Sears Holding (SHLD) said December same-store sales rose 0.4%, on the strength of sales at its Kmart stores where sales rose 5.3%. That jump offset a a 4.3% decline in its Sears stores. The company said it expects to earn $385 million to $465 million, or $3.36 to $4.06 a share, in the fourth quarter, surpassing analyst estimates of $315 million, or $2.60 a share, according to Reuters. For the year, Sears said it expects to report net income of $190 million to $270 million, or $1.61 to $2.29 a share, exceeding analyst estimates of $183 million, or $1.38 a share.
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