The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:

Walmart Stores (WMT) said Thursday its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rose 21% to $4.6 billion, or $1.22 a share. On an adjusted basis Walmart earned $1.17 a share, topping analyst estimates for earnings of $1.12 a share, on average. Net sales in the quarter rose 4.6% to $112.8 billion. But first quarter and 2011 guidance disappointed and the stock fell nearly 2% in premarket trading.Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reported a 25% jump in profit Wednesday, beating Wall Street estimates as consumers and companies are increasing spending on computer products. H-P also raised its 2010 outlook, citing "accelerating" market activity. Shares advanced 1.3% in premarket trading.

ABB Ltd. (ABB) reported a net profit for the fourth quarter Thursday, helped by cost-cutting and a weak U.S. dollar. Results topped analysts' expectations. Shares jumped over 5% ahead of the bell.

Daimler AG (DAI) reported Thursday a loss of 352 million euros ($482 million) in the fourth quarter and a larger-than-expected loss for the year as the global economic slump affected operations. Revenue declined to 21.3 billion euros. Daimler also said no dividend will be paid this year. Shares sank 5.9% before the bell.

AIG (AIG) has decided to drop a plan to completely unwind its derivatives portfolio and instead may keep up to $500 billion of the controversial assets, the Financial Times reports.

H.J. Heinz (HNZ) on Wednesday said it expects to report "very strong" third-quarter earnings per share of 82 cents, far topping estimates of 71 cents per share. Heinz cited improved margins and strong growth in emerging markets. It will also launch Heinz infant formula in Russia and China.

Reporting today are CBS (CBS), Intuit (INTU), and Hormel Foods (HRL), among others. After the close, H-P's rival Dell (DELL) is expected to post fourth quarter EPS of 27 cents, compared to 29 cents a year ago. Can it pull off a positive surprise?

Earnings in brief from Wednesday:
  • Applied Materials (AMAT) swung to profit of stronger sales than expected.
  • Priceline.com (PCLN) reported more than double the profit on a 34% jump in revenue as bookings growth accelerated.
  • Nvidia (NVDA) swung to profit as revenue more than doubled on strong demand for chips.
  • NetApp (NTAP) also swung to profit on double-digit revenue growth, beating estimates.
  • Las Vegas Sands (LVS) narrowed quarterly profit, but disappointed investors.
Google's (GOOG) effort to create the world's largest library by scanning millions of books for use on the Internet faces a courtroom fight as authors, foreign governments, corporate rivals and even the U.S. Department of Justice line up to challenge it, the Associated Press reports.

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