Coca-Cola Co. (KO) plans to acquire the North American operations of its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), and will give up its own bottling operations in Sweden and Norway in a cashless deal. Coke will give up its 34% stake in CCE, but will assume $8.8 billion of its debt. KO shares dropped over 3%, CCE soared over 29% in premarket trading.
Apple (AAPL) on Thursday will hold its annual shareholders meeting with CEO Steve Jobs. Analysts say investors may be looking for a fresh catalyst to send shares even higher. Questions about the iPad will also flood the meeting and the company's plans for its $40 billion cash balance.
H.J. Heinz (HNZ) reported a 13% rise in fiscal third-quarter revenue thanks to growth in emerging markets . But profit fell 6% on costs associated with selling two businesses. On an adjusted basis, Heinz beat Wall Street estimates.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is 84% government-owned after being bailed out, reported a loss of 3.6 billion pounds for 2009 but beat expectations for a loss of 5.7 billion pounds. Revenue rose 34% to 31.7 billion pounds; the bank said the peak of bad loans from the economic crisis may have passed. Shares jumped 4.7% before the bell.
Kohl's (KSS) managed to report 28% higher profit as sales increased 9%, partly the result of solid holiday sales, and as the department store chain controlled inventory levels. Kohl's reported earnings of $431 million, or $1.40 per share, on revenue of $5.68 billion -- above estimates of $1.37 per share on revenue of $5.67 billion.
Aegon (AEG), Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS), Gap (GPS), Safeway (SWY), Dynegy (DYN) and Blackstone (BX) are among the companies reporting today.
GameStop (GME) said that its CFO has resigned to take a position with Walmart (WMT). Robert Lloyd, the video game retailer's chief accounting officer, was named as interim CFO effective immediately. Shares dropped 4.8% as a result.
Reported late Wednesday:
- Express Scripts (ESRX) said its fourth-quarter profit rose nearly 10% to $223.3 million as revenue jumped 49% to $8.2 billion. On an adjusted basis, results handily beat estimates, as did 2010 outlook. Shares jumped over 9% ahead of the bell.
- Blockbuster (BBI) topped analysts' expectations for earnings per share on an adjusted basis. Revenue, which fell 18%, came inline with expectations. In 2010, the company intends to close 500 to 545 under-performing stores in the U.S. Shares sank over 9% in premarket trading.
- Limited Brands (LTD) posted sharply higher profit in its fiscal fourth quarter, boosted by higher revenues, fewer charges and leaner inventories. Results beat analysts' forecasts, as did 2010 outlook. Shares were 2.8% higher before the bell.
- Salesforce.com (CRM) reported a higher-than-expected net income and revenue growth. Shares advanced 1.5% in premarket trading.