The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:
Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) reported its profit climbed 46% to $306 million, or 68 cents per share, in the fiscal third quarter as sales rose 12% to $17.78 billion. Thomson Reuters says analysts expected earnings of 66 cents per share and $17.63 billion in revenue. Same-store sales grew 10%, or 4% excluding currency exchange rate.
H.J. Heinz (HNZ) reported a 9.7% jump in fourth-quarter net income as rising sales in emerging markets pushed revenue 8.3% higher and cost-cutting and higher prices helped offset rising ingredient prices. Earnings beat estimates by a penny.
BP (BP) is reporting early success in its effort to plug the gushing mile-deep broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It will be another day before it's clear whether the "top kill" operation -- which involves pumping heavy fluids into the spewing well -- is working to block the flowing oil. Live footage of the site is available here. Shares climbed 4.4% ahead of the bell.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) will face the House Oversight Committee hearing at 10:00 a.m. Eastern regarding the largest recall of children's medicine in the history of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Shares rose 1.5% in premarket trading.
Apple's (AAPL) market capitalization at the close of Wednesday's stock trading session stood at $222 billion, surpassing Microsoft (MSFT), which had a value of $219 billion.
Wal-Mart's (WMT) Asda unit reached a deal to buy the U.K. operations of deep discounter Netto in a deal valued at $1.1 billion.
Tiffany & Co. (TIF) reported its net income more than doubled in the first quarter as it enjoyed a 22% growth in revenue in the U.S. and most regions abroad that was stronger-than-expected. Results handily beat beat Wall Street expectations as did outlook.
Citigroup (C) gained a little more independence as the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday that it sold almost a fifth of its stake in the bank, or 1.5 billion shares of common stock, for gross proceeds of $6.2 billion, which is roughly $4.13 per share.
Prudential (PUK) shares jumped over 7% in premarket trading "on market talk that its audacious $35.5 billion takeover of U.S. giant AIG's Asian unit may be off, piling pressure on Britain's largest insurer," Reuters reported. AIG (AIG) shares also rose -- over 4% -- on the report.
NetApp (NTAP) reported more than double fiscal fourth-quarter income on a 32% jump in revenue. Shares were 4.2% higher in premarket trading.
Yahoo (YHOO) told analysts at a briefing on Wednesday that its net revenue growth between 2011 and 2013 would average between 7% and 10% after declining some 13% in 2009.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is being sued by Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy estate. The suit claims that the bank demanded billions of dollars more than it needed in the Lehman's final days contributing to its ultimate demise.
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