Date : 12/14/2011 @ 9:05AM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Altria Grp., Inc. (MO)
Quote : 71.28  0.16 (0.22%) @ 4:00PM


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Among the companies whose shares are expected to actively trade in Wednesday's session are First Solar Inc. (FSLR), Avon Products Inc. (AVP) and Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG).

Solar-panel maker First Solar again lowered its outlook for the year amid continued project delays in its systems business due to weather and other factors, while also projecting a weak view for 2012 and disclosing a reorganization of some operations. Shares tumbled 12% to $37.35 in recent premarket trading.

Avon shares gained 10% to $17.75 in recent premarket trading after announcing late yesterday that Andrea Jung will step down as CEO. Citigroup calls the announcement "long and broadly anticipated/expected/hoped for," though Jung will remain at Avon as executive chairman. Citigroup thinks the door-to-door beauty products company can perform better, though "we think investors should acknowledge that there is no easy fix, and that any change - whether strategic or just ironing out execution wrinkles - will take time."

Cheniere Energy said Tuesday it will offer 33 million shares of its common stock as the energy company looks to raise funds for general corporate purposes, including repayment of indebtedness. Shares slid 9% to $8.50 in recent premarket trading.

Oppenheimer notes AT&T (T) last week said it's on track to break its single-quarter smartphone sales record, and while that increases the firm's smartphone sales forecast, it leads to lower fiscal year 2011 and 2012 earnings-per-share views to account for higher subsidies. "Positively, we believe subsidy expense growth is peaking," Oppenheimer says, "and although at best we see flat wireless margins in 2012, we believe there could be upside to our 2013 forecast," Shares slipped 1.3% to $28.65 in recent premarket trading.

Stifel Nicolaus cut its stock-investment rating on Altria Group Inc. (MO) to hold from buy after shares rose to its $29 price target. Stifel says it is confident in the cigarette maker's fundamentals into next year, but says the shares are pricing in the upside, noting that Altria is "trading at an 8% discount to the S&P Consumer Staples sector and a 10% premium to the S&P 500, both of which are well above its historical average." Shares edged 0.7% lower to $28.80 in recent premarket trading.

Joy Global Inc.'s (JOY) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 18% as the heavy-duty mining equipment maker continued to report stronger revenue and bookings with a boost from acquisitions. But the results fell short of analysts' expectations, sending the shares down 3.4% to $81.70 in recent premarket trading.

RiT Technologies Ltd. (RITT) said it will convert an outstanding loan of about $3.2 million into over 636,000 ordinary shares at an average price of $5.09 per share, reflecting a 24% premium above its closing price on Tuesday. Shares surged 23% to $5.05 in recent premarket trading.

Sequans Communications SA (SQNS) updated its guidance for the current quarter, announcing a revenue and bottom-line outlook that fell beneath Wall Street's expectations. Shares tumbled 30% to $2.50 in recent premarket trading.

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American Woodmark Corp. (AMWD) disclosed plans to reduce production capacity and to adjust the overall retirement program offered to employees as the seller of kitchen cabinets and vanities continues to struggle with a slump in the housing market.

ING lowered its stock-investment rating on Carrefour SA (CRRFY) (CA.FR) to sell from hold and cut its target price to EUR15.50 from EUR19.00. The firm says this follows the December 6 profit warning issued by peer Metro AG (MEO.XE), a clear signal of declining consumer spending trends throughout Europe. Carrefour has said it expects its 2011 fiscal year earnings before interest and taxation to be 15%-20% down on the year. ING says, "We believe this target is vulnerable to decreasing consumer confidence...triggered by the ongoing sovereign debt crisis and by expected new austerity measures."

Oil and gas explorer Endeavour International Corp. (END) said it has terminated its agreement to purchase Marcellus shale assets from SM Energy Co. (SM).

Pharmacy-benefits company Express Scripts Inc. (ESRX) said in a regulatory filing that it's locked in a contract dispute with WellPoint Inc. (WLP), and the companies may go to court and fight it out. Express Scripts previously has said that WellPoint represented nearly 30% of the company's revenue for the nine months ended Sept. 30.

Knight Capital Group Inc.'s (KCG) domestic equity trading volume slumped 14% month-over-month in November amid a turbulent month for financial markets.

Moody's Corp.'s (MCO) raised its quarterly dividend 14%, as the credit rating and market research company joined a growing list of firms looking to bolster shareholder value.

Pentair Inc. (PNR) trimmed its earnings target for the current quarter amid lighter-than-expected European sales, while also offering a forecast for next year that came in shy of estimates. In addition to weakness in Europe, the maker of water treatment and storage systems also cited lower-than-expected residential water treatment component volume as cause for its reduced forecast for the current quarter.

PG&E Corp. (PCG) said Tuesday that it is liable for a fatal 2010 pipeline explosion and will compensate victims who have sued the company, ahead of a court hearing. The lawsuits stem from the Sept. 9, 2010 explosion of PG&E's natural-gas pipeline in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people and injured 58 others.

Stein Mart Inc. (SMRT) said it received a noncompliance letter from Nasdaq related to delays in filing its third-quarter report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The discount retailer said the notice was expected and that it plans to submit the financial filing well within the 60-day deadline.

Synovis Life Technologies Inc.'s (SYNO) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 83% as the medical device company continued its streak of double-digit sales growth, helped by demand for its Peri-Strips product.

Tellabs Inc. (TLAB) said Chief Financial Officer Timothy J. Wiggins will resign on Dec. 30 to take the finance chief post at for-profit education company DeVry Inc. (DV). The telecommunications-equipment maker named Tom Minichiello, its chief accounting officer, as interim chief financial officer, as it said it plans to conduct a search for Wiggins' replacement.

Warnaco Group Inc. (WRC) said Chief Operating Officer Helen McCluskey will become the apparel maker's new president and chief executive upon CEO Joe Gromek's retirement, effective Feb. 1.

-Edited by Ian Thomson and Corrie Driebusch; write to and

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