Hot Stock Minute

PFE, MRK Report; FOMC Meeting to Start; New Corporate Tax Plan

Hot Stock Minute

A penny here, a penny there. Two of the world's biggest drug companies beating earnings estimates by a cent. First, Pfizer (PFE) made 56-cents a share for the quarter. It missed however on revenue, failing to break the $13-billion mark, as sales dropped 7% from last year. Meanwhile, Merck (MRK) which came in with 84-cents after items. It also missed estimates on revenue, just reaching the $11-billion mark. The company says the stronger dollar hurt sales overseas.

Among the other companies reporting this morning is Aetna (AET), which had a nice beat: the company made $1.49 a share versus expectations of $1.40. But luxury retailer Coach (COH) missed with earnings of 78-cents when expectations were for 89-cents. So did JetBlue (JBLU) which had earnings of 11-cents a share versus expectations for 14-cents. It also missed on revenue.

Taper talk may worm its way back to Wall Street. The Fed is about to begin a two-day meeting on its policy plans. Yahoo! Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task has more in the video above.

President Obama will unveil a new proposal today to overhaul the corporate tax system. It's part of a renewed focus on jobs and the economy. Under this new plan, the President will drop his insistence that individual tax rates be part of a corporate tax package. However, the deal would require that one-time proceeds from the overhaul would be used to fund job-creation programs.

A settlement has been announced this morning between JPMorgan (JPM) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. JPMorgan was accused of using improper bidding tactics in California and the Midwest to boost profits in the electricity market. Sources say the bank will pay around $400-million to end an investigation. On Friday, the company abruptly announced it was quitting the physical commodity markets.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Barclays (BCS) is down nearly 8%. The British bank behemoth has announced plans to issue nearly $9-billion in new stock. The move is meant to get regulators off the bank's back who have been complaining of a capital shortfall. Barclays also released its quarterly report this morning, saying it lost money for the period.

Herbalife (HLF) has been up nearly 8% in early trading. Here's why: quarterly earnings released after yesterday's closing bell beat estimates. Profits were $1.41 a share when expectations were for $1.18. Revenue also topped the consensus at $1.22-billion. The supplement maker is also upping its outlook, calling for growth in the current quarter of at least 16.5% when analysts were calling for 13%. The full year outlook is also above prior estimates. Even prior to the rise we're seeing this morning, shares have been up 88% this year making Carl Icahn a considerably richer man. His foe, Bill Ackman, who has shorted the stock, not so much.

CF Industries (CF) is making moves on reports that activist investor Daniel Loeb has taken a stake in the company. Shares shot up nearly 12% yesterday. This morning however, they've been down about 3%. CF is a supplier of nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers. Producers of fertilizer have been benefiting from sharp declines in the price of natural gas. Even with yesterday's climb, the stock is down 2% year-to-date. One other note about Daniel Loeb. He's stepping up his criticism of Sony (SNE), now calling the company management "bloated."

Facebook (FB) is up just fractionally in early trading, but the stock climbed another 4.2% yesterday on continued momentum from its earnings report. The stock is now up 35% over the past week, and sits at its highest level since the day it went public. It's up 27% since the start of the year. By the way, the stock was by far the most traded one on Wall Street yesterday with almost 122-million shares changing hands.

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