MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, August 18, 2008

Before the bell: Futures higher ahead of housing data; UB, FRE, LOW, HSY

UnionBanCal (NYSE: UB) accepted a sweetened bid from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE: MTU). After rejecting two previous offers, UB accepted MTU's offer to pay $3.5 billion, or $73.50 a share, for the remaining 35% portion of the California bank that it doesn't already own. UB shares are trading 11.85% higher in premarket action.

Staying in financials, Lehman Brothers (NYSE: LEH) may see some action after The Wall Street Journal said some analysts believe it could lose $1.8 billion during the quarter. LEH shares are 2% lower in premarket trading. Meanwhile, Barron's said a government recapitalization of Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) is almost inevitable, wiping out investors -- and management. Shares are 2% and 6% lower respectively in premarket trading.

Lowe's (NYSE: LOW), the home improvement retail chain, reported results this morning. Lowe's profit fell for the fourth straight quarter as the biggest U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression slowed spending. Net income declined 7.9% to $938 million, or 64 cents a share, exceeding analysts' estimates by 8 cents. Sales rose to $14.5 billion from $14.2 billion. Lowe's raised guidance, but stayed within estimates.

Mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) reported Monday a record annual profit and said it expects demand for commodities to remain strong. Net profit for the year ended June 30 climbed 14.7% to $15.39 billion,in line with analysts' forecasts. "The continuing massive industrialization in China is providing solid support to the global economy," the company said in a statement.

Shares in Hershey Co. (NYSE: HSY) narrowed its 2008 earnings and revenue guidance and said t would raise wholesale prices by around 11% to offset the impact of soaring commodities costs. Citigroup also downgraded HSY from Buy to Hold. Shares could come under pressure.

Quest (NYSE: Q), the telecommunications carrier, reached a tentative deal with two unions early Monday, averting a possible strike that may have affected the services it is to provide to the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week and the Republican National Convention that begins Sept. 1 in St. Paul, Minn.

Before the bell: Futures higher ahead of housing data; UB, FRE, LOW, HSY ... - BloggingStocks



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