HEADLINE STOCKS-U.S. stocks to watch on March 13

Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:24am EDT

 NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks to watch on
Friday:
 CITIGROUP (C.N)
 Richard Parsons, the chairman of Citigroup, told Reuters
late Thursday the bank didn't need any more capital injections
from the government. He also expressed confidence that the bank
would remain in private hands, and brushed aside any prospect
of the U.S. government nationalizing the bank.
 Recently, the U.S. government said it would boost its
equity stake in Citigroup as much as 36 percent through the
conversion of up to $25 billion in preferred shares of common
stock. Parsons said that after these actions, "Citi is actually
one of the better capitalized banks in the world."
 For details, see [ID:nN12399663]
 Shares of Citigroup surged 7.8 percent to $1.80 in
premarket trade.
 BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY (BRKa.N)
 Fitch cut its rating on Warren Buffett's insurance and
investment company, dropping it one notch to 'AA+' from 'AAA.'
The agency cited concerns about Berkshire's equity and
derivatives investments, as well as Buffett's tight grip on the
company.
 "Fitch views the company's potential earnings and capital
volatility derived from its large, unhedged market exposures as
inconsistent with the stability required at the 'AAA' level,"
the rating agency said in a statement. [ID:nSP445216]
 Shares of Berkshire closed Thursday at $85,700.
 WAL-MART STORES (WMT.N)
 Goldman Sachs on Friday removed Wal-Mart from its
conviction buy list, saying it seemed less likely that the
discount retailer would raise its first-quarter outlook,
following the release of its March retail sales.
 The firm kept its buy rating on the stock, a Dow
component.
 Shares of Wal-Mart slid 0.5 percent to $48.71 in premarket
trade.
 MERCK & CO (MRK.N)
 Bernstein on Friday upgraded Merck to outperform from
market perform, saying the pharmaceutical company's valuation
was "too low for a best-in-class grower."
 The firm added that it was in favor of the company's
recently-announced decision to buy Schering-Plough SGP.N, "a
company with one of the best longer-term outlooks," it said.
 "Merck seems to be paying a very fair price for what
Schering-Plough has to offer, in our view," Bernstein added,
raising its price target on the company to $30 from $27.
 AMERICAN AXLE & MANUFACTURING (AXL.N)
 The auto supplier's auditors have said the company may go
out of business, giving it a "going concern" notice because of
pressure on its main customers, General Motors (GM.N) and
Chrysler.
 "As a result of the current automotive industry environment
and the uncertainty relating to the ability of GM and Chrysler
to continue operating as going concerns... it is uncertain
whether we will be in compliance with the financial
covenants... throughout 2009," the company wrote in a filing.
[ID:nN13423662]
 Shares of the company closed Thursday at 75 cents.
 PFIZER INC (PFE.N)
 WYETH WYE.N
 Pharmaceutical company Pfizer on Thursday said it had lined
up 29 additional lenders to provide all $22.5 billion in loans
for its planned $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth. Pfizer had
previously secured five lenders.
 "We've achieved a significant milestone," a Pfizer
spokeswoman said, adding that the larger slate of lenders gave
more security that the deal would be completed, as none were
loaning Pfizer more than $1.5 billion. [ID:nLD617034]
 Shares of Pfizer slid 0.5 percent to $13.95 in premarket
trade while Wyeth shares closed Thursday at $42.78.
 SARA LEE CORP SLE.N
 The food company is considering a sale of its European
household and personal-care business, according to a report in
the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the
matter.
 While it is unclear if any deal will occur, the company has
hired Goldman Sachs to sound out possible bidders for the unit,
which could fetch more than $2 billion, the paper said.
 Colgate-Palmolive (CL.N) was mentioned as a possible bidder
by the Journal. [ID:nBNG131621]
 Shares of Sara Lee closed Thursday at $7.27 while Colgate
shares closed at $56.51.
 SMITH & WESSON HOLDINGS CORP (SWHC.O)
 The U.S. firearms maker reported a higher-than-expected
third-quarter profit, helped by a double-digit growth in the
sales of handguns and tactical rifles. Shares of the company
rose 10 percent after the bell. They closed at $4.59 Thursday
on Nasdaq.
 (Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica)


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