Market Focus

Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard’s board approved a ten percent hike to its quarterly dividend. The increase is expected to go into effect in May. Separately, at the company’s annual shareholder meeting yesterday, CEO Meg Whitman hinted that HP might enter the 3D printer market. Shares fell a fraction to $31.48.

Conagra Foods

Shares of Conagra Foods rose on better than expected earnings. Profits at the maker of Hunt’s Ketchup and Healthy Choice doubled and sales surged thanks to the strength of its private-label brands business. Its packaged-foods company continued to struggle and sales just missed Wall Street’s estimates. Still Conagra shares were up more than one percent to $29.99.

Lennar

Lennar reported better than expected quarterly results thanks to a jump in home deliveries and selling prices. Earnings jumped almost 35 percent and revenue surged almost 38 percent, but the home builder said it is still too early to predict the strength of the spring selling season. Shares fell about 2.5 percent to $40.32.

Johnson & Johnson

An Arkansas court tossed out a $1.2 billion ruling against Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit accused the drug maker of improperly marketing its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal and concealing its risks. The judge overturned that ruling saying the law didn’t apple to pharmaceutical companies. Shares of Johnson & Johnson were up a fraction to $94.12.

Symantec

Symantec, the maker of Norton anti-virus software fired its CEO Steve Bennett. A company board member was appointed Interim President and CEO. This is the second time the company had fired its top executive in less than two years. Shares initially fell after hours. The stock ended the regular session up more than 1.5 percent to $20.91.

Walter Energy

Shares of Walter Energy fell sharply after the company announced it would sell a sizable about of debt. It was also down, along with other coal stocks, on a downgrade from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The firm lowered its price targets and earnings estimates on many coal sector players, saying falling marginal costs will depress coal prices. Walter Energy fell 20 percent to $7.27.

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