Market Focus

DuPont

An activist investor is calling for DuPont to split into two, which sent its shares higher. Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management says the chemical company should be broken up. His firm sent a letter to DuPont’s board saying DuPont’s current structure is destroying shareholder value. It suggests creating one public company of its faster-growing segments and another with its operations that generate strong cash flow. Shares popped more than five percent to $69.25.

General Mills

General Mills posted results that missed on the top and bottom lines as cheaper store-branded foods are eating its profits. The Cheerios cereal maker blamed challenging market conditions in the U.S. for the miss. Also the company announced $100 million in new cost cuts. Shares tumbled about 4.5 percent to $50.83.

Microsoft

Microsoft hiked its dividend by 11 percent to 31 cents, but that’s the smallest percentage increase in the payout since 2009. Also the company appointed new directors to replace two board members who decided not to seek re-election. Shares fell slightly to $46.52.

Sony

A warning from Sony sent its shares lower. The company says it will report a much larger than expected loss of more than $2 billion for the fiscal year and it will not pay a dividend for the first time in more than fifty years. It cited a struggling smartphone business for the revision. The stock tumbled almost seven percent to $18.88.

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel said it expects its third-quarter results to top estimates. Also, the steelmaker’s Canadian unit will apply for protection from creditors as it looks at restructuring alternatives. U.S. Steel also said it won’t proceed with planned investments and expansions at its plants in Minnesota and Indiana. The stock surged 10 percent to $45.61.

Family Dollar & Dollar General

Another update in the dollar store saga. Family Dollar told shareholders to reject an unsolicited $9 billion takeover bid from its rival, Dollar General. Family Dollar is trying to arrange a sale with the other chain, Dollar Tee. Shares of both store operators were off a bit.

United Natural Foods

United Natural Foods posted strong results after the bell. The natural and organic food distributor also gave investors guidance that topped Wall Street estimates. Shares soared initially after-hours. During the regular trading day the stock was up slightly to $63.61.

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