NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Amazon.com (AMZN - Get Report), the Internet retailing giant , posted fourth-quarter sales below analysts' estimates and said it could report a first-quarter operating loss.
Amazon posted fourth-quarter earnings of $177 million, or 38 cents a share, on sales of $17.43 billion.
The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for earnings of 17 cents a share in the quarter on sales of $18.25 billion.
Amazon forecast first-quarter sales of $12 billion to $13.4 billion, and operating results between a loss of $200 million and a profit of $100 million, "or between 162% decline and 69% decline compared with first quarter 2011."Analysts were looking for earnings of 33 cents a share in the first quarter on sales of $13.41 billion. The shares were falling 9.3% to $176.40 in premarket trading Wednesday..
Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext (NYX) said Wednesday they are in talks to call off their planned $10 billion merger after the European Commission formerly opposed the deal. The European competition commission concluded the deal would have created a company too near to a monopoly in Europe for financial derivatives trading and "considers the merger to be inadmissible under competition law," Deutsche Boerse said in a statement. "This is a black day for Europe and for its future competitiveness on global financial markets," Deutsche Börse's board said. "The E.U. Commission's decision is based on an unrealistically narrow definition of the market that does no justice to the global nature of competition in the market for derivatives." Meanwhile, in response to the European Commission's prohibition on the merger, NYSE Euronext announced it will resume a $550 million share buyback after its fourth-quarter earnings announcement on Feb. 10. NYSE Euronext shares were increasing 4% to $27.63 in premarket trading.
Chipmaker Broadcom (BRCM - Get Report) beat Wall Street expectations on the top and bottom lines in the fourth quarter, and gave a solid outlook for the current three months. Broadcom reported fourth-quarter non-GAAP profit of $395 million, or 68 cents a share, on revenue of $1.82 billion, ahead of the average analysts' expectations for a profit of 65 cents a share in the quarter on revenue of $1.80billion. Broadcom said it expects first-quarter revenue of $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion, and flat product gross margins compared to the fourth quarter. Wall Street expects fiscal first-quarter revenue of $1.73 billion. The shares were advancing 2.8% to $35.31 in early trades.
Whirlpool (WHR - Get Report) said Wednesday that fourth-quarter earnings jumped 20% to offset a drop in sales as the company cut costs. The world's largest appliance maker said net earnings climbed to $205 million, or $2.62 a share, from $171 million, or $2.19, the prior year. However, fourth-quarter sales slipped to $4.9 billion from $5 billion in fourth quarter 2010 as global demand weakened and sales were hurt by a stronger dollar. The shares were surging 8.7% to $59.05 in premarket trading.
Health insurer Aetna (AET - Get Report) said revenue surged 73% in the fourth quarter as the rate of member use of health care stayed low and the company cut costs. The Hartford, Conn.-based insurer reported earnings of $354.3 million, or 97 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, falling in line with the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Revenue climbed slightly to $8.57 billion from $8.54 billion. Aetna shares were rising 2.2% to $44.65.
Northrop Grumman (NOC - Get Report), one of the Defense Department's largest contractors, said earnings jumped to $550 million from $306 million. Adjusted earnings in the latest quarter were $1.85 a share. The maker of the U.S. military's Global Hawk drone blew past analysts' estimates of $1.67 a share. Falls Church, Va.-based Northrop also saw revenue slip in the quarter. Sales fell to $6.51 billion from $6.9 billion, the company reported. Northrop shares were falling 0.3% to $57.89.
AOL (AOL - Get Report) said Wednesday that profit fell less than expected in the fourth-quarter. The dial-up Internet company reported earnings tumbled 66% to $22.8 million, or 23 cents a share, in the fourth quarter. Revenue also slipped 3% to $576.8 million. Analysts expected to see earnings of 16 cents a share. AOL shares were climbing 3.6% to $16.80.
Sony (SNE - Get Report) on Wednesday said Kazuo Hirai, vice president, will take over the roles of CEO and president on April 1 from Howard Stringer.. Stringer will remain chairman of the Japanese consumer electronics giant. Last March, Sony signaled that Hirai would be Stringer's successor by promoting him to head consumer products and services, which makes up the bulk of Sony's $85 billion in annual sales, according to Reuters.
Automakers General Motors (GM - Get Report) and Ford (F - Get Report) report January sales.
-- Written by Joseph Woelfel and Kaitlyn Kiernan
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