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Updated with earnings from Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Northrop, Freeport-McMoRan.




) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009.

Wednesday's Earnings Roundup

  • Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Free Report reported a third-quarter profit of $3.24 billion, or 56 cents a share, coming in well ahead of the Thomson Reuters average estimate of 37 cents a share. Wells said current projections show credit losses peaking in 2010, with consumer losses potentially peaking in first half of the year and gradually declining, absent further economic deterioration. The bank did say that third quarter net charge-offs were $5.1 billion, compared with second quarter net charge-offs of $4.4 billion.
  • Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Free Report notched a third-quarter profit of $757 million, or 38 cents a share. Revenue climbed 13% from a year ago to $8.67 billion. On average, analysts were looking for a profit of 27 cents a share on revenue of $7 billion.
  • Boeing (BA) - Get Free Report posted a third-quarter net loss of $1.56 billion, or $2.23 a share, swinging from a year-ago profit of 96 cents a share. Analysts were looking for a loss of $2.12 a share, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenue rose 9% from last year to $16.7 billion, falling short of the $17.16 billion consensus. Boeing also dropped it earnings guidance for 2009 to between $1.35 and $1.55 a share, from $4.70 to $5.00 a share, due to a 787 cost reclassification and a charge for increased costs of the 747. Boeing did affirm full-year revenue guidance of $68 billion to $69 billion, which is above consensus.
  • Altria (MO) - Get Free Report reported third-quarter earnings of $882 million, or 42 cents a share, nearly unchanged from the year-ago quarter. Excluding one-time items, Altria earned 48 cents a share, beating the average analyst estimate of 46 cents a share. Revenue rose 20% from a year earlier to $6.3 billion, well above the Thomson Reuters consensus of $4.65 billion.
  • Eli Lilly (LLY) - Get Free Report swung to a third-quarter profit of $941.8 million, or 86 cents a share. Lilly said adjusted third-quarter earnings totaled $1.20 a share, better than the Thomson Reuters average estimate of $1.02 a share. Revenue in the quarter rose to $5.56 billion from $5.21 billion last year and came in above analysts' views of $5.41 billion.
  • Northrop Grumman (NOC) - Get Free Report said it had third-quarter earnings of $490 million, or $1.53 a share, while revenue rose 4% from a year ago to $8.73 billion. Analysts were looking for a profit of $1.18 a share on revenue of $8.58 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. Northrop also raised its full-year earnings guidance to a range of $5 to $5.15 a share, up fro the previous range of $4.65 to $4.90 a share and better than the consensus target of $4.85 a share.
  • Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) - Get Free Report reported a third-quarter profit of $925 million, or $2.07 a share, up sharply from a year ago. Revenue dropped 10.2% from a year ago to $4.14 billion. The Thomson Reuters consensus estimate was for earnings of $1.34 a share on revenue of $4.24 billion.

Wednesday's Early Headlines

  • BOE's King Suggests Splitting Up Big Banks -- Bloomberg reports that Bank of England Governor Mervyn King warned of the dangers posed by banks that are "too important to fail," indicating that one solution could be to split up large banks and separate riskier activities from more stable businesses such as taking deposits. "The massive support extended to the banking sector around the world, while necessary to avert economic disaster, has created possibly the biggest moral hazard in history," King said in a speech, according to the report.
  • Geithner Says Some TARP Programs to End -- Reuters reports that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Obama administration will close some programs at the heart of the $700 billion financial bailout. Geithner told Reuters the administration will begin to wind down the programs that initially defined the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and will instead focus on more targeted programs in principal areas where there's still weakness in terms of access to credit.
  • Sun Microsystems Slashes 3,000 Jobs -- Sun Microsystems (JAVA) has announced plans to cut 3,000 jobs as the tech giant awaits EU approval of its $7.4 billion acquisition by Oracle (ORCL) - Get Free Report. Sun said in a regulatory filing that the headcount reduction was forced by the delay in closing the deal. The cuts will come over the next 12 months, with the company incurring charges between $75 million and $125 million. Most of the charges will be incurred in the second and third quarters of fiscal 2010, Sun added.
  • Merrill's European Head of Wealth Management Quits -- Bloomberg reports that Bank of America (BAC) - Get Free ReportMerrill Lynch's European head of wealth management, Eva Castillo, will leave the firm at the end of the year. No replacement has been named for Castillo, who is leaving to pursue other career and personal opportunities.