Stocks to Watch: Darden, Clearwire, Alpha Natural

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Darden Restaurants ( DRI) said it expects earnings of 41 cents a share for its fiscal second quarter ended Nov. 27, below the average analyst expectation of 54 cents.

Darden said it expects earnings per share growth of 4% to 7% in fiscal 2012. The company also reported that it anticipates combined U.S. same-restaurant sales growth for the second quarter to be about 1.8% for Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse and 3.9% for its specialty restaurant group.

Darden shares were dropping 8.2% to $43.80 in premarket trading Tuesday.


Mobile broadband services company Clearwire ( CLWR) said late Monday that it plans to offer $300 million of stock in a public offering.

Shares were tumbling 4% to $2.16.


Alpha Natural Resources ( ANR) will pay $200 million to resolve civil and criminal penalties linked to a disaster that killed 29 coal miners last year and other liabilities it inherited when it bought Massey Energy in June, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing several people familiar with the settlement.

The accident at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va., was the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.

The settlement is expected to be announced Tuesday morning.

Alpha Natural Resources shares were falling 1.8% to $24.73.


BP ( BP) leveled some serious charges against Halliburton ( HAL) in their court fight over who is to blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April 2010.

BP has accused a unit of Halliburton of destroying pertinent test results in a court filing, Bloomberg reported.

A Halliburton spokesperson told Bloomberg the company is reviewing the motion filed by BP.

BP shares were up 0.7% to $43.86 and Halliburton shares were flat at $37.


Ford ( F) has started a search for candidates to replace current CEO Alan Mulally, who is expected to leave the company within two years, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A Ford spokeswoman said there is no search underway.

Candidates for the position include at least two former Ford executives as well as two internal candidates, the people said, the Journal reported. The internal candidates are Americas President Mark Fields, and Joe Hinrichs, the chief of Asian operations.

External candidates include John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor's North American arm, and Phil Martens, CEO of Novelis, the newspaper said.

Ford shares were down 0.5% to $11.06.


Verizon Wireless ( VZ) is blocking Google ( GOOG) from installing the Google Wallet payments app on the Galaxy Nexus.

The Galaxy Nexus is a smartphone developed by Google and Samsung Electronics.

Google Wallet allows users make payments, redeem digital coupons and earn loyalty points with merchants via their phones.

A Google spokesman told the Journal that Verizon asked it not to include Google Wallet on the new Galaxy Nexus and that consumers won't be able to download it through the Android app market.

"Verizon asked us not to include this functionality in the product," the spokesman said.

Verizon has formed a joint venture with AT&T ( T) and T-Mobile USA called Isis that lets people make payments and redeem offers via their smartphones . It's expected to begin trials next year, the Journal said.

Google shares were flat at $625.28.


Home improvement retailer Lowe's ( LOW) reiterated its fiscal-year earnings and sales guidance. The company said ahead of its investor conference Tuesday that it expects its fiscal-year earnings ending Feb.3, 2012, to be in the range of $1.37 to $1.40 a share, which includes a 20-cents-a share impact from changes related to store closings and cancelled projects.

Total sales are expected to increase 2% to 3%. But the company expects comparable-store sales to decline about 1%.


Diversified company 3M ( MMM) says it will affirm its 2011 earnings-per-share expectation of $5.85 to $5.95 and provide a roadmap for the company's 2012 earnings-per-share expectation of $6.25 to $6.50 at an investor meeting Tuesday.

The company anticipates 2012 sales of $30.2 billion to $31.5 billion and operating margins of 21% to 22.5% during this period.


Wireless communications services provider Leap ( LEAP) said it agreed to buy mobile spectrum from Verizon for $204 million. Meanwhile, Verizon will buy excess spectrum from Leap for $188 million.


Toll Brothers ( TOL), the homebuilder, posted fourth-quarter earnings of $15 million, or 9 cents a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $50.5 million, or 30 cents.

The year-earlier quarter included a tax benefit of $59.9 million.

Revenue rose 6% to $427.8 million.

Analysts expected Toll to earn 5 cents a share in the quarter on revenue of $424.3 million.

Toll estimated it would deliver between 2,400 and 3,200 homes in fiscal 2012 at an average price of between $550,000 and $575,000 per home.


AutoZone ( AZO), the car parts retailer, reported first-quarter earnings of $4.68 a share on revenue of $1.9 billion, above the average analyst estimate of $4.44 a share on revenue of $1.89 billion. Domestic same-store sales increased 4.6% for the quarter.


The Men's Wearhouse ( MW), the men's suit retailer, is expected by analysts Tuesday to report earnings of 65 cents a share on revenue of $570.94 million.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel and Andrea Tse

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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