Stocks to Watch: Apple, Williams-Sonoma, McDonald's (Update 1)

NEW YORK -- Apple ( AAPL) and five of the biggest U.S. publishers have been warned by the Justice Department it plans to sue them for allegedly colluding to raise the price of electronic books, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Several of the parties have held talks to settle the antitrust case and head off a court battle, the people told the newspaper. A successful settlement could potentially lead to cheaper e-books for consumers.

The five publishers facing a potential suit are CBS' ( CBS) Simon & Schuster; Lagardere's Hachette Book Group; Pearson's ( PSO) Penguin Group (USA); Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and HarperCollins Publishers, a unit of News Corp. ( NWSA).

Apple unveiled a new version of its iPad tablet on Wednesday.

Shares were up 0.7% to $534.41 in premarket trading.


The U.S. Treasury is selling $6 billion worth of its bailout-related holdings in insurance giant American International Group ( AIG).

AIG is expected to purchase up to $3 billion worth of the stock being sold by the Treasury, which will still hold nearly $42 billion sunk into the company following its 2008 bailout.

Shares were down 1.8% to $28.92.


Specialty retailer Williams-Sonoma ( WSM) beat estimates by posting fourth-quarter earnings of $1.17 a share on revenue of $1.27 billion. Analysts were looking for profit of $1.13 a share on sales of $1.25 billion.

For the first quarter, the company gave earnings guidance of 29 cents to 32 cents a shareon revenue ranging from $800 million to $820 million. Analysts forecast earnings of 33 cents a share on revenue of $805.2 million.

Shares were lower by 0.4% to $37.69.


McDonald's ( MCD) said Thursday February global comparable-store sales rose 7.5%.

U.S. same-store sales jumped 11%, "supported by strong customer demand for Chicken McBites, classic core favorites including Filet-O-Fish, signature beverage offerings, and McDonald's breakfast line-up," the company said.

Shares fell 3.7% to $96.46 in premarket trading.


CalSTRS, the California teachers pension fund, plans to vote against Kinder Morgan's ( KMI) $23 billion acquisition of El Paso ( EP).

"We have concerns with the lack of transparency and the apparent conflicts of interest that have surrounded the share appraisal process and we believe that shareholders may not receive full value for their shares should this transaction, as currently structured, be consummated," said a CalSTRS spokesman.


Chipmaker Altera ( ALTR) is expected to post fourth-quarter earnings of 37 cents a share, down from 68 cents a share a year earlier.

Analysts forecast revenue of $427.11 million.


Men's Wearhouse ( MW) saw its fourth-quarter losses narrow as the retail clothing store was able to increase selling prices in the U.S. and its gross margins. Sales grew 3.7% to $562.2 million, short of the $563.17 expected. Losses came in at 7 cents a share, narrower than 27 cents a share in the period a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a loss of 13 cents a share, excluding special items.

For the fiscal year, the company gave earnings guidance of $2.70 to $2.78 a share.

Shares were falling 0.2% to $40.12 before the open.


-- Written by Joseph Woelfel and Chao Deng.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel

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