Citigroup, Qualcomm: Stocks to Watch

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These stocks were in the headlines ahead of Monday's trading session:

Citigroup ( C):

Citigroup reported second-quarter earnings of $2.95 billion, or 95 cents a share, on revenue of $18.64 billion. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a profit of 89 cents a share on revenue of $18.76 billion.

Excluding one-time items, the bank earned $3.08 billion, or $1 per share, in the latest quarter.

"Our core businesses performed well in a difficult environment and are generating solid returns," said Vikram Pandit, Citigroup's CEO, in a press release. "We had strong growth in both loans and deposits, showed resilience in our markets-facing businesses, and saw record revenues in Transaction Services. We reduced Citi Holdings to approximately 10% of our balance sheet while our capital strength and liquidity continue to be among the best in the industry. We remain focused on execution, managing our expenses and our risk, and serving clients as only we can."

Also, news surfaced over the weekend that Citigroup reportedly plans to seek permission to increase its dividend by the end of this year. The bank currently has a minimal penny per share quarterly payout following the financial crisis.

"I believe we will be in good shape and have the capital to be able to do that by the end of the year," Pandit reportedly told U.K. newspaper Sunday Telegraph. "That's a decision that will have to be taken with our regulators and we will have those conversations at the end of the year."

Citigroup shares closed Friday at $26.65, down nearly 4% year-to-date. The stock was last quoted at $27.27, up 2.3%, on volume of more than 1.6 million, according to Nasdaq.com.

Qualcomm ( QCOM):

Qualcomm was upgrade to hold from sell at Societe Generale early Monday with the firm arguing that uncertainties ahead of the company's fiscal third-quarter report appear to be "priced in" at current levels.

"Visibility on Qualcomm's trading in mid-2012 is lower than normal. Its customers are facing radically divergent trends, supply issues continue and overall market unit growth looks to be wilting under macroeconomic drag," wrote the firm, which has a $57 price target on the stock. "We expect that all of these issues will colour Qualcomm's outlook comments as regards its Q4 14, the Q3 12 calendar period. While Qualcomm normally sees quieter seasonal trends in its Q2/3 periods, this could be more pronounced than normal this year. This however is likely already reflected in the shares. In addition, competition in its main mobile processor platforms market is increasing, but so far it appears to be maintaining its sector leadership."

The San Diego-based wireless chip technology company is slated to report its quarterly results on Wednesday. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a profit of 86 cents a share in the June-ended period on revenue of $4.68 billion.

Qualcomm shares closed Friday at $54.98, down 1.8% so far in 2012. The stock is down more than 20% since hitting a 52-week high of $68.87 on March 27. At current levels, the shares trade at a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 13.3X.

Par Pharmaceutical ( PRX):

Shares of Par Pharmaceutical soared early Monday after the company agreed to be acquired by buyout firm TPG for $1.9 billion. The deal values Par shares at $50 each in cash, a premium of more than 35% to Friday's close at $36.58.


Under the terms of the deal, Par, a Woodcliffe, N.J.-based maker of both generic and proprietary drugs, now enters a go-shop period that allows it to solicit a superior proposal from third parties through Aug. 24.

If another offer doesn't materialize, the transaction is expected to close in 2012, subject to customary approvals and closing conditions.

MasterCard ( MA) and Visa ( V):

The credit card companies announced their agreement late Friday to settle class action litigation with U.S. retailers. Visa said it's paying $4.4 billion, while MasterCard said its share of the cash portion of the settlement is $790 million.

Visa expects to record a $4.1 billion charge in the June-ended quarter in relation to the settlement.

The agreement settles claims by retailers that credit card companies conspired to fix the fees they charge retailers and opens the door for retailers to begin charging consumers extra to use credit cards.

Shares of both Visa and MasterCard were moving higher in premarket action.

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