Updated from 8:03 a.m. ET to include Electronic Arts, Best Buy news.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These stocks were making headlines before Thursday's opening bell. Electronic Arts ( EA): Shares of the game developer were surging following a report saying the company was attracting buyout interest from private equity firms. The New York Post, citing undisclosed sources, said the company, whose titles include The Sims and Medal of Honor, has been approached by KKR and Providence Equity Partners about a potential transaction but characterized the discussions as "early days." The stock was up more than 11% at $14.54 on volume of less than 500,000. Best Buy ( BBY)" Richard Schulze, the founder and former chairman of Best Buy, reiterated his offer to acquire the consumer electronics retailer for between $24 and $26 per share on Thursday. In a letter to the company's board, Schulze requested permission to "form a group and conduct basic due diligence so that he can present a fully financed offer for the company," according to a press release. "I am deeply concerned about the direction of the company and, as Best Buy's largest shareholder, I cannot simply stand aside. I still hope to work with the Board on a mutually beneficial transaction - but you should know that I am not going away," he stated in the letter."All I am asking is your permission to conduct due diligence and form a group so that I can quickly be in a position to give the Board a fully financed offer for your consideration. My need for due diligence is limited to financial data and the standard corporate information necessary to secure financing." Schulze said he expects the offer to be "financed through a combination of private equity investment, my own substantial equity investment and debt financing." The stock closed Wednesday's regular session at $19.36. Cisco ( CSCO): Shares of the Dow component were on the rise ahead of the open after the networking giant topped Wall Street's expectations for its quarterly results and announced a healthy 75% boost to its quarterly dividend. Chief Financial Officer Frank Calderoni said Cisco is committed to returning a minimum of 50% of its free cash flow to shareholders on an annual basis through dividends and buybacks. "Our financial strength gives us the confidence to commit and execute against this strategy, in order to provide meaningful return to our shareholders," he stated in a press release. Cisco shares closed Wednesday's regular session at $17.35, and were last quoted at $18.47 in pre-market trades. Wal-Mart ( WMT) The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailing giant reported second-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $4 billion, or $1.18 a share, with net sales totaling $113.5 billion, up 4.5% year-over-year. Total revenue came in at $114.3 billion. Excluding fuel, same-store sales rose 2.5% in the quarter. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit $1.17 a share in the July-ended period on revenue of $115.8 billion. "Walmart had a strong second quarter, and I'm pleased with the earnings and overall results," said Mike Duke, the company's president and CEO, in a press release. "We had positive comp sales in Walmart U.S. and Sam's Club, as well as each of our International markets, reinforcing that customers rely on Walmart to help them save money and live better." Wal-Mart said it now sees earnings from continuing operations of $1.04 to $1.09 a share for the third quarter and it lifted its outlook for the full year to $4.83 to $4.93 a share, up from a prior range of $4.73 to $4.92 a share. The current consensus views are for a profit of $1.05 a share in the third quarter and $4.93 a share for the year. Sears Holdings ( SHLD): Sears posted a loss from continuing operations of $132 million, or $1.25 a share, for its fiscal second quarter with revenue coming in at $9.47 billion. The company said same-store sales fell 2.9% in the quarter at its namesake domestic stores, while Kmart saw a comparable sales decline of 4.7% and Sears Canada's same-store sales dropped 7.1%. The company's adjusted loss for the quarter, excluding items, was 86 cents a share. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a loss of 86 cents a share on revenue of $9.63 billion. Sears said it expects to close its partial spinoff of Sears Canada in the second half of 2012 and complete its Sears Hometown transaction in the third quarter. The stock was up 2% to $57.70 in pre-market action.
NetApp ( NTAP): The storage and data management technology company reported an above-consensus profit in its latest quarter and gave a solid outlook late Wednesday. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp reported a non-GAAP profit of $156 million, or 42 cents a share, for its fiscal first quarter ended in July on revenue of $1.445 billion. The performance was down from year-ago equivalent earnings of $222 million, or 55 cents a share, but ahead of the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 38 cents a share. The revenue total was a bit shy of Wall Street expectations of $1.457 billion. The stock gained nearly 6% in Wednesday's after-hours trades. Kinder Morgan ( KMI): JPMorgan raised its rating on the Houston-based energy company early Thursday to overweight from neutral and lifted its 12-month price target to $39 from $34. "With the successful completion of a sizeable $6.2bn initial KMP drop-down and the supporting equity issuance, we are updating our thesis and estimates to reflect what we believe is a favorable risk/reward proposition at KMI," the firm said. "After acquiring El Paso, Kinder Morgan is now the third-largest domestic energy company, with a combined corporate family EV of ~$100bn. We believe that this level of scale, diversification, growth and stability makes KMI a core holding for investors seeking exposure to the significant energy infrastructure build-out necessitated by expanding unconventional production." Kinder Morgan shares closed Wednesday at $34.49, up nearly 39% in the past year. Staples ( SPLS): Citigroup cut its rating on the office products retailer to sell in the wake of its disappointing second-quarter results. "Our downgrade is driven by: 1) increased potential for margin pressure from neweCommerce pricing initiatives, 2) a deteriorating European macro environment, and 3) a secularly challenged business with high tech product mix, but lack of Apple products in the US. We believe there is potential for further downward movement for the stock as LT investors are likely to unwind positions and wait for a restructuring plan to materialize," said the firm, which lowered its price target on the stock to $10. Staples shares finished Wednesday's regular session at $11.49, down 15% in the past year. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.