Stocks to Watch: Apple, Amazon, Merck

NEW YORK -- Apple ( AAPL) delivered Thursday a below-consensus quarterly profit but topped Wall Street's revenue expectations.

Apple reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 a share, on revenue of $36 billion, up from year-earlier profit of $6.6 billion, or $7.05 a share, on revenue of $28.3 billion.

Analysts were looking for the iPad, iPhone and iPod maker to post earnings of $8.75 a share on revenue of $35.8 billion.

The company sold 26.9 million iPhones, 14 million iPads, 5.3 million iPods and 4.9 million Macs during the quarter. There were some concerns over iPhone sales this quarter, as supply constraints weighed heavily. IPad sales were light, as many on Wall Street were expecting sales of about 15 million to 16 million iPads.

Apple's Shot Heard Round the World ( AMZN), the online retailer, came up up short in its latest quarter despite a year-over-year sales increase of nearly 30%.

Amazon posted a loss of $274 million, or 60 cents a share, for the third quarter on sales of $13.81 billion. In the same period a year earlier, Amazon earned $63 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $10.88 billion.

The latest quarter includes a loss of $169 million, or 37 cents a share, related to asset impairment at its LivingSocial unit.

Analysts were expecting Amazon to post a quarterly loss of 8 cents a share in the September-ended period on revenue of $13.92 billion.

Operating margins came in at negative 0.2%, declining for a third straight quarter.

For the fourth quarter, Amazon forecast between an operating loss of $490 million and an operating profit of $310 million with sales between $20.25 billion and $22.75 billion.

Amazon, Coinstar: After-Hours Trading

Drugmaker Merck ( MRK) is expected by analysts Friday to post third-quarter earnings of 92 cents a share on revenue of $11.57 billion in the September-ended period.

Earnings are also expected Friday from the likes of Comcast ( CMCSA), Coventry Health Care ( CVH), Goodyear Tire ( GT), Legg Mason ( LM), Moody's ( MCO), Newell Rubbermaid ( NWL), Starwood Financial ( SFI) and Weyerhaeuser ( WY).

Dean Foods ( DF) Morningstar business has attracted takeover interest from Michael Foods and Mexican dairy company Grupo Lala, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, in a deal that could be valued in the $1 billion to $1.5 billion range.

Wal-Mart ( WMT) said Friday it plans to open 100 stores in the next three years in China and add 18,000 jobs.

The pace of store openings is a slowdown from earlier growth rates for Wal-Mart in the competitive Chinese retail sector.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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