Stocks to Watch: Oracle, Geron, Knight, Big Lots (Update 1)

NEW YORK -- Oracle ( ORCL) accelerated its upcoming dividend payments for three quarters.

The software giant accelerated its second, third and fourth-quarter cash dividend totaling 18 cents a share to be payable on Dec. 21 ahead of a proposed hike on dividend tax rates from President Obama and the White House. The accelerated dividend will be paid in lieu of dividends in 2013.

Oracle noted that CEO Larry Ellison, the company's largest shareholder, did not participate or vote on the matter. However, Ellison, who holds about 1.1 billion shares of Oracle stock, will receive estimated dividend payments of $198.9 million.

Ahead of Tax Hike Fears, Oracle Accelerates Dividends

Oracle shares were down 0.5% to $32.16 in premarket trading Tuesday.

Geron ( GERN) said it would end development of GRN1005, an experimental brain cancer drug, and plans to undergo a a restructuring that includes cutting its work force by 40%. It also said it plans to replace its chief financial officer.

Geron shares were falling 18.2% in premarket trading to $1.21.

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Cerberus Capital Management is in talks to join Virtu Financial's bid for brokerage Knight Capital Group ( KCG), The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

New York's Virtu, a high-frequency trading firm, is going up against rival Getco in the bid to acquire market-maker Knight.

Knight shares rose 0.6% to $3.35 in premarket trading Tuesday.

Big Lots ( BIG) posted a third-quarter loss of 10 cents a share on sales of $1.13 billion. Analysts forecast a loss of 24 cents a share on revenue of $1.14 billion. The retailer raised its outlook for the year.

Big Lots rose 6.8% to $29.94 in premarket trading.

Pep Boys ( PBY) said on Monday it swung to a third-quarter loss as revenue in the quarter fell 2.4% to $509.6 million. Same-store sales during the quarter decreased 2.7%.

Pep Boys fell 7.4% to $9.89 in premarket trading.

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AutoZone ( AZO) said first-quarter profit rose 6.4% to $203.5 million, or $5.41 a share, as sales rose to $1.99 billion from $1.92 billion.

Analysts expected AutoZone to post fiscal first-quarter earnings of $5.39 a share on revenue of $2.02 billion.

AutoZone also said Tuesday it purchased assets of online retailer AutoAnything.

AutoZone shares fell 0.5% to $376.

Qualcomm ( QCOM) plans to invest about $120 million in Sharp, the struggling Japanese TV maker.

Homebuilder Toll Brothers ( TOL)said Tuesday that fourth-quarter rose to $411.42 million or $2.35 a share, from $15.04 million, or 9 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included a net tax benefit of $350.7 million.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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