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Disney Reporting; Viagra’s Easier Sell; Microsoft Fighting Slump

Hot Stock Minute

Deja vu all over again, as the S&P will open at a record level. The index ended yesterday's regular session higher than ever before at 1,617. The dow slipped slightly, but 15,000 remains within easy reach.

Later today we find out how much magic Disney (DIS) has been making. It releases quarterly earnings after the closing bell. The stock hit its all-time high yesterday. Shares are up 50% in the past year, and most analysts still rate the company a buy. Of course we've all been hearing about the Mouse House's latest Iron Man movie which has already raked-in $600 million globally. That's not part of the quarter gone by. Some things that are: another hit film, Oz: The Great and Powerful. Disney has also inked new deals with cable companies for its cash cow ESPN. And it has been capitalizing on LucasFilm, its recent $4-billion purchase, just yesterday announcing a deal with video game maker Electronic Arts (EA). Consensus is for the company to earn 76-cents a share, a 32% rise over last year. Revenue should be about $10.5-billion.

The fight over online sales taxes now moves to the House of Representatives. A bill sailed through the Senate yesterday. The plan would affect online retailers with more than a-million dollars in annual sales. States could force them to collect sales taxes from all customers and send them in. The states would have to provide software to help businesses make the right calculations. If the measure passes the House that would eliminate a competitive advantage for online retailers like Amazon and eBay, but that's a big if. Republicans are divided on the plan, and so far they haven't scheduled hearings or a vote.

Now you can buy Viagra online, legitimately. Pfizer (PFE) has set up a new website in conjunction with CVS caremark. It began operating yesterday. Pfizer says this is a way to fight counterfeiting. The company also predicts the move will boost sales by eliminating the embarrassment of making a trip to the drug store. However, men will still need to visit a doctor to get a prescription.

Microsoft (MSFT) is looking for a new Window of opportunity by making what the financial times cast as one of the most prominent admissions of failure for a new mass-market consumer product. The FT reports the company is expected to announce an update to its Windows 8 operating system reversing course over key aspects of how the software is used. Windows 8 is Microsoft's first operating system designed primarily for touch screens. The changes should make it easier for the operating system to work on smaller tablets. Despite the troubles Microsoft stock has still managed to hit a new 52-week high, just shy of $34 a share.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Electronic Arts (EA) is up nearly 3% in early trading. Shares were also up several points yesterday on announcement of a deal with Disney to make "Star Wars" branded video games. Electronic Arts is also releasing its quarterly report after today's closing bell-- just like Disney. It was during the past quarter that the company changed CEOs. Electronic Arts is expected to post earnings of 58-cents a share, more than triple the amount a year ago. Revenue is also expected to rise above $1-billion.

Next up is Crestwood Midstream Partners (CMLP), which is reporting its earnings this morning. The company missed pretty badly, logging just 7-cents a share when estimates were for 12-cents. It also missed on revenue. Just yesterday Crestwood announced a $7-billion merger with Inergy Midstream (NRGM). Both companies specialize in pipeline and storage services for shale fields. Rapid growth in the industry has created demand for new energy infrastructure. The announcement sent shares 3.5% higher. The stock is up about 11%year to date.

Now, BroadSoft (BSFT) which is currently up 10% in premarket trading. The software maker posted earnings of 18-cents a share when it released its quarterly report after yesterday's closing bell. That easily beat estimates of 11-cents. Revenue was also higher than the consensus. BroadSoft says it's benefitting as customers switch their data storage to the cloud. Billings were up 16% from a year ago. Shares of BroadSoft plummeted almost 30% in February when the company lowered its outlook, but have been climbing back since then.

Finally, there's MBIA (MBI) which is up another 4% today after skyrocketing an astounding 45% yesterday. The stock shot up on the announcement of a $1.7-billion settlement with Bank of America (BAC). MBIA was suing BofA over bad mortgage backed securities. The spike puts MBIA at a 52-week high, and means shares have risen 75% since the start of the year.

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