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Merck Beats on Earnings; Apple and Herbalife Report After the Bell; Fed’s New Rules

Hot Stock Minute

Dow component Merck (MRK) is among the companies reporting earnings this morning. The drugmaker beat on the bottom line, reporting adjusted earnings of 92-cents a share when estimates were for 88-cents. Sales however were a small miss at $11.03-billion versus $11.124-billion, and profits were actually down 35% on competition from generic drugs.

Biotech Biogen Idec (BIIB) also reported. It missed estimates on earnings, by a nickel a share at $2.05. Revenues were higher than expected at $1.8-billion compared to estimates of $1.78-billion.

Burger King (BKW) also missed on the bottom line by 2-cents with earnings of 19-cents. Revenues however were higher than the consensus at $275.1-million versus $266.59-million. The chain credits climbing same-store sales overseas.

Apple (AAPL) reports after the closing bell. The stock is up about 9% in the last month. Will it jump on earnings, same as other tech companies like Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) recently did? Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli has more on Apple in the video above.

Aside from earnings, the big story this week is likely to be the two-day Fed meeting which starts tomorrow. Odds are, Ben Bernanke and crew won't start tapering the bank's bond-buying program. One thing we know for sure: whatever they decide, the group will try to keep its policy statement under wraps with some new rules. Reporters who get the statement ahead of time will be forced to remain at the bank with no internet access.

The new Jackass movie has defied "Gravity" a fourth week as box office winner. Bad Grandpa beat the space odyssey taking in $32-million. Gravity didn't fall too far, landing in second place with $20-million. Bad Grandpa was released by Paramount.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Seagate Technology (STX) reports after the closing bell. Earnings are expected to be down 10% from last year to $1.30 a share. Revenue is also predicted to dip to a figure of about $3.56-billion. Still, traders like the stock, driving it up 56% year-to-date. In fact, shares hit their 52-week high last Monday.

Herbalife (HLF) also reports after the closing bell. The company is expected to post profits of $1.14 a share, a dime better than a year ago on revenue that's up more than 17%. Of course if you're Bill Ackman you might accuse the company of being a pyramid scheme. He shorted the stock while foe Carl Icahn has made a mint, grabbing up shares. Herbalife stock has more than doubled this year, up 106%.

Also reporting this afternoon is Herbalife competitor Nutrisystem (NTRI). This stock is up 93% year-to-date. Though it's still at just about one-sixth of its all-time highs back in 2006. Profits here are expected to have slimmed down from last year to 13-cents a share from 16-cents a year ago. Consensus is for sales that have essentially been flat at $81.30-million.

Drug maker Dendreon (DNDN) has been up double-digits on a reports that the company is seeking a buyer. Right now Dendreon has just one marketed product called Provenge, which treats prostate cancer. But it has been a disappointing seller. Shares of Dendreon were down 57% year-to-date prior to the climb we're seeing in the premarket.

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