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Stocks to watch: AAPL, FB, CAT, DNKN, AMZN, GM

Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) delivered some welcome earnings surprises after the close Wednesday. Apple shares were surging in the pre-market after the company came in well ahead of Wall Street expectations on strong iPhone sales. iPad sales were weaker. Apple also announced another $30 billion share buyback and a huge 7-for-1 stock split that has some speculating the company could be positioning itself as a potential Dow component.

Meanwhile, Facebook was also sharply higher in pre-market trading after the company reported better-than-expected results on strong ad revenue. Facebook said profits nearly tripled on a 72% increase in revenue.

Caterpillar (CAT) easily beat earnings estimates, coming in $0.37-a-share better than expected. Revenue rose slightly and just beat estimates. Caterpillar has been cutting costs and announcing plant closings in response to slowing sales. The company's profits fell 33% last year and the CEO took a pay cut for failing to meet targets.

Dunkin Brands (DNKN) reported disappointing first quarter results. The company missed on earnings and revenue estimates, citing the weather. The company said it had a "difficult first quarter" with U.S. comparable store sales growth significantly impacted by severe weather, but it does expect to hit full-year targets.

Amazon (AMZN) is expected to release earnings after the closing bell today. Wall Street will be looking for earnings of $0.23 a share on $19.43 billion in revenue. Investors will be looking at sales of Amazon’s Kindle tablet as well as data on the Prime Instant Video service. The company announced yesterday that it reached an agreement to carry older episodes of HBO programming on its Prime service. It's the first time the premium cable channel has reached an agreement for its content to be available on an online streaming service.

And General Motors (GM) beat Wall Street estimates. Revenue rose, helped by higher prices on new pickups. General Motors has been under multiple investigations over its handling of recalls due to faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths.

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