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Sony Climbs on Shareholder Showdown; Hormel Hurting from Cost Hikes

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks again darted higher as the FOMC began its long awaited two-day meeting. Ben Bernanke and company are discussing policy including the future of the Fed's $85 billion-a-month bond buying program to stimulate the economy. Bernanke will hold a press briefing tomorrow afternoon once the meeting concludes. Meanwhile, two economic reports were released this morning. First is the Consumer Price Index for May which rose 0.1% when expectations were for 0.2%. Separately, the Commerce Department said housing starts rose by 914,000, lower than the forecast for 955,000.

Shares of Sony (SNE) rose another 3% today as hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb put more pressure on the Japanese powerhouse of yesteryear. Loeb sent Sony a new letter calling for a spin-off its electronics company to isolate it from the more profitable entertainment unit. Loeb's firm "Third Point" has just upped its stake in Sony by five million shares to almost 7% of the company. Sony's board says it will review Loeb's proposal. The stock is up more than 80% year-to-date.

Hormel (HRL) fell nearly 4% after lowering its sales outlook for the year. The company is citing several factors including weakness in its pork business and softer sales of its refrigerated foods. At the same time, the company is facing higher meat costs in part because of last year's drought. Hormel bought the Skippy peanut butter brand earlier this year in an attempt at diversification. The company says it will provide more details on its outlook at a shareholder meeting later this month.

Genmark Diagnostics (GNMK) plunged 12% today, on top of yesterday when it also shed 8%. Genmark has lowered its yearly sales outlook by $5 million down to $30 million. The company is citing a decrease in business from its largest customer, as well as challenges with medical reimbursements for its products. The stock hit an all-time high of $16 a share last month.

Shares of Clearwire (CLWR) fell over 1% as traders digested the latest developments in takeover efforts. Sprint (S) has sued Dish (DISH) over its bid for Clearwire, claiming the proposal violates the rights of shareholders. Sprint is in fact Clearwire's biggest shareholder and is in fact trying to stage its own takeover. Dish moved fractionally higher today. Sprint moved slightly lower.