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Nov. 4, 2011, 7:08 a.m. EDT

Stocks to watch Friday: CBS, AIG, LinkedIn

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By MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Among the stocks that could see active trading in Friday’s session are Starbucks Corp., CBS Corp. and American International Group Inc. and LinkedIn Corp.

It’s a shorter roster of companies on deck to report financial results to close out the week. Notables include Church & Dwight Co. /zigman2/quotes/203816376/composite CHD -1.89% , Washington Post Co. , Olympic Steel Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203195538/composite ZEUS +0.25% , Moog Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210100990/composite MOG.A +1.78% , Warner Chilcott PLC , Treehouse Foods Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204190057/composite THS -0.61% , AES Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209256253/composite AES +1.95% , NextEra Energy Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200558509/composite NEE -0.93% , Plains Exploration & Production Co. , Windstream Corp. , United States Cellular Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203420412/composite USM -2.11%  and Telephone & Data Systems Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200740609/composite TDS -0.20% , among others.

The board of CBS   approved increasing the New York-based media giant’s ongoing stock-buyback program to the tune of $1.5 billion. As of the end of the third quarter, the company said, $850 million in Class B common stock had been repurchased under a previously authorized $1.5 billion program. CBS said it expects to use up the authorization remaining from this previous program and the $1.5 billion increase by the end of 2013. Also late Thursday, CBS reported a third-quarter profit of $338 million, or 50 cents a share, on sales of $3.37 billion, up from $245 million, or 35 cents a share, earned on revenue of $3.3 billion in the same period last year. Analysts polled by FactSet Research had, on average, been looking for earnings of 46 cents a share and revenue of $3.44 billion.

After having paid back nearly $1 billion earlier this week on the federal assistance extended following its September 2008 collapse, AIG /zigman2/quotes/203700638/composite AIG -2.47%  said its board authorized the repurchase of up to $1 billion in common stock. Buybacks will take place from time to time in the open market, through derivative or automatic purchase contracts or otherwise, the New York-based company said. Read more on AIG’s third-quarter results.

LinkedIn  said it’s filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell $100 million in stock via a secondary offering; the company went public last May. Also late Thursday, the online professional networking site reported a third-quarter loss of $1.6 million, or 2 cents a share, on revenue of $139.5 million. Analysts, according to a consensus survey compiled by Thomson Reuters, had expected the company to post a loss of 4 cents a share, on revenue of $128 million. LinkedIn also projected an above-consensus revenue range of $154 million to $158 million for the fourth quarter.

Health Care REIT Inc.  announced plans to make an offering of 10 million common shares. Underwriters would have a 30-day option to purchase up to 1.5 million additional shares if demand warrants. The Toledo, Ohio-based company would use net proceeds for general corporate purposes, including investing in health-care and seniors housing properties as well as paying down borrowings under its unsecured line of credit and other outstanding debt.

The board of Limited Brands Inc.  authorized a new $250 million share-repurchase program, with the Columbus, Ohio-based apparel retailer having completed its previous $500 million authorization. So far this year, Limited Brands said it’s bought back $1.1 billion in stock.

The board of W. R. Berkley Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204853291/composite WRB -1.48%  approved increasing the size of the company’s stock-buyback authorization to 10 million common shares. The Greenwich, Conn.-company said the shares would represent about 7% of W. R. Berkley’s outstanding shares as of Sept. 30. Stock may be bought back from time via open-market or privately negotiated transactions.

Fluor Corp.’s board approved a new stock-repurchase program covering up to 12 million shares, the equivalent of about 7.1% of the company’s outstanding stock as of Oct. 28. Shares, Fluor /zigman2/quotes/203795934/composite FLR +0.21%  said, will be repurchased from time to time in the open market through privately negotiated transactions at the company’s discretion.

ManpowerGroup’s board approved up to 3 million common shares in additional stock repurchases, according to the Milwaukee-based company /zigman2/quotes/200637338/composite MAN +0.27% . Stock repurchases may be made from time to time in open-market or privately negotiated transactions. The additional authorization comes on top of about 2.3 million shares available to be repurchased under a buyback program that ManpowerGroup’s board authorized last December.

The board of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.  declared an annual cash dividend of 50 cents a share, payable Dec. 30 to stockholders of record as of Dec. 15. The payout represents a 67% increase over Starwood’s 2010 dividend, the White Plains, N.Y.-based company said.

Imperial Sugar Co.  said its board suspended payment of the quarterly dividend on common stock until further notice, citing “continued pressure on its gross margins and liquidity primarily caused by sustained high raw sugar prices and competitive refined sugar pricing.” Also late Thursday, the Sugar Land, Tex.-based said it recently sold its 50% interest in a Mexican joint venture for $5.5 million in cash. Imperial Sugar further said that borrowings under its revolving credit agreement totaled $81.5 million as of Sept. 30, the end of its fiscal year, putting its undrawn capacity available for borrowing at $44 million.

A wholly owned unit of Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205669477/composite SBH -3.28%  will undertake a much bigger sale of debt than previously anticipated, the company said. Sally Holdings LLC entered into a purchase agreement to sell $750 million of 6.875% senior notes due 2019 to institutional buyers via a private placement. The offering previously had been pegged at $300 million. The Denton, Tex.-based company, which expects to close the offering Nov. 8, estimated net proceeds at $737 million. The funds will be earmarked to redeem $705 million of high-yield debt.

First Solar Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209356097/composite FSLR -3.52%  will postpone commissioning a solar-panel factory in Vietnam, saying the move’s necessary “until global supply and demand dynamics support the additional capacity.” Instead, the company will continue developing its Mesa, Ariz., plant to handle supplying photovoltaic modules for projects in North America. Separately, First Solar and NRG Energy Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208308731/composite NRG -2.00%  struck a deal for First Solar to provide engineering, procurement and construction on a 66-megawatt solar project in Lancaster, Calif. It’s the second such agreement the companies have reached. Construction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2012, with the project using Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar’s advanced thin-film modules.

Thursday earnings recap

Starbucks /zigman2/quotes/207508890/composite SBUX -2.07%  reported earnings of $358.5 million, or 47 cents a share, for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 2, up from $278.9 million, or 37 cents a share, earned in the final three months of fiscal 2010. Quarterly revenue rose 7% to $3 billion, as comparable-store sales increased 9%, the Seattle-based company said. For fiscal 2012, Starbucks affirmed its forecast calling for profit growth in a range of 15% to 20%. Also, the board declared a quarterly dividend of 17 cents a share, payable Dec. 2 to stockholders of record of Nov. 17. That’s up 31% from the last dividend payout of 13 cents and marks the third such increase for Starbucks in about 18 months.

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