Among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trading in Thursday's session are Google Inc., Merck & Co. and eBay Inc.

Altria Group Inc. (MO) is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $1.05 a share, according to analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

American Express Co. (AXP) is expected to post earnings of 80 cents a share for the first quarter.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $1.15 a share.

Gannett Inc. (GCI) is expected to post earnings of 89 cents a share for the first quarter.

Google (GOOG) is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $3.30 a share.

Merck (MRK) is expected to post earnings of 73 cents a share for the first quarter.

Merrill Lynch Co. (MER) is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $1.97 a share.

New York Times Co. (NYT) is expected to post earnings of 18 cents a share for the first quarter.

Nokia Corp. (NOK) is expected to report first-quarter earnings of 32 cents a share.

Wyeth (WYE) is expected to post earnings of 87 cents a share for the first quarter.

After Wednesday's closing bell, eBay (EBAY) said its first-quarter profit surged 52 percent, helped by higher average selling price of goods sold on its auction site and sharp growth in its online payment business.

Also, Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) reported that its first-quarter net earnings rose 55 percent, driven by strong sales in its HIV franchise.

And, Kraft Foods Inc.'s (KFT) first-quarter earnings plunged 30 percent as the nation's largest food company invested more in marketing and administrative expenses in the quarter in which it spun off as an independent company from Altria Group Inc.

In addition, E-Trade Financial Corp. (ETFC) reported a 19 percent increase in first-quarter net income, but also lowered its annual forecast because volatile stock markets reduced customer trading.

Watch list

Allstate Corp. (ALL) reported a 5 percent increase in first-quarter net income late Wednesday, while operating results from the auto and homeowners insurer topped analyst estimates. Net income came in at $1.49 billion, or $2.39 a share compared with $1.42 billion, or $2.19 a share, a year ago, Allstate said.

AMB Property Corp.'s (AMB) first-quarter net income fell 7.1 percent to $21.7 million, or 23 cents a share, from $23.4 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier on lower gains on the disposition of operating properties. The San Francisco operator and owner of industrial real estate said funds from operations rose 17 percent to $56.9 million, or 57 cents a share, from $48.7 million, or 52 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue fell 4.8 percent to $168 million from $176.4 million a year earlier, the company said.

AptarGroup Inc. (ATR) reported first-quarter net earnings of $29.6 million, or 82 cents a share, up 49 percent from $19.8 million, or 55 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The Crystal Lake, Ill.-based supplier of dispensing systems said revenue in the three months ended March 31 rose 20 percent to $449.8 million from $375.5 million a year ago. Aptar also said President and Chief Executive Carl Siebel plans to retire effective Dec. 31, and declared a 2-for-1 stock split to shareholders of record as of May 2.

Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s (ARNA) first-quarter loss widened, due in part to costs related to the Phase III lorcaserin Bloom trial. The first quarter of 2006 also included a $5 million milestone payment under its collaboration with Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc. The San Diego biotechnology company had a first-quarter loss of $31.4 million, or 53 cents a share, compared with a loss of $12.7 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier. Arena said revenue for the quarter fell 60 percent to $4.91 million from $12.1 million a year earlier.

Avici Systems Inc. (AVCI) reported first-quarter net earnings of $6 million, or 42 cents a share. During the same period a year ago, the company posted a net loss of $5.32 million, or 41 cents a share. Excluding restructuring charges, among other items, earnings were $6.6 million, or 46 cents a share compared with $2 million, or 15 cents a share, last year. Revenue at the North Billerica, Mass.-based provider of routing solutions for the Internet fell to $20.5 million from $20.9 million. Separately, Avici declared a special cash dividend of $2 a share, or about $28 million, payable on June 22 to shareholders of record as of June 11.

City National Corp. (CYN) reported first-quarter net earnings of $56.5 million, or $1.15 a share, down 1.2 percent from $57.2 million, or $1.12 a share, in the year-ago period. The Beverly Hills, Calif.-based bank holding company said net interest income in the three months ended March 31 fell to $147.3 million from $152.4 million.

Compuware Corp. (CPWR) puts its fiscal fourth-quarter net income at 17 cents a share, up from 15 cents a share a year earlier. The Detroit-based provider of software and services expects revenue for the quarter ended March 31 to increase slightly to $313 million from $309.5 million a year ago.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CBST) swung to a first-quarter profit of $5.6 million, or 10 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $5.9 million, or 11 cents a share. Excluding items, earnings were 14 cents a share. The Lexington, Mass., biopharmaceutical company's revenue rose 48 percent to $59.5 million from $40.1 million.

Marcus Brauchli was named managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, succeeding Paul Steiger, who is retiring this year.

First Horizon National Corp. (FHN) reported first-quarter net earnings of $70.5 million, or 55 cents a share, down 67 percent from $215 million, or $1.67 a share, in the year-ago period. The Memphis, Tenn.-based bank holding company said net interest income in the three months ended March 21 fell 3.4 percent to $237.4 million from $245.7 million in the comparable period last year.

Freddie Mac (FRE) will purchase $20 billion in subprime home mortgage products aimed at providing lenders with more options to offer subprime borrowers. The McLean, Va., mortgage finance giant said the products are currently under development and slated for launch by mid-summer.

IMS Health Inc.'s (RX) first-quarter net income fell 28 percent to $85.6 million, or 43 cents a share, from $118.1 million, or 56 cents a share, a year earlier, when the company recorded a $23.8 million tax benefit. The Fairfield, Conn., healthcare-information company's revenue rose 14 percent to $510.3 million from $446.2 million in the year-ago period.

Intersil Corp.'s (ISIL) first-quarter net income fell 2 percent to $33.1 million, or 24 cents a share, from a year-earlier profit of $32.4 million, or 22 cents a share. The Milpitas, Calif., semiconductor company's revenue declined about 6 percent to $167.7 million from $178.9 million a year earlier.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) said it has agreed to acquire Xign Corp., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider of business-to-business on-demand financial settlement solutions. Financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P. (KMP) declared late Wednesday a first-quarter cash dividend of 83 cents a share, payable May 15 to shareholders of record on May 30. The payout is up 2.5 percent from 81 cents a year ago. Net income for the quarter fell to $214.9 million from $246.7 million in the first three months of 2006, hurt by one-time items that included refinancing and insurance losses.

Knight Transportation (KNX) posted a first-quarter profit of $16.6 million, or 19 cents a chare, up from $15.8 million, or 18 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 11.7 percent to $166.5 million from $149.1 million.

Labor Ready Inc.'s (LRW) first-quarter net income fell 9.8 percent to $10.3 million from $11.5 million a year earlier. On a per-share basis, earnings remained flat at 21 cents. The Tacoma, Wash., provider of temporary employees said revenue from services fell to $290.2 million from $297.1 million a year ago.

LaSalle Hotel Properties (LHO) reported first-quarter net earnings of $27 million, down from $38.9 million during the same period a year ago. Earnings applicable to common shareholders were $15.7 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with $33.3 million, or 87 cents a share, last year. The Bethesda, Md.-based real estate investment trust posted total revenue of $131.9 million vs. $108.7 million.

Northwest Airlines Corp. (NWACQ) said it has reached agreement with a committee of retirees to continue retiree healthcare benefits. Under the terms of an agreement that was filed with a bankruptcy court, retirees under the age of 65, who retired prior to Aug. 1, 2006, will be offered medical, prescription drug and dental coverage as part of the healthcare plan offered to Northwest's active employees. The retirees will be required to contribute 50 percent of the cost of their medical coverage and 100 percent of the premiums for dental coverage.

Novellus Systems Inc. (NVLS) reported a fiscal first-quarter profit of $53.8 million, or 42 cents a share on revenue of $396.9 million. During the same period a year ago, the chip-equipment maker earned $24.7 million, or 19 cents a share on $366 million in revenue.

Power-One Inc. (PWER) expects to report first-quarter revenue below its guidance of $124 million, and a net loss of about 14 cents a share. The Camarillo, Calif., company said its North American business didn't achieve expected results due to lower sales to distributors and certain key customers who have leaner inventory.

School Specialty Inc. (SCHS) announced a restructuring plan and cut its 2007 outlook. The restructuring includes plans to sell its video production company, School Specialty Media, and designate it a discontinued segment As a result, the Greenville, Wis.-company said it will record a pretax asset impairment charge of $22 million to $27 million, or 60 cents to 75 cents a share, during the fourth quarter. School Specialty cut its fiscal 2007 earnings outlook to a range of 80 cents to $1 a share from its previous range of $1.85 to $1.90 a share.

Sovereign Bancorp's (SOV) first-quarter net income fell to $48.1 million, or 9 cents a share, from $141 million, or 36 cents a share, a year earlier. Results from the most recent quarter include charges of $52.3 million, or 11 cents a share, for expense reduction and balance sheet restructuring, as well as $76.4 million, or 15 cents a share, related to the correspondent home-equity held-for-sale portfolio.

Spansion Inc. (SPSN) , the world's No. 1 maker of NOR flash memory chips used in consumer electronics, reported a wider first-quarter loss compared with a year ago and announced cost-cutting measures amid bleak market conditions.

Stryker Corp. (SYK) said that first-quarter net income rose to $243.5 million, or 59 cents a share, up 65 percent from the $147.5 million, or 36 cents a share reported a year ago. Sales for the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based medical products maker were $1.49 billion compared with last year's $1.32 billion. The company said it expects earnings of $2.42 a share for all of fiscal 2007, in line with Thomson estimates.

Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) said it's doubling its quarterly dividend, taking it to 8 cents a share from 4 cents a share.

Torchmark Corp.'s (TMK) first-quarter earnings rose 12 percent to $135.2 million, or $1.37 a share, from $120.3 million, or $1.16 a share, a year earlier, as insurance underwriting and investment income increased. Net operating income climbed 6 percent to $131.1 million, or $1.32 a share, from $123.8 million, or $1.20 a share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Valmont Industries Inc. (VMI) reported first-quarter net earnings of $18.7 million, or 72 cents a share, up 43 percent from $13.1 million, or 52 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The Omaha, Neb.-based maker of engineered support structures said revenue in the 13 weeks ended March 31 rose 12 percent to $340.7 million from $303.6 million in the same period last year.

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