Microsoft, Wal-Mart and UPS Satisfy Shareholders with 52-Week Highs Feb 1st

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT): The cuts are part of a marketing reorganization, Microsoft told Bloomberg, following reports that the company is going to announce significant layoffs. The shares closed at $29.89, up $0.36 or 1.22% on the day. They have traded in a 52-week range of $23.65 to $29.95.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT): According to people familiar with the matter, Bain Capital and BC Partners have placed “aggressive” bids for Iceland Foods in an auction the vendors hope will value the business at about $2.4B, Reuters reports. Wal-Mart’s (NYSE:WMT) Asda unit is no longer looking to bid for Iceland, but is still interested in a number of its stores.  The shares closed at $62.18, up $0.82 or 1.34% on the day. They have traded in a 52-week range of $48.31 to $62.00.

United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS): The International Air Transport Association reported that full year 2011 passenger demand rose 5.9% compared to 2010, in line with long-term growth trends. In contrast, cargo markets contracted by 0.7% for the year; but recorded positive demand growth in December of 0.2%. Growth in demand lagged capacity increases at 6.3% (passenger) and 4.1% (cargo) putting downward pressure on load factors. The average passenger load factor for 2011 was 78.1%, down from 78.3% in 2010, while the freight load factor was just 45.9%, down from 48.1% in 2010. Improving business confidence and encouraging news from the US economy are heartening developments. But it is far too early to start predicting a soft landing for 2012. The euro zone crisis is far from over. Failure to achieve a durable solution will have dire consequences for economies around the world. And it would most certainly tip the airline industry into the red, the association said. The shares closed at $76.78, up $1.13 or 1.49% on the day. They have traded in a 52-week range of $60.74 to $77.00.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Derek Hoffman at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com