Supermajors Report Earnings and Dell Moves Towards a Buyout: Morning Buzzers

U.S. stock futures remain positive on Friday morning following positive earnings and the Employment Situation report.

Futures at 8:50 a.m.: DJIA: +0.70%, S&P 500: +0.62%, NASDAQ: +0.67%.

Here’s what’s buzzing on Friday morning:jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total non-farm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January, bumping the U-3 unemployment rate up a fraction to 7.9 percent. However, upward revisions to November and December figures helped move the average rate of employment growth for 2012 up to 181,000 per month.

Merck (NYSE:MRK) was off about 2.4 percent in pre-market trading following its fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 financial results. Fourth-quarter revenue fell 4.5 percent to $11.7 billion, beating estimates by $270 million. Fourth-quarter earnings fell 6.1 percent to $0.46 per share, beating estimates by a penny. Full-year sales dropped 2 percent to $47.3 billion, while earnings climbed 6.9 percent to $2.16 per share. However, full-year 2013 EPS guidance in a range between $3.60 and $3.70 is a little bearish for some investors.

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Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) reported that fourth-quarter earnings grew 12 percent to $2.20, beating expectations by 20 cents. Oil-equivalent production decreased 5 percent year over year, while capital expenditures grew 24 percent to $12.4 billion. Full-year highlights include a 15 percent increase in earnings per share to $9.70 on the back of record capital expenditures of $39.8 billion as the company pursues exploration and production opportunities. Shares were up about 0.7 percent in the pre-market.

oil-on-waterChevron (NYSE:CVX) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $3.70 per diluted share, a 43.4 percent increase year over year. Full-year earnings were off 3 percent to $13.44 per diluted share. Earnings from downstream operations in the fourth quarter moved from a loss in 2011 to gains of nearly $1 billion in 2012.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) climbed as much as 5.3 percent in pre-market trading as reports circulated that an agreement to sell itself to a group of private-equity firms led by CEO Michael Dell could be announced as soon as Monday. Dell is the third-largest maker of personal computers in the world, and the sale of the company, currently with a market cap of $23 billion, would mark the largest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis.

Russell Wasendorf Sr., founder of Peregrine Financial Group, was sentenced to 50 years in jail for defrauding thousands of customers and siphoning millions of dollars from their investments over two decades. Reuters reports that Wasendorf was sentenced on Thursday after a trial where his charitable acts were pitted against his financial misconduct. Wasendorf is thought to have stolen over $215 million, and while he had a reputation for being a local hero in Iowa, he also used the stolen money fund a lifestyle of luxury.

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