Today in the Fortune 500: Intel and IBM see first-quarter sales jump, profits up at Wells Fargo and the FDA wants Pfizer, J&J to educate doctors about prescribing painkillers

April 20, 2011, 7:09 PM UTC
Image by La Tête Krançien via Flickr

The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

BIG TECH IS BACK Intel (INTC) and IBM (IBM) saw increased sales during the first quarter of 2011, performing much better than Wall Street expected. Both companies attribute the sales jump to businesses spending more, specifically on servers and machines used for data centers. [Wall Street Journal]

BACK ON THE WAGON First quarter profits at Wells Fargo rose 48% to $3.76 billion, even though the bank saw a decline in revenue. Well’s Fargo’s (WFC) bottom line has improved in part because the bank has set aside less money for potential loan loses. Also, its 2008 acquisition of Wachovia Corp. is starting to pay off. [Wall Street Journal]

MORE TRAINING NECESSARY for doctors that prescribe painkillers, says the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA wants Congress to mandate that pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer (PFE) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) prepare medical professionals to recognize signs of prescription drug abuse in patients. [Bloomberg]

A WEAK FIRST EFFORT Exxon (XOM) CEO Rex Tillerson said he knew that some of the first solutions BP (BP) tried to cap the Macondo well during the oil spill last year were never going to work. “I think there was some time lost pursuing some alternatives that most of us felt that in the end were not going to be successful,” he said, “and with the loss of time the challenges just got greater.” [Financial Times]

DATA OVERLOAD The Dutch Data Protection Authority could fine Google up to $1.4 million for photographs that the company took in Netherlands for its Street View application. The Dutch DPA says Google (GOOG) must take certain steps to protect users’ personal data within three months or the penalty will increase. [Wall Street Journal]

HOW ABOUT A HOG? Net income at Harley-Davidson (HOG) skyrocketed in the first quarter of 2011, up to $110.3 million from $33.3 million in 2010. But Harley is losing market share in the U.S. because of price competition from other companies discounting older models and more available parts on the market from motorcycles sold during the recession. [Wall Street Journal]