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AIG, the insurer rescued by the U.S., posted a fourth-quarter loss on Feb. 26 on charges tied to paying down its bailout debt and boosting commercial insurance reserves. The net loss of $8.87 billion, or $65.51 a share, narrowed from $61.7 billion, or a reverse-split adjusted $458.99, a year earlier when AIG posted the biggest loss in U.S. corporate history. The operating loss, which excludes some investment results, was $53.23 a share, missing the $3.94 average loss estimate of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Seifert said in a posting on the S&P MarketScope service that AIG's fourth quarter operating loss per share of $52.53, vs. a $287.69 loss one year earlier, and full-year $46.40 loss, vs. a $395.28 loss, reflected numerous unusual items excluded from her operating EPS estimates of $2.00 for the fourth quarter and $3.51 for all of 2009.
"Our takeaway from these results is that AIG's core insurance units remain weak, and that a high degree of execution risk remains in AIG's turnaround strategy, the analyst wrote.
Seifert cut her price target on the shares by $2 to $30, under the assumption that AIG trades at a discount to its stated book value. Seifert said she believes AIG's tangible common equity, which was a deficit of $162.06 per share at Sept. 30, is still negative.
Palm, the maker of the Pre phone, said after the close of trading Feb. 25 that sales this year will be "well below" its forecast because customers aren't buying devices as quickly as expected. The company had initially projected sales of at least $1.6 billion for the year ending in May. Revenue in the fiscal third quarter will be $310 million at most, Palm said. Analysts projected $409.3 million, according to the average estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
In a Feb. 26 note, Long said that Palm's update third-quarter revenue guidance was well below his estimate of $379 million and even further below the Wall Street consensus view of $425 million. Long also noted that Palm indicated that fiscal 2010 revenues would fall below its previously forecasted range of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion.
Long said he believes the company expected Verizon Wireless to drive increased revenue in the second half of fiscal 2010. "[w]e believe sell-through has lagged because carrier promotion was limited, and Palm is shipping what is essentially a six-month old device [the Pre] with limited differentiation," the analyst said. Long added that he thinks Palm now has "sizeable" channel inventory issues at Sprint and Verizon, "which will make for an even tougher fourth-quarter as their lineup ages".
The analyst lowered his pro forma estimates for fiscal 2010 to a loss of $1.36 per share from a loss of $1.04; and for fiscal 2011 to a loss of $1.11 per share from a loss of 87 cents. He also lowered his price target on the shares to $5 from $9.
Wynn Resorts Ltd.: Oppenheimer analyst David Katz reiterated an outperform rating on shares of Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) on Feb. 26.
Wynn Resorts, the casino company founded by Steve Wynn, reported fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 25 that missed analysts' estimates after Las Vegas room rates tumbled. Excluding some items, profit of 8 cents a share fell short of the 14-cent average of 12 analystsâ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The company reported a net loss of $5.22 million, or 4 cents, compared with loss of $159.6 million, or $1.49 a share, a year earlier, which included additional tax costs.
Wynn Resorts' quarterly results were in line with his expectations for weakness in Las Vegas and strength in Macau, Katz said in a Feb. 26. "We maintain our thesis that the Las Vegas Strip will remain pressured over the next 12-24 months, given the inflow of supply from the opening of CityCenter and economic weakness," he wrote.
Despite the unstable environment on the Las Vegas Strip, Katz said he believes that Wynn's exposure to the Macau market provides strong earnings in the present and future growth opportunities. He also said the company's recently completed Hong Kong IPO positions it as "the best capitalized casino company in the industry".
The analyst increased his price target to $74 from $73.
Fluor Corp.: R.W. Baird analyst Andrea Wirth lowered a rating on shares of Fluor Corp. (FLR) to neutral from outperform on Feb. 26.
On Feb. 25, Fluor, the largest publicly traded U.S. construction company, lowered its 2010 earnings forecast. Earnings per share this year will be $2.80 to $3.20, lower than an earlier forecast of $3.20 to $3.60, the company said in its fourth-quarter earnings report. Analysts projected $3.42, the average of 18 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
Wirth said in a Feb. 26 note that the company's fourth-quarter earnings per share of 82 cents compared with her estimate of 92 cents and the 88 cents consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts, noting lower profitability vs. her expectations. Wirth noted that the company's backlog declined 4.5% sequentially, below management's expectations for "meaningful reacceleration". Wirth said Fluor cut 2010 EPS guidance by 12% at the midpoint to $2.80 to $3.20, vs the $3.46 Wall Street consensus view.
Wirth said Fluor's margins are also expected to be negatively impacted as the company continues to thrive in the lower-margin mining sector, but will continue to see declining revenue in the relatively higher-margin oil and gas sector.
The analyst cut her price target on the shares to $47 from $59.