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Advanced Micro Jumps on an Analyst Upgrade

Bear Stearns raised its estimates on chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), on a more positive outlook for flash-memory chip orders. AMD also rose on a report by research firm Gartner that forecast a 20% rise in semiconductor sales in 2004.

UBS Warburg upgraded printer maker Lexmark (LXK) to buy from neutral, citing the potential for more a benign inkjet pricing environment into 2004, and continued upside to estimates.

Computer Sciences (CSC) posted 57 cents (including a 3 cents after-tax charge), vs. 54 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 32% revenue rise. The information-technology consulting firm sees 68 cents to 70 cents third-quarter earnings per share on $3.6 billion in revenue. S&P reiterates accumulate. CS First Boston and J.P. Morgan upgraded.

Web-conferencing technology firm Latitude Communications (LATD) agreed to be acquired by Cisco Systems (CSCO) in an $80 million deal. The terms are $3.95 cash per Latitude share.

Standard & Poor's Ratings cut its debt rating on Ford Motor (F) to "BBB-", or one notch above "junk." Although this is the lowest possible investment grade rating, the market was relieved that S&P hadn't issued a negative outlook on the automaker.

Lexicon Genetics (LEXG) says a study identifying a novel gene target for the control of high blood pressure, detailing creation of the largest gene-trap library, has been published in the online Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an academic journal.

IPayment (IPMT) posted 29 cents, vs. 12 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a sharp revenue rise. The provider of credit-card processing services says it's comfortable with its estimates of $1.06 to $1.12 2003 earnings per share and $255 million to $265 million in revenue.

HPSC (HDR), a financier of heathcare providers, agreed to be acquired by General Electric's (GE) GE Healthcare Financial Services for $14.50 per share.

Jewlery retailer Friedman's (FRM) says allowance for doubtful accounts on its balance sheet as of Sept. 27 will increase above previous expectations. Wedbush Morgan downgraded to sell from buy.

AG Edwards downgraded industrial-ceramics maker Ceradyne (CRDN) to sell from hold on valuation.

Goldman Sachs upgraded Brocade Communications (BRCD) to outperform from in-line.

Laser-systems maker Coherent (COHR) posted an 86 cents fourth-quarter loss, vs. an 8 cents loss from continuing operations as restructuring and impairment charges related to facilities and equipment offset a 2.4% net sales rise. S&P downgraded to hold from accumulate.

VaxGen (VXGN) says preliminary results from a Phase III clinical trial in Thailand to evaluate AIDSVAX B/E, an investigational vaccine for the prevention of HIV infection, did not meet its targets. VaxGen also is developing vaccines for smallpox and anthrax.

Columbia Laboratories (COB), a developer of women's healthcare and fertility products, posted a 11 cents third-quarter loss, vs. a 5 cents loss as higher costs and expenses offset a sharp sales rise. Due to a slower-than-expected adoption of products, Columbia sees a 14 cents to 17 cents fourth-quarter loss, and a 50 cents to 54 cents 2003 loss. The company also sees 2004 results ranging from a loss of 15 cents per share to 9 cents earnings per share.

Faro Technologies (FARO) and two co-founders entered an agreement with various institutional investors for a $40.4 million private placement of its common stock. Faro will sell 1.128 million shares, and the co-founders will sell 752,000 shares, for $21.50 per share.

Merck (MRK) halted a Phase III clinical development program for its substance P antagonist investigational product, MK-0869, as the compound failed to demonstrate efficacy for the treatment of depression.

Citigroup upgraded Nokia (NOK) to buy from hold, citing better volumes in the market and more modest declines in average selling prices for the handsets.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) raised its loss forecast for the fourth quarter to incorporate a non-cash charge related to its piliot pension plan. Delta also will record a non-cash charge that will reduce the equity related to its defined benefit pension plans. The airline plans to suspend payment of its dividend on its Series B ESOP convertible preferred stock.

PacifiCare Health (PHS) cut the $1.02 to $1.07 fourth-quarter earnings per share guidance to 59 cents to 64 cents, and cut the 2003 estimate to $6.00 to $6.05. The revision reflects costs associated with the redemption of senior notes and a stock offering.

Federated Department Stores (FD) posted 36 cents, vs. 38 cents (continuing operations) third-quarter earnings per share despite slightly higher same-store sales. The company notes earnings per share were better than expected, driven by an improving sales trend. Federated reaffirmed the $2.15 to $2.20 fourth-quarter earnings per share guidance.

Eastman Kodak (EK) is in deals with Cingular and Nokia that will provide mobile imaging services to help people store, share, organize, and print their digital images.

Too (TOO) posted 13 cents, vs. 31 cents third-quarter earnings per share on 17% lower same-store sales. The retailer sees 50 cents to 60 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, and sees same-store sales ranging from negative to the mid to high single digits.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) posted 51 cents, vs. 48 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a 6% net sales rise. A&F sees fourth-quarter earnings per share flat with fourth-quarter fiscal 2003.

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