Markets & Finance

Still Hold H&R Block


H&R Block HRB

: Maintains 3

STARS (hold)

Analyst: J. Agnese

The company reported that revenue Jan. 1 to April 16 from tax preparation and related services increased 10% from a year ago. The average fee for tax preparation and related services rose 10.1% to $111.51 from $101.29, total clients rose 3.0%, and electronic filings increased 9.2%. The numbers were slightly ahead of estimates. The Financial Advisors unit cut 5% of jobs during the April quarter. Block sees a significant year-over-year decline in its unit's earnings. The shares are worth holding at 18 times S&P's fiscal 2001 (Apr.) estimate of $2.92, compared with the multiple of 23 for the S&P 500.

Symbol Technologies SBL

: Maintains 4 STARS (accumulate)

Analyst: James Corridore, Jonathan Rudy

The company posted $0.12 vs. $0.14 (post-split) Q1 EPS, $0.02 above estimates. Revenues increased 41%. In a challenging economic environment, Symbol expects lower sequential quarterly growth for 2001 than previously planned. However, Symbol still anticipates robust revenue and EPS growth year over year. At 31 times S&P's 2001 EPS estimate of $0.86, stock valuation does not reflect Symbol's growing momentum, visionary management and presence in Barcode, RF-ID and Voice-over-IP technologies.

Royal Dutch Petroleum RD

and Shell Transport & Trading SC

: Maintains 3 STARS (hold)

Analyst: Tina Vital

Royal Dutch/Shell Group posted Q1 (adjusted) earnings of $3.89 billion vs. $3.34 billion, $0.29-$0.49 billion above the Street. Exploration & production (E&P) income rose 21%; gas & power was up 184%; oil products were up 62%; chemicals fell 83%. Gas production climbed 8.5% from Q4; oil was down 1.3%; E&P capital expenditure was up 48%. Q1 share buybacks totaled $1.4 billion. With projected sequential EPS flat at best, shares are trading at 16 times S&P's 2001 EPS estimate -- in line with peers and fairly valued.

Wisconsin Central WCLX

: Reiterates 3 STARS (HOLD)

Analyst: Richard Stice

The railroad company posted $0.25 vs. $0.25 Q1 EPS -- $0.03 below S&P's forecast. Revenues were up slightly, as strength in coal and lumber transportation demand offset weakness in other commodities. Higher fuel prices reduced Q1 EPS by $0.04. Wisconsin Central shareholders in April approved a $17.15 per-share cash takeover offer by Canadian National Railway. The transaction is expected to close this fall and is subject to regulatory approval. S&P is lowering its 2001 EPS estimate by $0.05, to $1.20. With government backing likely, S&P expects shares to gravitate towards a buyout price.

J D Edwards JDEC

: Maintains 3 STARS (HOLD)

Analyst: Jonathan Rudy

The financial services company says it will beat April quarter Street estimates of a $0.05 loss per share. He expects revenues of $210-$215 million, versus the Street's $212 million. The company also announced its is cutting 8% of its workforce. S&P is maintaining its fiscal 2001 (Oct.) operating EPS estimate at $0.10. Despite positive news, J D Edwards still is in a restructuring process. At 97 times S&P's fiscal 2001 estimate, S&P would not add to positions at this time


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