Markets & Finance

With Walls Closing In, USG Files for Chapter 11


USG Corp. (USG) filed for Chapter 11. S&P upgraded to hold from sell.

Walgreen Co. (WAG) posted lower-than-expected $0.21 EPS vs. $0.19 Q3 EPS on 11.3% higher same-store sales and 17% higher total sales. S&P downgraded to hold.

Homestake Mining (HM) agreed to be acquired by Barrick Gold (ABX). Terms: 0.53 Barrick share per Homestake share, for a value of $8.71 per Homestake share.

Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) sees a $0.06-$0.09 Q1 loss (adjusted for non-recurring items) on $205M revenues, citing the impact of the economic downturn.

Inhale Therapeutic Systems (INHL) released the Phase III study data from inhaled insulin, Exubera, which uses the company's inhaleable technologies. Prudential notes the concern over increased insulin antibodies.

Morgan Stanley reportedly upgraded Globespan (GSPN) to strong buy from outperform.

CIBC World downgraded Business Objects (BOBJ) to hold from strong buy, citing weakness in the business intelligence sector.

Lehman upgraded Arch Coal (ACI ) to strong buy from buy.

Triton Oil (OIL) announced a third significant oil discovery on Block G offshore Equatorial Guinea.

Merrill upgraded Photon Dynamics (PHTN) to near-term buy from accumulate.

CS First Boston cut estimates on DMC Stratex (STXN). Late last week DMC forecasted a lower-than-expected $0.04-$0.08 Q1 loss from operations on $75M-$80M revenues.

Lehman reiterates its strong buy rating on Sirius Satellite (RADI) after Agere Systems says seven consumer electronics manufacturers that are developing radios that include Agere's chipset also are capable of receiving broadcasts from Sirius.

Alltrista Corp. (ALC) says Marlin Partners II LP has withdrawn its offer to acquire Alltrista for $18 cash per share. Alltrista expects 2001 EBITDA to be 15%-20% below its earlier guidance of about $55M.

California Center Bank Hanmi Financial (HAFC) terminated its agreement to be acquired by Hanmi.

CIBC World reiterates its strong buy rating on Computer Access (CATZ) following an informational roadshow with management.

Goldman upgraded Alaska Air (ALK) to market outperform from market perform.

Pioneer-Standard (PIOS) sees Q1 earnings at breakeven or slightly profitable vs. the $0.18 First Call consensus. The company cited a severe volume decline in electronic components. Tucker Anthony cut estimates.

Merrill downgraded MEMC Elecronic Materials (WFR) to near-term reduce from accumulate, and to long-term neutral from accumulate.

SG Cowen upgradedICOS (ICOS) to strong buy from buy.

Surebeam "A" (SURE) signed a $50M agreement with RESAL Saudi Corp. to build a network of SureBeam pasteurization facilities in Saudi Arabia.

IBM Corp. (IBM) says it has built the world's fastest silicon-based transistor.

IMC Global (IGL) says Q2 EPS will be only slightly better than breakeven due to unfavorable foreign exchange and a higher interest expense. IMC says second-half results will be hurt by weak phosphate demand,and a sharp decline in selling prices.

Dime Bancorp (DME) agreed to be acquired by Washington Mutual (WM) in a stock/cash deal valued at $5.2B, with total consideration fixed at $1.4B cash, and 92.3M Washington Mutual shares. Terms: 1.05 Washington Mutual share per Dime share. S&P maintains accumulate.

Merrill downgraded Biogen Corp. (BGEN) to near-term and long-term neutral from accumulate. Lehman reportedly downgraded to market perform from buy and cut the target. S&P maintains hold.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Compaq Computer (CPQ) plans restructuring to put its focus on software/services over hardware. S&P maintains hold.

Sierra Wireless (SWIR) cut the $0.03 Q2 EPS (pro forma) guidance to a $0.05-$0.09 loss on $18M-$20M revenue and sees breakeven Q3. Sierra will take one-time charges in Q2 of about $11M. CS First Boston downgraded to hold.

Goldman reportedly added Coca-Cola (KO) to its recommended list.

USB Piper expects Yahoo! (YHOO) to come in at the high end of Q2 revenue guidance, with EPS upside likely. While UBS Piper expects positive announcements in the near term, long-term growth remains unclear, and the firm maintains its neutral rating on the stock.

BYL Bancorp ( BOYL) agreed to be acquired by First Banks America for $18.50 cash per share, or total of about $52M.

Talx Corp. (TALX) plans to acquire Ti3 Inc., an application service provider primarily for the staffing industry, in a stock deal valued at $1.8M. Separately, Talx filed to offer 2.74M shares.

Datron Systems (DTSI) agreed to be acquired by Titan Corp. (TTN) for $16 per share in Titan stock.

Sunquest Info (SUNQ) agreed to be acquired by Misys PLC. Terms: $24 cash per Sunquest share.

Apollo Group (APOL) posted $0.29 vs. $0.19 Q3 EPS on 28% revenue

rise and sees $210M-$212M Q4 revenue and $764M-$766M for fiscal 2001, with an expected 20.0%-20.5% Q4 operating margin, as well as a 20.0%-20.5% operating margin for fiscal 2001. William Blair raised estimates.

Novo-Nordisk (NVO) says a study suggests its oral antidiabetic drug (OAD) Prandin stimulates insulin secretion by pancreas

through a different mechanism than nateglinide, tolbutamide, and other OADs used to treat type 2 diabetes.

ARM Holdings (ARMHY) is in collaboration with and made a licensing deal with Sun Microsystems to jointly develop new Java technologies optimized for the wireless device market.

Paychex Inc. (PAYX) posted $0.18 vs. $0.14 Q4 EPS on 16% revenue

rise.

Swift Transport (SWFT) says it has priced a public offering of 1.2M shares at $16.00 per share before underwriting discounts.

Ariad Pharmaceutical (ARIA) filed a universal shelf registration statement with SEC for issuance of up to 4.5M shares.


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