Markets & Finance

SBC Communications Climbs


According to The Wall Street Journal, the FCC is preparing to end a requirement that local phone companies rent their networks to long-distance rivals at cheap rates, which is boosting SBC Communications (SBC). The move would be a huge win for regional bells, but would deal a blow to local phone competition.

Hotels.com (ROOM) cut the fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA forecast to $33 million to $34 million, and cut the revenue forecast to $270 million to $271 million, citing an unexpected falloff in average daily rates for bookings, and a higher level of advertising expense. Hotels.com will buy back up to $100 million in Class A stock.

CS First Boston upgraded FedEx (FDX) to outperform from neutral.

Charles River (CRL) sees 35 cents to 36 cents fourth quarter earnings per share, and increased its ownership interest in Charles River Japan, a joint venture with Ajinomoto Co. Inc., for $10.4 million.

McData (MCDTA) raised the fourth quarter revenue guidance to the $104 million to $106 million range, and now expects improved earnings per share (pro forma) in the six cents to eight cents range, excluding non-cash deferred compensation and amortization charges.

Salomon says Philip Morris (MO) may announce changes to its current pricing and promotional structure to its salesforce.

Keefe Bruyette reportedly upgraded Capital One (COF) to market perform from underperform.

AT&T (T) will take a $240 million pre-tax restructuring charge in the fourth quarter of 2002 from planned employee separations, as the company prepares to cut its workforce by 3,500. Also, AT&T will incur an asset-impairment charge of $200 million, or 15 cents a share, related to the value of its DSL network assets.

Pre-Paid Legal (PPD) says fourth quarter earnings per share will be about 35%-40% higher than a year ago, excluding expense accruals. Earlier, the developer and marketer of legal services announced the resignation of its president. Also, the company said the number of new sales associates enrolled decreased by 24%, while the number of new memberships produced decreased by 6% during the fourth quarter.

Salomon downgraded Macerich (MAC) to in-line from outperform.

USA Interactive (USAI) says despite Hotel.com's preannouncement, it expects financial performance for 2002 will be generally in line with key bottom-line metrics announced in the third quarter release. USA Interactive purchased Hotels.com in 2002.

Salomon downgraded Biogen (BGEN) to underperform from in-line, and downgraded the biotech sector to marketweight from overweight.

Millennium Pharmaceuticals (MLNM) sees $450 million to $475 million 2003 revenues; and expects 2003 worldwide Integrilin sales to rise 20% to about $365 million.

Benchmark Electronics (BHE) expects $460 million to $470 million fourth quarter revenue vs. the previous $425 million to $440 million guidance. Based on current indications, Benchmark expects first quarter 2003 revenue to be slightly below fourth quarter 2002 results.

Deutsche Bank upgraded the semiconductor equipment sector and upgraded Applied Material (AMAT) to buy from hold.

Human Genome (HGSI) reported upbeat results from a Phase 1 trial of Albuferon-alpha, its treatment for adults with chronic hepatitis C. Human Genome expects fourth quarter results to be in line with estimates.

CryoLife (CRY) says an FDA interpretation clarifies that non-valved cardiac and vascular tissues processed since Sept. 5 may be shipped without extraordinary restrictions.

Computer Science (CSC) signed a five-year, $57.9 million IT outsourcing contract with Belron, the world's largest automotive glass repair and replacement company.

Virage Logic (VIRL) sees earnings per share (pro forma) of about one cent for the first quarter on $11.5 million to $11.7 million in revenues, citing deferred purchasing of 0.13-micron products. Virage believes the industry's adoption of 90-nanometer process technology has slowed. Needham lowered its target.

According to Barron's, Raymond James' Rich Scocozza says among those firms that once dazzled investors with promises of linking isolated repositories of data, WebMethods (WEBM) stands one of the best chances of thriving when technology spending revives.

Veridian (VNX) was awarded a $123 million (maximum order amount) multiple-award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to provide engineering and program management services to the U.S. Navy.


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