Markets & Finance

H-P Reports Better-Than-Expected Earnings


After the market close Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reported fiscal first-quarter earnings per share of 29 cents (on a non-GAAP basis), vs. 24 cents in the previous quarter, on revenue of $17.9 billion. The PC maker's EPS was above the consensus estimate of 27 cents, but revenue was a bit shy of analysts' forecast and down 1% from the previous quarter. H-P says its revenue shortfalls were largely confined to the U.S. market, as weak commercial spending continued.

El Paso (EP) shares rose after the company says execution on 2003 operational and financial plan initiatives continues to make progress. . The initiatives will provide the company access to capital markets and increase liquidity. S&P upgraded the stock to avoid from sell. Prudential recommends as a speculative buy.

Overstock.com (OSTK) shares skidded after CEO Patrick Byrne reportedly says that while the company is comfortable with the range of analysts' estimates for 2003, first-quarter forecasts may prove aggressive.

Seagate Technology (STX) shares were higher after CEO Steve Luczo reportedly said at Goldman investment conference on Monday that confident the company can meet or exceed third-quarter consensus estimates.

Amerian Eagle Outfitters (AEOS) shares fell after the apparel retailer posted fourth-quarter EPS of 54 cents, vs. 60 cents a year ago, on a 4.6% same-store sales drop and 5.9% overall sales rise. The company says February sales are trending below its plan. S&P reiterates avoid ranking on the stock.

Electronic Data Systems (EDS) shares fell after Alstom reportedly says technology talks with EDS have terminated. Deutsche Bank views this as another negative data point suggesting uncertainty in customer confidence, and it kept a sell.

Coach (COH) raised its earnings forecast for its fiscal third quarter (ending March 29). The luxury accessories maker sees earnings per share of 29 cents in the third quarter and 25 cents in the fourth quarter. Thomas Weisel raisesd its earnings estimates on the news.

Applebee's International (APPB) shares rose Tuesday after the restaurant chain posted a 3.4% rise in February comparable store sales.

Home Depot (HD) posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings per share of 30 cents, vs. 30 cents one year earlier, despite 6% lower same-store sales. The home-improvement retailer reaffirmed its guidance of 9% to 14% fiscal 2004 (ending January) EPS growth and flat to slightly positive same-store sales. In the future, Home Depot says it will provide guidance on an annual basis only.

Shares of Atlantic Coast (ACAI) were lower on reports that UAL Corp. is considering closing its Dulles, Va. operations to reduce costs. Atlantic Coast operates United Express, which has a large presence at Dulles.

Broadwing (BRW)

will sell assets of its broadband business, Broadwing Communications Services, including the Broadwing name, to privately held C III Communications LLC, for $129 million in cash. S&P maintains avoid.

Overture Services (OVER) agreed to acquire the Web search unit of Norway-based Fast Search & Transfer for $70 million in cash and a cash incentive payment of up to $30 million over three years.

Blue Rhino (RINO) posted second-quarter earnings per share of 5 cents, vs. a 6-cent loss one year earlier, on a 50% revenue rise. The company sees third-quarter EPS of 11 cents to 13 cents (excluding items) on $55 million to $60 million in revenue, and EPS for the full fiscal year of 96 cents to 98 cents on $260 million to $265 million in revenue.

Smithfield Foods (SFD) posted third-quarter earnings per share of 5 cents, vs. 48 cents one year earlier, on a 4.8% revenue decline. The company cites low hog prices. While Smithfield expects fourth quarter results to be well above those of the third, they will not be above those of a year ago. Smithfield sees a much better year in fiscal 2004.

Clear Channel (CCU) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of 30 cents, vs. breakeven results one year earlier (adjusted), on a 19% revenue rise. The company posted $579 million in fourth quarter EBITDA. It sees $370 million to $390 million in first quarter EBITDA.

Wedbush Morgan downgraded Nvidia (NVDA) to hold from buy.

Triad Hospitals (TRI) shares fell after the company reported fourth-quarter operating earnings per share of 47 cents, vs. 13 cents in the year-ago period, on an 11% revenue rise. The company reiterated its outlook for EPS of $2.08 to $2.20 in 2003 and $2.46 to $2.70 in 2004. Prudential reiterates hold.

Toll Brothers (TOL) posted first-quarter earnings per share of 61 cents (including a charge), vs. 60 cents one year earlier, on a 16% revenue rise. Toll sees over $2.6 billion in fiscal 2003 home building revenue.

H&R Block (HRB) posted third-quarter earnings per share of 30 cents, vs. 16 cents one year earlier (excluding an extraordinary gain), on a 31% revenue rise. The company expects to exceed previously announced fiscal 2003 EPS guidance.

Shares of Great Britain-based Prudential PLC (PUK) were lower as the company said it will not confirm its commitment to its current dividend policy.

Dendreon (DNDN) will acquire Corvas International (CVAS) in a $72.9 million deal. Terms: 0.45 Dendreon share for each Corvas share.

United Therapeutics (UTHR) posted a fourth-quarter loss per share of 12 cents, vs. a loss of 37 cents one year earlier, on a sharp revenue rise. It sees annual revenue of $36 million from its lead product Remodulin, up from its previous $30 million estimate.

Audiovox (VOXX) shares fell after it reschedules its fourth-quarter and year-end results announcement to March 14. The company says it is unable to file 10-K annual report within prescribed period because it is completing required disclosure.

Longview Fibre (LFB) posted first-quarter earnings per share of 3 cents, vs. a loss of 12 cents one year, earlier on 6% higher revenues.

Imation (IMN) formed a joint venture with Moser Baer India in high-capacity removable optical storage media. It will hold a 51% stake in the venture. Imation expects the deal to boost to revenue and earnings per share from the second half of 2003.

Omnicom Group (OMC) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.08, vs. 98 cents one year earlier, on a 7.5% revenue rise.


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