Markets & Finance

Maytag Warns of Limp Hoover Sales


Maytag (MYG) shares fell after warning that first quarter earnings per share and sales would not meet expectations. The consumer appliances company says weak volumes and a deteriorating sales mix shift in its Hoover floor care products will be the major impact on earnings per share. S&P downgraded to hold.

Shares of King Pharmaceuticals (KG) dropped on news that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company's sales of products to VitaRx and Prison Health Services during 1999 and 2000, as well as all documents related to the pricing of King's drugs to government Medicaid agencies during 1999. The subpoena also focuses on rebates given to buyers of its Altace hypertension drug since 2000. Merrill downgraded. S&P reiterates hold.

USB Piper downgraded risk management firm ChoicePoint (CPS) to outperform from strong buy, and believes 2003 organic growth will decelerate vs. 2002.

Sylvan Learning (SLVN) sees 80 cents to 82 cents 2003 earnings per share from continuing operations. Sylvan will divest its K-12 education business, disband Sylvan Ventures, and focus on post-secondary education. The company sees 2004 earnings per share of more than $1.12.

Goldman upgraded government IT services provider Anteon International (ANT) to outperform from in-line.USB Piper downgraded risk management firm ChoicePoint (CPS) to outperform from strong buy, and believes 2003 organic growth will decelerate vs. 2002.

Goldman upgraded government IT services provider Anteon International (ANT) to outperform from in-line.

Jo-Ann Stores (JAS.A) posted $1.24 vs. $1.01 fourth quarter earnings per share (a year ago included a $4 million charge) on a 5.5% revenue rise. The crafts retailer sees 32 cents to 37 cents first quarter earnings per share, and flat comps in the first half of the year.

UnumProvident (UNM) says, in response to a letter from Moody's, that its cash flow and capacity to pay dividends remain strong. CS First Boston cut its estimates and target, and maintains its underperform rating.

Wireless software firm InfoSpace (INSP) filed a suit against Naveen Jain, founder and former CEO, and Kevin Marcus, former chief software architect, alleging breach of fiduciary and contractual duties and misappropriating InfoSpace trade secrets.

Financial Federal (FIF) posted 46 cents vs. 50 cents third quarter earnings per share on an increase in net credit losses, non-performing assets, and delinquent receivables. USB Piper downgraded to market perform from outperform.

Heinz (HNZ) posted 54 cents vs. 46 cents third quarter earnings per share (continuing operations) on a 9.1% sales rise, beating the forecast of 52 cents per share. The maker of condiments and other processed foods remains on track to achieve $2.00-$2.05 fiscal 2003 earnings per share from continuing operations.

Nokia (NOK), the world's largest mobile phone maker, sees 15 euro cents to 17 euro cents first quarter earnings per share (pro forma), which is within the previously stated guidance. Mobile phone sales are seen at the low end of flat to 9% growth guidance.

Morgan Stanley upgraded Avery Dennison (AVY) to overweight from equal-weight.

Herman Miller (MLHR) sees third quarter earnings per share in the lower half of a previously-announced three cents to seven cents range, and notes an industry-wide softening in customer demand. UBS Warburg cut its estimates. S&P reiterates avoid.

First Albany upgraded Borland Software (BORL) to buy from neutral.

Sabre Holdings (TSG) lowered its first quarter earnings per share from operations to 38 cents to 42 cents vs. the previous 47 cents to 52 cents forecast. Sabre now estimates first quarter revenue to be down 4%-6% vs. the previous range of -2% to +2% growth. S&P says sell.

Stanley Furniture (STLY) will realign its Lexington, N.C. facility, and reduce 150-525 positions. Despite an uncertain economy, Stanley reaffirmed the 47 cents to 52 cents first quarter earnings per share on $58 million to $61 million forecast.

M-Systems (FLSH), an Israeli maker of flash-based data storage products, says based on current order trends, it expects first quarter revenue to exceed the fourth quarter 2002, and continues to see strength with business.

Grocery chain Kroger (KR) posted 49 cents vs. 50 cents fourth quarter earnings per share from operations despite a 2.8% sales rise. The company sees $1.63 2003 earnings per share, consistent with the previous $1.65 guidance, after an expense of two cents per share. S&P reiterates hold.

Delta Air (DAL) sees a 1.5% drop in first quarter system capacity vs. the previous expectation for a 0.5%-1% gain, citing current geopolitical uncertainties. S&P downgraded to sell.

Websense (WBSN) will be added to the S&P Small Cap 600 after the close of trading on Mar. 12, replacing Fleming, which has traded at or below $2 for five consecutive days.

Motorola (MOT) shareholders continue to reject an extended unsolicited tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Next Level Communications that it doesn't currently own for $1.04 per share.

Goodrich (GR) lowered the 2003 guidance to $1.60-$1.75 to reflect the sale of payment-in-kind notes, the expected sale of Avionics business, and a writedown in its Cordiem investment. Free cash flow guidance remains unchanged.


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