Markets & Finance

Nash Finch Surges


Food and retail chain-store operator Nash Finch (NAFCE

) received a favorable response from the Securities and Exchange Commission indicating that, based on the company's oral and written representations, the SEC will not object at this time to the company's accounting for Count-Recount charges. J.P. Morgan upgraded. S&P reiterates avoid.

AnnTaylor Stores (ANN

) dropped after posting 35 cents fourth quarter earnings per share vs. a one-cent loss (including charges) on 12% lower comp-store sales. The retailer lowered its first quarter earnings per share guidance from 45 cents to 47 cents to 39 cents to 41 cents, citing severe weather and economic uncertainty.

The Washington Post reported of a widened scope of ongoing government probes into potential irregularities at AOL Time Warner (AOL

). S&P reiterates hold.

Consolidated Energy (CNX

) fell after the coal producer lowered its 15 cents to 20 cents first quarter earnings per share guidance to breakeven to five cents earnings per share, citing lower tons produced from Mine 84 as the result of a fire and related costs.

Telecom Italia(TI

) shares plunged. The company says its ongoing plan to merge with Olivetti, which already owns more than half of Telecom Italia, will include an exchange ratio of seven Telecom Italia shares for each Olivetti share, with the right of withdrawal for Olivetti shareholders.

First Bell Bancorp (FBBC

) agreed to be acquired by Northwest Bancorp, its Northwest Savings Bank unit, in a $120 millio deal. Terms: $26.25 cash per First Bell share.

Wachovia cut its estimates on Morgan Stanley (MWD

), citing higher credit card charge-offs.

Shares of Black Box (BBOX

), a maker of network infrastructure systems, dropped. The company say it now sees 53 cents to 54 cents fourth quarter earnings per share on $131 million to $133 million revenues, before 29 cents to 32 cents in charges. Black Box notes March business is soft, as was business in January and February. S&P reiterates accumulate. Southwest Securities downgraded.

Vail Resorts (MTN

) posted 48 cents vs. 62 cents second quarter earnings per share, and lowered the 2003 total resort EBITDA forecast to $128 million to $138 million.

Standard & Poor's will remove AMR (AMR

), the parent company of American Airlines, from the S&P 500 index because of its low market capitalization and price per share. Apartment Investment & Management (AIV

), a Denver-based apartment complex owner, will replace AMR in the index.

Altera (ALTR

) raised its first quarter revenue guidance to 4% sequential growth vs. the previous flat estimate, plus or minus 2%. S&P upgraded to accumulate.

McDonald's (MCD

) posted 4% higher total February systemwide sales, and 4.7% lower total brand sales for restaurants in operation for at least 13 months.

Thomas Weisel lowered its estimates on General Dynamics (GD

). On Tuesday the company reduced its Gulfstream delivery forecast to 77 aircraft from 85.

Duke Energy (DUK

) will decrease 2003 capital expenditures by $200 million to further enhance cash flow, and reaffirmed support of its dividend.

Foot Locker (Z

) posted 33 cents vs. 28 cents fourth quarter earnings per share from continuing operations on flat same store sales, and a 5.1% total sales rise.

Buca (BUCA

) lowered the first quarter earnings guidance to seven cents vs. the previous 11 cents estimate, citing severe winter weather and lower sales for its Buca di Beppo restaurants, and lower sales trends at Vinny Testa's of Boston.

Gerber Scientific (GRB

)posted seven cents third quarter earnings per share vs. a 17-cent loss (including a charge) on a 4.5% revenue rise.

UBS Warburg reportedly upgraded Ford Motor (F

) to neutral from reduce.

Goldman reportedly upgraded Aetna (AET

) to outperform from in-line.

Talbots (TLB

) posted 48 cents vs. 53 cents fourth quarter earnings per share on flat sales growth.


Later, Baby
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