Markets & Finance

Express Scripts Sinks


Thomas Weisel downgraded pharmacy-benefit management company Express Scripts (ESRX) to peer perform from outperform, based on valuation relative to peers.

USB Piper downgraded Secure Computing (SCUR) to market perform from outperform.

CIBC World downgraded medical-device maker St. Jude Medical (STJ) to sector perform from outperform.

Deutsche Bank downgraded Sprint PCS (PCS) to sell from hold.

Wedbush Morgan upgraded eyewear retailer Oakley (OO) to buy from hold.

SoundView downgraded information-technology services company Electronic Data Systems (EDS) to neutral from outperform.

The new issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reported positive study results for a cancer-detection treatment developed by Advanced Magnetics(AVM). The imaging agent, called Combidex, can help cut down on unnecessary medical procedures, the study said. Cytogen (CYTO) has the rights to market Combidex in the U.S.

Metrologic Instruments (MTLG), a maker of imaging systems for bar-code scanners, sued Symbol Technologies for patent infringement and material breach of their cross-license agreement.

Level 3 Communications (LVLT) announced Longleaf Partners Funds, Berkshire Hathaway, and Legg Mason have converted all their outstanding 9% junior convertible subordinated notes into stock.

UBS Investment downgraded Morgan Stanley (MWD) to neutral from buy, and J.P. Morgan downgraded to underweight from neutral. On Wednesday the investment bank posted 55 cents, vs. 72 cents second-quarter earnings per share.

Forest Labs (FRX) reported negative study data on memantine, which was given to patients receiving acetylcholinesterase inhibitor therapy for Alzheimer's disease.

Home-goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) posted 19 cents vs. 15 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 4.4% same store sales rise, and 15% total sales rise. But Bed & Bath wouldn't give guidance for the second quarter and full year, saying it preferred to remain conservative in a difficult retail environment. Wachovia downgraded to market perform from outperform.

Investment bank Lehman Brothers (LEH) posted a strong rise in fiscal second quarter earnings per share to $1.67, vs. $1.08.

Freddie Mac (FRE) could restate earnings by $1 billion to $3 billion, boosting the bottom line for the past two years but reducing net income by the same amount over the next several years, according to The Wall Street Journal. S&P keeps avoid.

Cablevision (CVC) identified improper expense accurals at the national service division of its Rainbow Media Group; the review covers a period from 1999 to 2002. To date, Cablevision has found that $6.2 million of expenses for 2003 were accelerated and improperly accrued in 2002. The company dismissed 14 people in connection with the review.

Jabil Circuit (JBL) posted 2 cents vs. 10 cents third-quarter GAAP earnings per share as higher costs offset a 43% revenue rise. Jabil posted 19 cents third-quarter core earnings per share. It sees fourth-quarter revenue increasing sequentially 3%-7%, and 10 cents to 12 cents GAAP earnings per share. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Micron Technology (MU) posted a 36-cent third-quarter loss vs. a 4-cent loss on a 5% revenue drop. Micron notes an approximate 15% decrease in average selling prices in the third quarter.

Pharmaceutical Resources (PRX) sees 71 cents to 73 cents second-quarter earnings per share, excluding a 6-cent to 8-cent one-time charge related to the retirement of CEO and president Kenneth Sawyer.

AT&T Wireless (AWE) is in a deal with Verizon Communications (VZ) to jointly sell a 49% interest in Eurotel Praha to Cesky Telecom for $1.05 billion. AT&T Wireless will receive $525 million.

Michaels Stores (MIK) sets an initial quarterly dividend of 10 cents. The craft-supplies retailer will repurchase up to one millio additional shares under a new repurchase program, bringing the total to 1.6 million shares.

Goody's Family (GDYS) set an initial 2-cent quartely dividend.


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