Markets & Finance

S&P Says Buy Nextel


Nextel Communications (NXTL): Maintains 5 STARS (buy), and U.S. Cellular (USM): Maintains 4 STARS (accumulate)

Analyst: Kenneth Leon

Wireless carriers showed positive June quarter results compared to March, and we expect the second half outlook to show further improvement in adding new subscribers, average revenue per user, along with widening EBITDA service margins. Despite the S&P Wireless Telecom. Index up 44% year to date through Aug. 1, S&P believes the sector remains attractive. S&P recommends Nextel Communications and U.S. Cellular as S&P's favorites. Both trade at a discount to peers on a price to earnings and enterprise value to EBITDA on S&P's 2003 estimates.

Univl (UVV): Maintains 3 STARS (hold)

Analyst: Anishka Clarke

The tobacco and lumber distributor's fourth-quarter earnings per share, before special items, of $1.30 vs. $1.03, is considerably above S&P's estimate and Univl's guidance. Despite lower Zimbabwe volumes, sales grew 14% on stronger euro currency and higher South American volumes. Lumber profits rose 20%, aided by currency; agri-business profits grew 67%. In fiscal 2004 (June), S&P sees higher South American shipments offsetting declines in Zimbabwe; tight cost controls should widen margins. Trading at 8 times S&P's fiscal 2004 estimate of $5.28, S&P thinks a discount to peers is justified given expectations for further weakness in Zimbabwe and Europe.

Nvidia (NVDA): Maintains 3 STARS (hold)

Analyst: Thomas Smith

Nvidia reported second-quarter fiscal 2004 (Jan.) earnings per share of 14 cents, vs. 3 cents, which is 3 cents above S&P's estimate, following a July 28 warning. Revenue rose 8% year-over-year and 14% quarter-over-quarter. S&P believes the negative surprise of guidance for flat-to-down gross margin in the October quarter slightly outweighs the positive surprise of guidance for a lower tax rate. S&P is lowering S&P's fiscal 2004 earnings per share estimate to 52 cents from 55 cents. The shares trade at a discount to S&P's intrinsic value based on discounted cash flow analysis, and near peers but above the S&P 500 at 25 times S&P's fiscal 2005 earnings per share estimate of 78 cents. S&P's 12-month target price is $20.

Emulex (ELX): Maintains 5 STARS (buy)

Analyst: Richard Stice

Emulex posted June-quarter earnings per share of 23 cents vs. 16 cents, before amortization charges -- a penny above S&P's estimate. GAAP earnings per share was 22 cents, vs. a loss of 14 cents per share. Revenue rose 16%, aided by strength in the mid-range segment. Gross margin widened to 64% -- the ninth straight quarter of expansion. S&P is keeping S&P's fiscal 2004 (June) earnings per share estimate at $1.02. We thinks Emulex is executing well and enhancing its industry leadership position. It's trading at a discount to the S&P 500 on a p-e-to-growth basis and to S&P's intrinsic value calculation. Combining the two valuations yields S&P's 12-month target price of $27.

Univision Communications (UVN): Maintains 4 STARS (accumulate)

Analyst: Tuna Amobi

Univision posted 16 cents second-quarter earnings per share, vs. 9 cents -- a penny about S&P's estimate ande 4 cents above the Street's estimate. Excluding revenues from the 2002 soccer World Cup, revenues dipped 1%, as expected. But EBITDA grew 25%, with robust Spanish audience growth at threee networks and key O&O stations. Univision guided to third-quarter 11 cents to 13 cents earnings per share on mid-teens revenue growth. S&P thinks the FCC's greenlight on the pending merger with Hispanic Broadcasting is imminent. After 17 cents to 19 cents in stock option costs, S&P sees S&P core earnings per share of 33 cents for 2003 and 45 cents for 2004. With above-average growth expected, the premium enterprise value to EBITDA multiple of 18 is warranted, in S&P's view.

Dial (DL): Maintains 3 STARS (hold)

Analyst: Howard Choe

Dial raised its quarterly dividend to 9 cents from 4 cents, bringing the annual yield (1.8%) in line with peers. The company can now repurchase up to $100 million of common stock over two years. S&P views these moves favorably but has been anticipated them over the past year, given Dial's solid cash position. Even after taking these actions, cash flow should be sufficient for acquisitions. Given challenging sales and earnings comparisons ahead, and with shares trading at 15 times S&P's 2004 estimate, S&P sees Dial performing in line with the market.


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