Markets & Finance

Seagate Technology Rises


Goldman Sachs upgraded Seagate Technology (STX) and Dell (DELL) to outperform -- its highest rating. Goldman also upgraded the enterprise hardware sector to neutral, from cautious.

Vivendi Universal's (V) board signed an agreement to conduct exclusive negotiations to merge its U.S. film and TV unit with General Electric's (GE) NBC unit. Under the terms, NBC would control the merged company, to be called NBC Universal, and Vivendi would retain a 20% stake. The merged company expects $13 billion in annual revenue.

Pacific Growth reiterates overweight on Pacific Sunwear (PSUN), saying the specialty retailer had another strong month of sales in August.

J.P. Morgan upgraded Bebe Stores (BEBE) to overweight.

Helen of Troy (HELE) agreed to acquire Brut for the U.S., Canada, and the rest of Western Hemisphere from Unilever. The transaction expected to add to Helen of Troy's earnings in the remainder of fiscal year 2004, with earnings per share contribution in the 20 cents to 24 cents range.

Sabre's Travelocity unit terminated a deal to give exclusivity to InterActive (IACI) unit Hotels.com under a hotel supply agreement between Hotels.com and Travelocity.

Research In Motion (RIMM) shares fell on a report in Barron's saying the stock price has reached dangerous heights. Competition is zeroing in on RIMM, threatening its fat gross margins on proprietary hardware, and the company is on the losing end of two key legal battles, reports Barron's.

Republic Service (RSG) shares fell after the company cut 2003 earnings per share guidance to $1.32 to $1.34 due to higher disposal costs related to above average rainfall in the eastern half of U.S., higher fuel costs, and continued pricing pressure in cyclical component of business. Merrill downgraded.

Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL) shares fell after Credit Suisse First Boston downgraded to neutral from outperform.

Credit Suisse First Boston upgraded USF Corp. (USFC) to outperform from neutral.

Tenet Healthcare (THC) will sell four hospitals in Arkansas to parent Triad Hospitals (TRI). Terms: $134 million cash, and the assumption of $8 million in net current liabilities. Triad sees the hospitals generating $250 million in 2003 revenue, and reiterates $2.14 to $2.20 2003 earnings per share guidance, and $2.46 to $2.70 earnings per share for 2004.

AstraZeneca (AZN) says its new drug, Atacand, improves survival in heart failure patients. Atacand, which is used to treat hypertension, reduced cardiovascular deaths or hospital visits for heart failure by 16%, the company said.

Encore Capital (ECPG) filed a Registration Statement on Form S-1 with the SEC relating to a proposed underwritten public offering of five million shares-- three million offered by the company, and two million by stockholders.

SoundView upgraded National Semiconductor (NSM) to outperform from neutral.

Merrill Lynch upgraded housing financiers Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) to buy.

Gillette (G) filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Energizer Holdings (ENR) over the sale of its Schick Quattro razors. Gillette claims the Quattro line infringes a Gillette patent. Gillette filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Energizer over the razor on Aug. 12.

Overstock.com (OSTK) will test a plan to price best-selling books a flat 25% below Amazon.com's pricing for the same books.


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