Markets & Finance

Marriott Advances on an Analyst Upgrade


Merrill upgraded Marriott (MAR) to buy from neutral, saying the hotel operator will likely reap more revenue per available room throughout 2004 amid the strengthening economy.

Adolor (ADLR) says a statistically significant difference was achieved in its second Phase 3 clinical study of Entereg, its treatment for postoperative ileus, a delayed recovery of bowel function following surgery. There is no currently approved treatment for the condition, and Adolor plans to file for marketing approval in the first half of 2004. Pacific Growth reiterates overweight. WR Hambrecht upgraded to buy.

Citigroup downgraded General Dynamics (GD) to sell from hold.

Geron (GERN) shares rose following a presentation Monday night at a UBS Warburg Global Life Sciences Conference, where the company gave positive information on patients in the high-dosage section of its prostate cancer vaccine trial.

Automotive parts retailer AutoZone (AZO) soared after posting $2.27, vs. $1.73, fourth-quarter earnings per share on 3% higher same-store sales. Total fourth-quarter sales fell slightly. S&P upgraded to accumulate from hold.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT) CEO Barry Sternlicht says in a CNBC interview that occupancy and room rates are rising. Sternlicht added that the wait for a recovery in the lodging industry is over. S&P reiterates avoid.

Priceline.com (PCLN) shares dipped further. On Monday the stock fell on news of InterActivecorp's proposed acquisition of discount travel website Hotwire.com.

Tyson Foods (TSN) sees 35 cents to 40 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP), citing a strong beef segment. Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch raised its estimates. S&P reiterates hold.

BB&T Capital kept its hold rating on Wild Oats Markets (OATS), saying despite speculation, the natural foods grocer is an unlikely takeover candidate.

CS First Boston downgraded Renaissance Learning (RLRN) to underperform from neutral.

J.P. Morgan upgraded Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) to neutral from underweight, saying improving weather helped lift comparisons.

Verizon Communications (VZ) cut the $2.70-$2.80 2003 earnings per share estimate to $2.56-$2.60, and says the lower guidance is due to additional operational impacts from issues emerging since mid-year (10 cents to 12 cents), and a change in the treatment of retiree healthcare obligations (4 cents).

Home-improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW) says third-quarter same-store sales are running ahead of previous expectations for a 5%-6% increase. Based on solid sales performance, Lowe's now expects 52 cents to 53 cents third-quarter earnings per share, and $2.27-$2.28 for fiscal 2004.

Goldman Sachs (GS) posted $1.32, vs. $1.00, third-quarter earnings per share on a 4% revenue rise.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly (LLY) confirmed the 65 cents to 67 cents third quarter earnings per share guidance, and sees $2.55-$2.60 2003 (adjusted) earnings per share.

Lehman Brothers (LEH) posted $1.81, vs. 70 cents, third quarter earnings per share, beating analysts' average estimates.

Morgan Stanley (MWD) posted $1.15, vs. 55 cents, third-quarter earnings per share.

Gene Logic (GLGC) sees $72 million to $76 million 2003 revenues on a pro forma basis, which is lower than previously announced. Gene Logic cited continued soft spending in pharmaceutical research, and unexpected delays in biotechnology and government projects.

Hillenbrand Industries (HB), a maker of funeral caskets, raised the $1.03-$1.08 fourth-quarter earnings per share estimate to $1.08-$1.11.

United Therapeutics (UTHR) says a General Commission of the French Regulatory Agency has recommended that Remodulin not be approved in France based on insufficient demonstration of clinical efficacy for the claimed indication.

Cadence Design (CDN) and Mentor Graphics (MENT) settled all outstanding litigation between them relating to emulation and acceleration systems. Mentor will pay Cadence $18 million in cash.

Outback Steakhouse (OSI) confirmed trade press reports that it has an agreement, in principle, to co-develop a new Asian restaurant concept called Paul Lee's Chinese Kitchen.

JetBlue Airways (JBLU) will be added to the S&P MidCap 400 Index after the close of trading on Sept. 23, replacing Hispanic Broadcasting, which is being acquired.


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