Markets & Finance

Applebee's Climbs on Stronger Earnings Outlook


Applebee's (APPB) posted 45 cents, vs. 37 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on 4.8% higher system-wide comparison sales. The restaurant operator raised the 2003 system-wide comparison sales growth guidance to 3.5% to 4%, and upped the earnings per share estimate to $1.73 to $1.75, which excludes a 10 cents charge. S&P reiterates hold.

Liz Claiborne (LIZ) posted 89 cents, vs. 78 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on a 13% net sales rise. The retailer sees 63 cents to 66 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 4% to 6% sales growth, and $2.65 to $2.72 2004 earnings per share on 3% to 6% sales growth

Mobile-phone maker Ericsson (ERICY) posted a 0.25 (US$0.03) Swedish Krona (SEK) third-quarter loss, vs. a SEK 0.41 loss despite a 16% net sales decline. Ericsson sees reported 2003 SEK-based sales lower than the overall market due to a foreign exchange impact.

BMC Software (BMC) shares rose after the company reported second-quarter earnings per share of 10 cents, vs. 8 cents a year ago, on a 15% revenue rise. On a GAAP basis, it posted a 6 cent loss, vs. 4 cents earnings per share a year ago.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM) posted a 3 cents third-quarter loss, vs. a 42 cents loss (GAAP) on 18% higher revenue. Prudential upgraded to overweight from neutral.

Bear Stearns downgraded PalmOne (PLMO), a maker of Palm devices and products, to underperform from peer perform.

Software maker InfoSpace (INSP) posted 5 cents third-quarter earnings per share, vs. an 87 cents loss (GAAP), on a 14% revenue rise. InfoSpace sees fourth-quarter earnings per share in line with the third-quarter earnings per share (before any one-time gains or losses) on $36 million to $38 million in revenues. Wedbush Morgan upgraded to buy from hold.

Newell Rubbermaid (NWL) posted better-than-expected 40 cents, vs. 46 cents, third-quarter earnings per share from operations on a slight sales decline. Newell sees 51 cents to 54 cents in the fourth quarter, and $1.60 to $1.63 2003 earnings per share from operations. The maker of Rubbermaid storage products sees $1.60 to $1.68 2004 earnings per share. S&P reiterates avoid.

Photon Dynamics (PHTN) posted a 95 cents fourth-quarter loss, vs. a $1.00 loss, on a 62% revenue rise. Photon sees a 3 cents loss to 3 cents earnings per share in the first quarter on $21 million to $23 million in revenue. Needham upgraded to buy from hold. Merrill reportedly upgraded.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) posted 55 cents, vs. 44 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on an 11% revenue rise. S&P reiterates buy.

RehabCare (RHB) posted 20 cents, vs. 27 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on a 5.4% revenue drop. RehabCare lowered the 2003 earnings per share guidance to 95 cents to $1.10 (including a charge). The provider of rehabilitation services cited the negative impact of Part B therapy caps on estimated Contract Therapy contribution margins.

NetScreen Technologies (NSCN) posted 8 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP), vs. a 1 cent loss, on a 74% revenue rise. Netscreen sees 7% to 9% fourth-quarter sequential revenue growth, and 43% to 51% growth in fiscal 2004, excluding the planned acquisition of Neoteris. First Albany and AG Edwards upgraded.

Ocular Sciences (OCLR) posted 38 cents, vs. 48 cents, third-quarter earnings per share despite a 14% sales rise. Ocular upped the 2003 earnings per share guidance to $1.03 to $1.05, including charges, on 12% to 14% sales growth. It expects double-digit 2004 earnings per share growth on a minimum 8% sales rise.

Chiron (CHIR) posted 60 cents third-quarter earnings per share (pro forma) from continuing operations on a 47% revenue rise. It sees 2003 earnings per share (pro forma) at the upper end of a $1.40 to $1.50 range, and $1.80 to $1.90 2004 earnings per share (pro forma) from continuing operations. S&P downgraded to hold.

Aetna (AET) posted $1.35, vs. 64 cents, third-quarter earnings per share (from continuing operations and on a GAAP basis) despite a 7.5% total revenue decline. The health-benefits company raised the 2003 operating earnings per share guidance to $5.00 to $5.05.

At an Oct. 29 analyst conference, Internet auction giant eBay (EBAY) reaffirmed its guidance, saying fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) could be 19 cents on revenue of up to $590 million, and that 2003 earnings per share could be 65 cents on revenue of up to $2.1 billion; 2004 earnings per share could be 91 cents on revenue of up to $2.9 billion.

Bausch & Lomb (BOL) posted 60 cents, vs. 17 cents (including items) third-quarter earnings per share on 9% higher worldwide revenue. The eye health-care company sees 79 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share. Bausch & Lomb expects 2004 revenue to grow in the mid-single digits, and anticipates $2.50-$2.60 earnings per share.

Aspen Technology (AZPN) posted 10 cents third-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 34 cents loss (GAAP), despite flat total revenue growth. Bear Stearns upgraded to peer perform from underperform.

Coventry Health (CVH) posted $1.11, vs. 66 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on a 29% revenue rise. It sees $1.11 to $1.13 fourth-quarter earnings per share, and sees $4.75 to $4.85 2004 earnings per share.

Providian Financial (PVN) posted 29 cents, vs. 15 cents, third-quarter earnings per share despite a 21% net revenue decline. UBS Financial reportedly downgraded to neutral from buy.

Electronic Data Systems (EDS) posted breakeven, vs. 21 cents, third-quarter earnings per share despite 3% organic revenue growth. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Andrx (ADRX) posted 16 cents third-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 47 cents loss, on a 35% total revenue rise.

Capital One (COF) sees lower-than-expected $5.20 to $5.40 2004 earnings per share. It expects the 2004 growth rate of its managed-loan portfolio to be in the mid-teens. Capital One says it will continue to provide earnings per share guidance, but only for each subsequent year.

Research funded by Merck (MRK) suggests that the drugmaker's popular painkiller, Vioxx, may increase the risk of heart attacks in patients taking the pill, according to a story reported in The Wall Street Journal.

Starbucks (SBUX) posted 9% higher October same-store sales, and 30% higher total sales.

CORRECTION: On Wednesday, Talk America (TALK) posted $1.74 (including a one-time gain), vs. 42 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on a 26% total revenue rise. Talk America raised the $30 million to $34 million 2003 net income guidance to $34 million to $36 million (excluding a deferred tax benefit.) The local- and long-distance carrier sees $34 million to $36 million in 2004 net income. Talk America revised the $373 to $386 million 2003 total revenue estimate to $377 million to $385 million. Earlier, the story included incorrect guidance estimates.


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