Markets & Finance

Toys R Us Tumbles after Loss Widens


Toys R Us (TOY) posted an 18 cents third-quarter loss, vs. a 13 cents loss on flat total sales (excluding the impact of foreign exchange.) The toy retailer cut the fiscal 2004 earnings per share estimate to $1.05 to $1.15, excluding the impact of an accounting change and charges. Toys R Us plans to close its freestanding Kids R Us and Imaginarium stores. S&P downgrades to hold. J.P. Morgan keeps neutral.

A New Jersey newspaper reported that the former director of Gibbs College, a unit of Career Education (CECO) is suing the company, claiming she was fired for refusing to falsify student records. Banc of America says the attention brought about by a lawsuit may have implicatons for Career Education's multiple. S&P suspended its rating.

Publisher Hollinger (HLR) retained Lazard to review alternatives. The company announced the retirement of CEO Lord Conrad Black, and the resignation of David Radler as president, COO, and publisher of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Drugmaker QLT (QLTI) says privately-held EyeTech Pharmaceuticals presented data showing that results for EyeTech's Macugen -- the nearest-to-market competitive threat to QLT's Visudyne -- is no more effective in treating wet age-related macular degeneration, a type of eye disease that contributes to age-related blindness. Raymond James upgraded QLT to outperform.

American Pharmaceuticals (APPX) received FDA approval to launch Piperacillin for injection, the generic equivalent of Wyeth's Pipracil. Piperacillin is an antibiotic for the treatment of serious infections caused by designated susceptible microorganisms.

CIBC World downgraded PMC-Sierra (PMCS) to sector underperform from sector perform on valuation.

Jefferies downgraded Isle of Capri Casinos (ISLE) to hold from buy.

Silicon Image (SIMG) says its 10-Q, which is due to be filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission on Nov. 14, will not be timely filed due to an ongoing examination that's being conducted by its audit committee. Needham placed its buy rating under review.

Merrill downgraded Wyeth (WYE) to neutral from buy.

UBS Financial downgraded Varian Semiconductor (VSEA) to neutral from buy on valuation.

Digital-media software company Roxio (ROXI) appointed Nand Gangwani as CFO, effective immediately.. USB Piper downgraded to outperform from strong buy.

Deloitte & Touche resigned as Shurgard Storage 's (SHU) outside auditor. Citigroup downgraded to sell from buy.

Travelers Property & Casualty (TAP.B) agreed to be acquired by St. Paul Cos. (SPC) in a deal valued at about $16 billion. The terms are 0.4334 St. Paul share per Travelers share.

Biotech firm VaxGen (VXGN) will restate financial results for 2001, 2002, and the first two quarters of 2003 due to accounting revisions for certain warrants, and beneficial conversion features relating to 2001 financing. As a result, its third-quarter 10-Q will be delayed.

Alliance Capital Management (AC) says it recorded a $190 million third-quarter charge to cover restitution, litigation, and other costs related to an internal investigation of market-timing in mutual funds. Alliance also announced related resignations.

CS First Boston downgraded Myriad Genetics (MYGN) to underperform from neutral.

EBay (EBAY) offered to acquire, via a cash tender offer, the remaining publicly-held common shares of Internet Auction, a Korean online trading company.

Charles Schwab (SCH) says an internal investigation has revealed evidence of market-timing arrangements and late trading.

Tommy Hilfiger (TOM) is in talks with Dillard's, its largest customer, to mutually agree on the level of distribution to enable each company to better achieve their financial goals. Tommy Hilfiger says the impact of any decision could materially reduce second-half fiscal 2004 revenue and earnings per share.

Sun Microsystems (SUNW) is expected to announce an alliance with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD ) aimed at helping the companies fight larger rivals, according to The Wall Street Journal.


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