Markets & Finance

Accenture Drops


Accenture (ACN) posted 33 cents, vs. 27 cents first-quarter earnings per share (including a 6 cent gain) on an 11% revenue rise before reimbursements. Analysts were expecting, on average, earnings of 28 cents per share. The consulting firm sees 21 cents to 27 cents second-quarter earnings per share on $3.1 billion to $3.25 billion revenue. It sees 8% to 12% 2004 revenue growth.

Pacific Growth says margins are disappointing, and keeps equal-weight.

American Italian Pasta (PLB) sees lower-than-expected 44 cents to 45 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and $2.55 to $2.70 fiscal 2004 earnings per share on sales of $490 million to $520 million. The pasta maker initiated a $0.1875 quarterly dividend. S&P, Bear Stearns, and Legg Mason downgraded.

Storage Technologies (STK) expects fourth-quarter total revenue in excess of $650 million, and earnings per share in excess of 55 cents. The results are stronger than expected. UBS raised its estimates and target, and maintains the neutral rating. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Applebee's International (APPB) posted 2.8% higher December comparison sales for company restaurants. The results were negatively affected by more severe winter weather. Applebees's sees system-wide comp sales of at least +3% for 2004, and $1.98 to $2.02 2004 earnings per share.

Banc of America upgraded Toys R Us (TOY) to neutral from sell.

TheraSense (THER), a maker of glucose monitoring systems, agreed to be acquired by Abbott Laboratories (ABT) for $1.2 billion cash, or $27 per share -- a 33% premium to TheraSense's closing price on Jan. 13.

Transkaryotic Therapeutics (TKTX) will cease efforts to seek U.S. approval of the Replagal enzyme replacement therapy for Fabry disease from the FDA. Based on a preliminary review of vial shipments, the company expects fourth-quarter Replagal product sales to approximate third-quarter sales.

Genzyme (GENZ) says fourth-quarter revenue was $479 million, vs. a year ago's $298 million. S&P reiterated its buy opinion. Schwab SoundView raised its estimates.

Medco Health Solutions (MHS) announced a multi-year agreement to provide administrative support services for the pharmaceutical-benefit management enterprises of UnitedHealthcare (UNH), and its other businesses.

Inamed (IMDC) sees $1.90 to $2.00 2004 earnings per share (GAAP) on an expected rise in total sales at a low-double digit rate over sales in 2003. S&P reiterated its hold rating and cut the estimate and price target.

Storage Technologies (STK) expects fourth-quarter total revenue in excess of $650 million, and earnings per share in excess of 55 cents. The results are stronger than the company expected. S&P reiterates accumulate.

SAP (SAP) sees about 3% lower fourth-quarter software revenue, and about 3% lower total revenue.

Tetra Technologies (TTI) sees $1.09-$1.39 2004 earnings per share. Tetra will aggressively pursue expansion through internal growth and external acquisitions in 2004; it doesn't anticipate acquiring anything that would not be accretive within the first year.

State Street (STT) posted 71 cents, vs. 54 cents fourth-quarter operating earnings per share on a 23% operating revenue rise.


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