Markets & Finance

Schlumberger Soars


Schlumberger (SLB) posted 40 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations, vs. a $5.04 loss, on 11% revenue rise. Merrill Lynch upgraded to buy, from neutral. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Automatic Data Processing (ADP) posted 38 cents, vs. 43 cents second-quarter earnings per share despite an 8.9% total revenue rise. ADP narrowed the $1.50-$1.60 fiscal 2004 earnings per share guidance to $1.53-$1.58. Morgan Stanley reportedly upgraded to equal-weight from underweight.

J2 Global Communications (JCOM) says it expects 2004 earnings per share of $1.00-$1.15, which is below the consensus estimate, on revenue of $100 million to $105 million.

RBC Capital upgraded Hyperion Solutions (HYSL) to outperform. WR Hambrecht upgraded to buy. The software maker posted 21 cents, vs. 16 cents

Union Planters (UPC) agreed to merge with Regions Financial (RF). Terms: Each Union Planters share will be converted into 1 share of a new company; each Regions Financial share will be converted into 1.2346 shares of the new company. The new company plans a quarterly dividend of 3334. S&P upgraded Union Planters to hold.

Visteon (VC) posted a $6.87 fourth-quarter loss, vs. 27 cents, on a 1.8% revenue drop. Visteon notes fourth-quarter 2003 included special charges of $756 million. The car parts maker sees 5 cents to 15 cents first-quarter 2004 earnings per share on $4.8 billion to $4.9 billion in revenue. It also sees 50 cents to $1.00 2004 earnings per share on $18.6 billion to $18.8 billion in 2004 revenue.

Scientific-Atlanta (SFA) posted 33 cents, vs. 10 cents second-quarter earnings per share on an 18% sales rise. UBS Financial upgraded to neutral from reduce. S&P reiterates hold.

Microsoft (MSFT) shares were slightly higher in pre-market trading Friday after the company posted 14 cents, vs. 17 cents second-quarter earnings per share (including a stock-based compensation expense) on a 19% revenue rise. The software giant sees 23 cents to 24 cents third-quarter earnings per share on $8.6 billion to $8.7 billion in third-quarter revenue, as well as 82 cents to 83 cents fiscal 2004 earnings per share on increased revenue guidance of $35.6 billion to $35.9 billion. S&P reiterates buy.

Fortune Brands (FO) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.03, vs. 86 cents. Excluding items, Fortune posted an operating profit of $1.07 per share -- 4 cents ahead of analysts' average estimates. Sales rose 15.7% to $1.66 billion. The consumer brands firm says it's comfortable with the target for double-digit earnings growth in the first quarter and fiscal 2004.

Corning (GLW) posted a 2 cents fourth-quarter loss, vs. a 60 cents loss, on an 11% revenue rise. Corning expects first-quarter sales of $770 million to $830 million, with earnings per share of 4 cents to 5 cents, before special items.

Boeing (BA) said the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense reportedly is expected to award a 13 billion British pound ($24 billion) contract for refueling aircraft to a consortium led by Boeing rival European Aeronautic Defence & Space. S&P reiterates buy.

Halliburton (HAL) told the Pentagon that two employees took up to $6 million in kickbacks in return for awarding a Kuwaiti company with lucrative work supplying U.S. troops according to The Wall Street Journal .

Lattice Semiconductor (LSCC) plans to release fourth-quarter and 2003 results in the second-half of February. Lattice says management recently became aware of a possible overstatement of its deferred income account.


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