Markets & Finance

Medco Health Falls


Medco Health (MHS) cut the $1.75 to $1.86 2004 GAAP earnings per share guidance to $1.64 to $1.75 on the loss of a Blue Cross Blue Shield mail order account serving federal employees starting in 2005. S&P downgraded; First Albany cut its estimate.

Ireland-based drugmaker Elan (ELN) and biotech giant Biogen IDEC (BIIB) plan to submit to the FDA an application for approval of Antegren as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. The companies expect to submit a filing by mid-year 2004 -- a year ahead of schedule. Analysts estimate the market for MS treatment to be worth about $4 billion. First Albany and AG Edwards upgraded Biogen to buy, while S&P kept its accumulate ranking. Seperately, Elan posted negative fourth-quarter EBITDA of $34.9 million on $157.5 million in revenue.

Netease.com (NTES) posted $11.4 million, vs. $5.2 million in fourth-quarter net profit on a 77% revenue rise.

Caremark RX (CMX) says Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's Federal Employee Program selected it to administer its standard option mail-service program starting in 2005.

Brooktrout (BRKT) posted 15 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, vs. an 8 cents loss on a 29% revenue rise. The company sees $21 million to $22.5 million in first-quarter revenue. Raymond James raised its estimates, and reiterates strong buy.

Rambus (RMBS) says an anti-trust suit brought against the company by the Federal Trade Commission was dismissed in its entirety. Rambus was charged with illegally monopolizing key computer chip technologies.

Broadcom (BRCM) announced it will hold a conference call after the close of trading Wednesday "to discuss its stronger business outlook." S&P thinks Broadcom will raise its March-quarter revenue guidance, and reiterates the hold ranking.

S&P says shares of Providian Financial (PVN) are under pressure following a Financial Times report that Barclays has broken off talks on buying Providian. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Disney (DIS) agreed to acquire the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House characters from Jim Henson Company. The terms were not disclosed. On Tuesday Disney's board rejected a $66 billion hostile takeover offer from cable giant Comcast.

Electronics and testing equipment maker Agilent Technologies (A) posted 21 cents first-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 23 cents loss on a 16% revenue rise. Agilent says without a normal first-quarter drop, it is somewhat cautious about assuming the usual seasonal rise in second-quarter activity. S&P reiterates hold.

El Paso (EP) will take a fourth-quarter pre-tax ceiling test charge of about $1 billion (assuming all adjustments are reflected at Dec. 31, 2003).

Apria Healthcare (AHG) posted 58 cents, vs. 72 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite an 8% revenue rise.

Network Appliances (NTAP) posted 11 cents, vs. 6 cents third-quarter earnings per share (pro forma) on a 30% revenue rise. First Albany raised its estimate. S&P reiterates avoid.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) posted 96 cents, vs. 93 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite 11% lower same-store sales. The retailer initiated a 50 cents annual dividend. Abercrombie says it's comfortable with the current 26 cents first-quarter earnings per share estimate. Wachovia upgraded to outperform, and S&P keeps accumulate.

Kos Pharmaceuticals (KOSP) posted 49 cents, vs. 18 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 59% revenue rise.

Jack In The Box (JBX) posted 58 cents, vs. 56 cents first-quarter earnings per share from operations on 3.1% higher same-store sales. The quick-service restaurant sees 28 cents second-quarter earnings per share, and raised the $1.68 fiscal 2004 earnings per share guidance to $1.74 (excluding charges). Citigroup raised its estimates. S&P reiterates hold.

Jones Apparel (JNY) posted 33 cents, vs. 39 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite a 1.2% net sales rise. The retailer sees 55 cents to 60 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and 55 cents to 60 cents in the second quarter.


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