Markets & Finance

Marvel Lowers Guidance


Cablevision Systems (CVC) posted a fourth quarter loss per share of 69 cents vs. earnings per share of $1.66 one year earlier as higher costs and expenses offset a 12% revenue rise. The company expects to restate its 2000-2002 annual results and its 2002-2003 quarterly results. It sees 2004 telecom total revenue up 12% to 14%.

In its annual report, General Electric (GE) says it is in a sound position to grow dividends. Chairman Jeffrey Immelt reportedly says GE's revenues in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Iraq should more than quadruple to $5 billion in 2005.

Ligand Pharmaceutical (LGND) announced that Eli Lilly (LLY) will advance LY 519818, a compound licensed from Ligand, to Phase III clinical testing in Type II diabetes. The company also said it will post fourth-quarter results on Mar. 3. First Albany kept its buy rating.

Mamma.com (MAMA) shares surged after the company posted fourth quarter earnings per share from continuing operations of 9 cents, vs. a 1-cent loss, on a sharp revenue rise.

Gemstar-TV Guide (GMST) says Dish Network will pay $190 million to use Gemstar's intellectual property, technology, and TV Guide brand. The companies will launch the TV Guide Channel. The two companies will resolve all litigation between them, and Dish will buy certain Gemstar assets for $48 million.

Marvel Enterprises (MVL) cut its 2004 earnings per share guidance from $1.31-$1.48 to $1.23-$1.37, citing a higher tax rate. The comic-book publisher posted fourth quarter earnings per share of 18 cents. Marvel also set a 3-for-2 stock split. First Albany cut its estimate.

Prudential downgraded Universal Health Services (UHS) to neutral from overweight. Banc of America downgraded the shares to neutral from buy. On Mar. 1, the company said first quarter earnings per share could be as much as 25% lower than the 84 cents of one year ago.

Banc of America upgraded the oil and gas exploration and production sector to overweight from market weight.The firm upgraded Pogo Producing (PPP), Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Houston Exploration (THX), Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD), Talisman Energy (TLM), Unocal (UCL), XTO Energy (XTO), and Nexen (NXY) to buy from neutral.

CE Unterburg reportedly upgraded Cytyc (CYTC) to long-term buy from long-term marketperform. On Mar. 1, Cytyc announced plans to acquire privately held Novacept for $325 million in cash.

Lockheed Martin (LMT) announced the retirement of its chairman and CEO Vance Coffman. It named president and COO Robert Stevens as Coffman's successor.

Banc of America upgraded Texas Instruments (TXN) to buy from neutral.

Deutsche Bank, First Albany, and Friedman Billings each downgraded their ratings on MedImmune (MEDI). On Mar. 1, MedImmune forecast 2004 earnings per share of 50 cents to 60 cents and said it didn't expect Flumist to be a meaningful contributor to revenue growth before 2007.

Prudential downgraded General Mills (GIS) to neutral from overweight. The firm sees limited upside for the cereal maker given fundamental issues.

Macrovision (MVSN) posted fourth quarter earnings per share (pro forma) of 24 cents vs. 19 cents on a 32% revenue rise. Macrovision sees first quarter earnings per share of 13 cents to 14 cents on revenue of $31 million to $32 million, and 2004 earnings per share of 78 cents to 80 cents on revenue of $145 million to $150 million. Thomas Weisel cut its earnings per share estimates.

KB Home (KBH) posted 23% higher preliminary first quarter total net orders.

Walgreen CO (WAG) posted 12% higher February comparable-store sales and 16% higher total sales. It notes that total February sales benefited from one extra day due to the leap year.

Schwab SoundView upgraded Micron Technology (MU) to outperform from neutral.

BJ's Wholesale (BJ) posted fourth quarter earnings per share of 70 cents (including items) vs. 70 cents despite 7.5% higher comparable-club sales (including gasoline sales of about 1%) and a 13% sales rise. It sees fiscal 2005 earnings per share of $1.58 to $1.66. BJ's posted 7.9% higher February comparable-club sales.

PetSmart (PETM) posted fourth quarter earnings per share of 39 cents vs. 17 cents (including a a 17-cent charge) on 7.7% higher comparable-store sales. The company forecast first quarter earnings per share of 21 cents on 7% higher comparable-store sales, and $1.14 to $1.15 fiscal 2005 EPS on 7% higher comparable-store sales.

Electronic Data Systems (EDS) says the SEC has requested additional information in 2004 relating to recent developments regarding the company's Navy contract.

Qualcomm (QCOM) raised its quarterly dividend 43% to 10 cents.

Hovnanian (HOV) posted first quarter earnings per share of $1.74 vs. $1.35 on a 24% revenue rise. The company raised its $9.00 fiscal 2004 earnings per share guidance to $9.50.


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