Markets & Finance

3M Jumps on Higher Outlook


3M (MMM) raised the 80 cents to 82 cents first-quarter earnings per share guidance to 86 cents to 88 cents, and expects sales volume growth to be toward the higher end of a previously stated range of 5% to 8%; 3M, which makes Scotch brand tape, Post-it Notes, and touch computer screens, now forecasts $3.53 to $3.62 2004 earnings per share. Citigroup upgraded. S&P keeps hold.

Lehman Brothers (LEH) posted $2.21, vs. $1.15 first-quarter earnings per share on 84% higher net revenue. S&P reiterates buy.

J Jill (JILL) raised its first-quarter earnings per share guidance to 2 cents to 4 cents on sales of $97 million to $99 million, citing "extremely" positive customer reaction to its regular-price spring assortment. J Jill now sees 49 cents to 54 cents 2004 earnings per share. Banc of America upgraded the stock to buy.

Community First Bankshares (CFBX) agreed to be acquired by BancWest Corp. for $32.25 per share, in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. Community First shares jumped on the news.

Isle of Capri (ISLE) says it has been selected by the Illinois Gaming Board as a successful bidder for the 10th Illinois gaming license. Isle says it was selected by the gaming board after bidding $518 million at a bankruptcy auction held last week. Jefferies upgraded to buy.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) confirmed that it's considering various alternatives designed to distribute more of its wealth to shareholders. One such alternative being considered is a "significant" one-time dividend distribution to all shareholders. CS First Boston upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform. S&P maintains hold.

Swift Transportation (SWFT) sees first-quarter earnings per share "significantly" below 19 cents. It anticipates falling "significantly" below its goal to reduce operating ratio by 3% this year due to bad weather, early retirement charges, the lack of driver availability, and higher fuel costs. Merrill Lynch cut the earnings estimates.

Tenet Healthcare (THC) posted a $2.05 fourth-quarter loss, vs. a 6 cents loss on 8.9% lower net operating revenue, and $1.12 billion in impairment and restructuring charges. Tenet expects to have "significant" negative cash flows of roughly $500 million to $600 million in 2004, excluding legal settlements.

New York Times (NYT) says given results to date, total revenues for the first quarter are likely to be roughly on par with the same period last year; as a result, the publishing company expects 33 cents to 36 cents earnings per share. New York Times reiterated its low-to mid-single 2004 earnings per share growth rate guidance.

Countrywide Financial (CFC) set a 3-for-2 stock split.

Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) named Richard W. Roedel as non-executive chairman, following Ryan Brant's decision to resign as chairman. Banc of America upgraded the stock to buy from neutral.

Vaxgen (VXGN) filed form 12b-25 with the SEC indicating it will require up to 15 additional calendar days from Mar. 15 to file its Form 10-K for 2003.

Metris (MXT) posted 39 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, vs. an 88 cents loss. Metris was also was awarded $1.7 billion in financing. Bear Stearns upgraded to peer perform from underperform.

Genzyme (GENZ) revised fourth-quarter 2003 earnings per share (GAAP basis) to 25 cents, and revised total sales to $476.1 million to reflect last week's judicial decision in case pertaining to its U.K. unit.

United Technologies (UTX) confirmed that representatives of the European Commission recently conducted unannounced inspections at offices of its Otis subsidiaries in Brussels, Luxembourg, and Berlin.

SafeCo (SAFC) inked a deal to sell its life and investments operations to a group of investors led by White Mountains Insurance (WTM) and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) for $1.35 billion. Separately, SafeCo inked a deal to sell its Talbot Financial Corp. insurance brokerage operations for $90 million. S&P keeps hold.

Monster Worldwide (MNST) acquired Military Advantage for $39.5 million in cash.

Pacific Growth cut estimates for Foundry Networks (FDRY), citing the company's back-end loaded quarter. Separately, Foundry files a lawsuit against Lucent (LU) alleging that some of Lucent's products infringe upon one of Foundry's patents.

Om Group (OMG) sees a restatement of 1999-03 financials due to an independent investigation being completed by an audit committee. Om expects a negative effect on 1999-01 earnings per share, and a positive effect on 2002-03 earnings per share. The company also delayed the filing of its 2003 10-K.


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