Markets & Finance

Smurfit-Stone Skids on a Warning


Smurfit-Stone (SSCC) sees a 22 cents to 25 cents fourth-quarter loss. The paper and packaging company cited lower selling prices, and higher costs for energy, fiber, and employee benefits. Morgan Stanley cut its estimates. S&P reiterates buy.

The Wall Street Journal says International Flavors/Fragrances (IFF) faces the threat of additional liability from civil suits related to plant worker lung injuries caused by the company's butter-flavoring mixture. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Magal Security (MAGS) is seen higher following Israel's assassination of Hamas founder and spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin.

US Oncology (USON) says a private investment group, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe IX, L.P., agreed to acquire a portion of US Oncology it doesn't already own for $1.14 million. The terms are $15.05 cash per share of US Oncology, a company that provides cancer care services.

Telecommunications company Global Crossing (GLBC) says Carlos Slim and his family have accumulated a 9.1% share of the company's common equity (5% of the compnay's total equity). Global Crossing will reportedly pay $325 million to settle a class action shareholder lawsuit.

Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) says it may cut spending by as much as half next year due to slower sales growth. The drop also is seen tied to the contested presidential election in Taiwan.

Walgreen (WAG) posted 42 cents, vs. 36 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 12% same-store sales rise and a 16% total sales rise. The discount retailer says results were aided by strong prescription-drug sales. S&P reiterates buy.

Lucent Technologies (LU) will supply infrastructure technology to Verizon Wireless for its BroadbandAccess service for three years. Lucent notes Verizon Wireless will invest $525 million or more in Lucent's technology in the first two years of the pact. S&P keeps hold on Lucent. Also, Nortel Networks (NT) agreed to provide Verizon with wireless infrastructure technology. Verizon is expected to spend $167 million on Nortel's wireless infrastructure technology through 2005.

Recent increase in fuel prices are taking a heavy toll on the still-recovering airline industry, including American Airlines parent AMR Corp. (AMR

, but the isn't nearly as great as it might have been a few years ago, according to WSJ.com.

Boston Scientific (BSX) says preliminary net sales for March 8 through March 19 for its Taxus Express(2) paclitaxel-eluting coronary stent were about $42 million, vs. its forecast for $52 million to $75 million for all of March. Boston Scientific estimates the current adoption rate in U.S. for its stents at 65%.

CIBC World upgraded business software maker Cognos (COGN) to sector outperform from sector perform, citing valuation and improved timing issues.

Flag Financial (FLAG) set a 10% stock buyback.

Siga Technologies (SIGA) announced a successful smallpox vaccine trial using its proprietary live vector vaccine delivery system.

Marathon Oil (MRO) plans to offer 30 million shares. Marathon will use the proceeds to help retire debt it expects to assume in connection with its recently announced deal to acquire Ashland's (ASH) stake in Marathon Ashland Petroleum, or to retire debt.

Bone Care (BCII) will offer 4 million shares, and founder and board member Richard Mazess will sell 500,000 shares.

JP Morgan reportedly upgraded insurer MetLife (MET) to overweight from neutral.

JP Morgan reportedly downgraded Prudential Financial (PRU) to neutral from overweight.

Genentech (DNA) and Xoma (XOMA) say preliminary results of a randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II study with Raptivatm in patients with psoriatic arthritis shows it didn't reach the statistically significant 12-week goal.

Medtronic (MDT) says Aetna (AET) recognized the medical importance of using Medtronic's Infuse Bone Graft together with the LT-CAGE Lumbar Tapered Fusion Device.


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