Markets & Finance

United Natural Foods Rises


United Natural Foods (UNFI) posted 23 cents, vs. 12 cents (including items) fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 22% sales rise. The grocery chain reaffirmed the 93 cents to 97 cents fiscal 2005 earnings per share (excluding items) and still sees $1.9 billion to $2 billion in revenue. S&P upgraded to accumulate from hold.

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Synder has been acquiring stock in Six Flags (PKS), and he may try to take a controlling stake, according to The Wall Street Journal . S&P maintains avoid.

Banc of America keeps the neutral rating on Red Hat (RHAT), saying earnings will likely be in line, but that a new chief financial officer is needed to lift valuation.

Swiss banking giant UBS says it will acquire Charles Schwab's (SCH) brokerage unit, SoundView Capital Markets, as well as the Capital Markets Division of Schwab for $265 million in cash. The acquisition will be integrated in the equities business of UBS's investment bank.

Albertsons (ABS) posted 34 cents, vs. 44 cents second-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations on slightly lower same-store sales. The grocery chain posted a 13% total sales rise, and reaffirmed the fiscal 2005 earnings per share from continuing operations guidance of $1.40 to $1.50.

Merck (MRK) was hit by a disappointing study of its cholesterol drug Zocor. The study found that large doses of the drug for patients at a high risk of heart attack didn't yield better results than a placebo or a less-aggressive Zocor treatment, according to The Wall Street Journal .

Piper Jaffray downgraded Guidant (GDT) to market perform from outperform.

Bear Stearns downgraded America West (AWA) to underperform from peer perform.

QLT (QLTI) reiterated its confidence in Visudyne's potential in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. QLT also reiterated the 2004 guidance for Visudyne sales of $430 million to $455 million.

Sabre Holdings (TSG) says its Travelocity unit acquired Las Vegas-based All State Tours for $25 million in cash. As part of the purchase, Travelocity acquired the All State Ticketing brand and Web site, www.ShowTickets.com.


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