Markets & Finance

UK Lifts Chiron License Suspension


Chiron Corp. (CHIR) gains after it receives a notice that UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency lifted its license suspension for Chiron's Liverpool plant, which makes Fluvirin influenza virus vaccine. S&P upgrades to hold from sell.

American International Group (AIG) slips after the SEC and NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer are considering expanding their probes to look into dealings by U.S. insurers with offshore reinsurers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Verizon (VZ) and MCI (MCIP) agreed that MCI may engage in further merger talks with Qwest Communication (Q) through Mar. 17.

On mid-quarter conference call, Novellus Systems (NVLS) says it sees 20 cents to 22 cents first-quarter earnings per share on revenue of $340 million. It says gross margins are to be hurt by a geographic mix. S&P reiterates strong buy.

Thomas Weisel downgrades Ingram Micro (IM) to peer perform from outperform.

Rambus Inc. (RMBS) says the Virginia judge in the patent infringement case against Infineon (IFX) has again dismissed Rambus's patent infringement claims.

Walgreen (WAG) posted 9.3% higher February same-store sales and 14% higher total sales.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) reports it flew 4 billion revenue passenger miles (RPMs) in February 2005. This is a 9.2% increase from a year ago.

Costco Wholesale (COST) posted 62 cents, vs. 48 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 7% same-store sales rise and a 9.6% total revenue rise.

K2 Inc. (KTO) posted 18 cents, vs. 7 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 75% sales rise (an 8.8% sales rise, excluding acquisitions). The company sees 2005 earnings per share (GAAP) of 75 cents to 79 cents and 87 cents to 91 cents (adjusted) and sets a $50 million stock buyback. ST Robinson Humphrey reportedly cuts to neutral.

Verity Inc. (VRTY) expects 5 cents to 6 cents third-quarter earnings per share (non-GAAP) on total revenue of $33.5 million to $34.2 million. The company says a number of opportunities at the end of the quarter did not close as the company anticipated. S&P cuts estimates, target, but keeps a buy rating.

American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS) posted preliminary $1.32, vs. 49 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 29% same-store sales rise, and 37% total sales rise. The company posted 32% higher February same-store sales and 42% higher total sales. It raises 43 cents to 45 cents first-quarter earnings per share forecast to 52 cents to 54 cents.

Tibco Software (TIBX) sees 3 cents to 4 cents first-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on revenue of $100 million to $102 million and license revenue of $47 million to $49 million. The company cites lack of execution in certain geographic areas, particularly in Europe, and delay of several transactions.

Lear Corp. (LEA) revised first-quarter earnings per share guidance from 50 cents to 70 cents to about breakeven, primarily reflecting additional industry production cuts, largely in North America. The company also says it is experiencing continuing cost pressures from its supply base.

Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) posted 54 cents, vs. 43 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 5.1% higher company same-store sales and 16% higher total sales. The company posted 11% higher February company SSS and 23% higher total sales. The company is omfortable with 23 cents first-quarter analyst consensus earnings per share estimate.

Visx Inc. (EYE) receives an FDA approval to market and sell Iris Registration technology, the first fully automated method of aligning and registering wavefront corrections for CustomVue treatment.

Foot Locker (FL) posted 57 cents, vs. 47 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations on 2.5% higher same-store sales and 15% higher total sales. The company sees fiscal 2006 earnings per share growth of 10% to 20% and same-store sales growth in the low-to-mid single digit range.

Pacific Growth upgrades Quiksilver (ZQK) to equal-weight from underweight. The company is to release first-quarter results on Mar. 10.

Papa John's (PZZA) posted 55 cents, vs. 46 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 3.6% revenue rise. The company reaffirms $2.27 to $2.35 2005 earnings per share guidance, excluding any potential impact from consolidation of its franchisee-owned cheese purchasing arm BIBP Commodities (BIBP). S&P reiterates hold.

Iron Mountain (IRM) posted 23 cents, vs. 22 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 17% revenue rise. The company sees $485 million to $495 million first-quarter revenue and raises $1.950 billion to $2.020 billion 2005 revenue forecast to $1.970 billion to $2.030 billion.

AutoZone Inc. (AZO) posted $1.48, vs. $1.04 second-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on flat same-store sales and a 3.9% total sales rise.


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