Markets & Finance

MCI Accepts Verizon Bid


MCI (MCIP) accepted the sweetened takeover bid from Verizon (VZ), which agreed to pay $23.50 per MCI share and protect MCI holders from a decline in Verizon's stock price, according to WSJ.com. S&P maintains hold.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) names NCR CEO Mark Hurd as the new CEO, according to people familiar with the matter, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Hospital operator HCA Inc. (HCA) sees 88 cents to 93 cents first-quarter earnings per share. The company notes increased patient volume, cost controls, improved bad debt trends, and fewer shares outstanding. It plans to divest 10 acute care hospitals. Bear Stearns raised its earnings estimates and price target.

Google (GOOG) agreed to acquire Urchin Software, a San Diego, Calif.-based web analytics company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

American International Group (AIG) says M. R. "Hank" Greenberg is expected to formally retire as chairman on Mar. 30 or Mar. 31. Duties of the chairman will be assumed by Frank Zarb.

Internet infrastructure services company Verisign (VRSN) is seen higher on reports Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers said the company's proposal for operating .net domain is in the lead to win.

Agricultural products company Monsanto (MON) sees $1.37 second-quarter earnings per share (as reported) and $1.38 (on an ongoing basis). The company raises 71 cents to 93 cents 2005 earnings per share (reported) forecast to 85 cents to 97 cents. Cites a better-than-expected seeds and traits business. S&P reiterates strong sell.

RedEnvelope (REDE) sees $21.5 million to $22.0 million fourth-quarter revenue and a $3.0 million to $3.5 million net loss. The company sees $100.7 million to $101.2 million in fiscal 2005 revenue and a $5.1 million to $5.6 million net loss. It notes fourth-quarter gross margin 10 percentage points lower than anticipated, and Valentine's Day business is below forecast.

Navteq Corp. (NVT) files for a $1.3 billion secondary stock offering. Shares of the car-navigation systems maker are being offered by Philips Consumer Electronics B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics B.V.

CBRL Group (CBRL) posted 3.5% higher March same-store sales for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store units. The company sees 54 cents to 56 cents third-quarter earnings per share. It reaffirms guidance for the mid-to-high teens percentage rise in fiscal 2005 earnings per share over restated $2.18 fiscal 2004 operating earnings per share.

Theravance (THRX) says FDA has granted "fast track" designation to telavancin for treatment of Hospital Acquired Pneumonia, complicated skin and skin structure infections.

Eastman Kodak (EK) says the Department of Justice has made a second request for information concerning Eastman Kodak's proposed acquisition of Creo Inc. (CREO).

ValueVision Media (VVTV) posted a 20-cent fourth-quarter loss, vs. a 25-cent loss on a 3% revenue rise. The company projects double-digit sales growth in 2005, but notes its growth rate will be slower in the first half of 2005.

Red Robin Gourmet (RRGB) says an ongoing review of its lease accounting policies will further delay the completion of financial statements and filing of its Annual Report on Form 10-K for 2004.

Saks Inc. (SKS) says internal investigation previously expected to be completed by the end of March is now expected to be completed in April. The investigation relates to alleged certain improper collections, accounting, and disclosure issues.

Murphy Oil (MUR) says its Saphir Marine #1 and Onyx Marine #1 exploration wells drilled in the offshore Republic of Congo failed to encounter significant hydrocarbons.


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