Markets & Finance

GE to Sell Insurance Solutions to Swiss Re


General Motors (GM) chairman Rick Wagoner plans to announce as early as next week a series of plant closures that are expected to eliminate at least 25,000 hourly jobs over the next three years. A restructuring was promised by year-end, according to the Detroit News.

General Electric (GE) is to sell most of its Insurance Solutions business to Swiss Re for $8.5 billion in securities, cash, and the assumption of debt. On a continuing basis, it sees $1.72 2005 earnings per share and $1.92 to $2.02 in 2006. It raised its dividend 14% and upped a stock buyback to $25 billion.

Scientific-Atlanta (SFA) agreed to be acquired by Cisco Systems (CSCO) for $6.9 billion, or $43 per share.

Alltel (AT) agreed to acquire Midwest Wireless for $1.075 billion in cash.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) posted 51 cents vs. 41 cents fourth quarter earnings per share (non-GAAP) on a 7% revenue rise. It sees 46 cents to 48 cents first quarter non-GAAP earnings per share, or 42 cents to 44 cents including stock-based compensation expense.

Gap (GPS) posted 24 cents vs. 28 cents third quarter earnings per share on 7% lower same-store sales and 2.5% lower total sales. It cited deteriorating traffic trends continuing beyond anticipated levels. It also cut its $1.30 to $1.34 fiscal year 2006 (ending January) earnings per share estimate to $1.12 to $1.17.

Marvell Technology Group (MRVL) posted 29 cents vs. 15 cents third quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 34% revenue rise. It cited strong internal growth aided by an acquisition.

H & R Block (HRB) posted 22 cents second quarter loss vs. 15 cents loss despite a 14% revenue rise. It says good performance in Tax Services, RSM McGladrey, and Financial Advisors units were offset by weak mortgage earnings. It cut its $2.12 to $2.32 fiscal year 2006 earnings per share guidance to $1.90 to $2.15.

Walt Disney (DIS) posted 23 cents vs. 25 cents fourth quarter earnings per share (excluding stock option expense) despite a 2.5% total revenue rise. It says studio entertainment revenue fell 20%, and consumer products were down 16%.

Aeropostale (ARO) posted 47 cents vs. 55 cents third quarter earnings per share on 1.5% lower same-store sales and 18% higher total sales. It sees 55 cents to 61 cents fourth quarter earnings per share. It increases its stock buyback program by $50 million.

Liz Claiborne (LIZ) offered to buy J Jill Group (JILL) for $18 per share in cash, or $366 million according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nordstrom (JWN) posted 39 cents vs. 27 cents third quarter earnings per share on a 5.9% rise in same-store sales and 8% total sales rise. It sees 60 cents to 65 cents fourth quarter earnings per share. It raised $1.80 to $1.90 fiscal year 2006 (ending January) earnings per share estimate to $1.90 to $1.95.

Foot Locker (FL) posted 41 cents vs. 47 cents third quarter earnings per share from continuing operations as increased promotional activity in Europe offset 2.7% higher same-store sales and 3.1% higher total sales. It sees 53 cents to 61 cents fourth quarter earnings per share from continuing operations. It upped its quarterly dividend by 20%.

Gold Kist (GKIS) posted 49 cents fourth quarter earnings per share vs. breakeven despite a 9% sales drop. The current quarter is below Street estimates.

Canadian National Railway (CNI) sees 20% fourth quarter earnings per share growth and set its 2006 objective to generate earnings per share growth of 10% to 15%, or free cash flow of $1 billion.

Books-a-Million (BAMM) posted 5 cents third quarter loss vs. 7 cents loss on slightly higher same-store sales. It sees 59 cents 61 cents fourth quarter earnings per share and raised its fiscal year 2006 earnings per share guidance to 70 cents to 72 cents.

Autodesk (ADSK) posted 38 cents vs. 30 cents third quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 26% revenue rise. It sees $1.32 to $1.34 fiscal year 2006 GAAP earnings per share on $1.511 billion to $1.521 billion revenue and $1.16 to $1.20 fiscal year 2007 GAAP earnings per share.

Under Armour (UARM)said that initial 12.1 million Cl. A shares were offered at $13 per share.

AnnTaylor Stores (ANN) posted 42 cents vs. 19 cents third quarter earnings per share on flat same-store sales and a 12% total sales rise. It reaffirmed $1.17 fiscal year 2006 earnings per share guidance.

Patterson (PDCO) cut its 35 cents to 27 cents second quarter eanings per share forecast to 32 cents. It cited weaker-than-forecast sales growth of basic dental equipment and below-plan performance at Patterson Medical. It cut its $1.54 to $1.58 fiscal year 2006 earnings per share view to $1.44 to $1.46.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND) estimated total third quarter revenues under new sell-through revenue recognition methodology at $44.8 million. It preliminarily posted 11 cents second quarter loss, and 24 cents first quarter loss. The company is to explore alternatives to enhance shareholder value.


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