Markets & Finance

AIG Agrees to Record $1.6 Billion Settlement

The Wall Street Journal reports that American International Group (AIG

) agreed to a record settlement of more than $1.6 billion with the Securities and Exchange Commission and New York officials over alleged accounting improprieties.

Cognizant Tech Solutions(CTSH

) shares gained Thursday after the company posted fourth quarter EPS (GAAP basis) of 39 cents, vs. 21 cents one year earlier, on a 49% revenue rise. The company seees 29 cents first quarter GAAP EPS (including the effect of accounting standard FAS 123R) on at least $275 million in revenue and $1.30 GAAP EPS for all of 2006 (including FAS 123R) on at least $1.26 billion in revenue. S&P reiterates hold.

Gateway (GTW

) announces the resignation of CEO Wayne Inouye; director Rick Snyder, formerly president and COO, will serve as interim CEO. The company expects to complete the search for a permanent CEO by late summer.

Town & Country Trust (TCT

) receives a revised takeover offer of $39.50 per share from Oriole Partnership, which tops competing bids received earlier from Magazine Acquisition and Oriole Partnership.

Delphi Financial Group (DFG

) posts 99 cents vs. 86 cents fourth quarter operating earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations on a 15% revenue rise. It raises its quarterly dividend 11%.

News Corp. (NWS

) posts 21 cents vs. 13 cents second quarter EPS from continuing operations on slightly higher revenue. It sees fiscal year 2006 operating income up 12%. Chairman Murdoch reportedly says the company will consider making a bid for the Spanish language media company Univision (UVN


Akamai (AKAM

) shares moved higher after the company reported 16 cents, vs. 10 cents, fourth quarter EPS (GAAP) on a 44% revenue rise. Jefferies upgraded the shares to buy from hold.

Applebee's (APPB

) posts 27 cents vs. 30 cents fourth quarter EPS despite slightly higher system-wide same-store sales and 11% higher total sales. It reiterates 2006 guidance: a 2% to 3% increase in system-wide comparables and $1.26 to $1.30 EPS, including stock compensation cost.

Aetna (AET

) posts $1.42 vs. 98 cents fourth quarter EPS (including items) on 14% higher total revenue. It raises $5.45 to $5.50 2006 operating EPS guidance to between $5.57 and $5.63 (excluding stock-option expense); it also sees $5.42 to $5.50 2006 EPS (including stock-option expense).

Whole Foods Market (WFMI

) posts lower-than-expected 40 cents vs. 34 cents first quarter EPS on a 22% sales rise. It expects fiscal year 2006 EPS growth to be slightly less than its fiscal year 2006 sales growth guidance of between 18% to 21%.

Electronic Data Systems (EDS

) posts better-than-expected 25 cents vs. 29 cents fourth quarter EPS (pro forma) despite a slight sales rise. The information technology services provider sees 10 cents to 15 cents first quarter EPS (pro forma) and $1.05 to $1.15 in 2006.

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