Markets & Finance

Movers: E*Trade, Sprint, Sears, WellCare


Plus more stocks making headlines on Thursday

From Standard & Poor's Equity ResearchETRADE FINANCIAL CORP. (ETFC)

Down 0.46 to 4.82

S&P Ratings announced that its B rating on EFTC and its BB- rating on E*TRADE Bank will remain on CreditWatch with negative implications, where they were placed on Nov. 13, 2007. Ratings said EFTC's transaction with Citadel Investment Group does not provide a full resolution for long-term stability to capital, liquidity, and franchise health. Earlier co. said it was to receive a $2.5B cash infusion from affiliates of Citadel; and that Mitchell Caplan stepped down as CEO, replaced by R. Jarrett Lilien as acting CEO. S&P Equity also reiterated hold.

SPRINT NEXTEL CORP. (S)

Up 0.44 to 15.20

Sprint Nextel rejected an offer by South Korea's SK Telecom and private equity firm Providence Equity Partners to invest $5 billion in the company and install former chairman Tim Donahue as CEO: WSJ.

SEARS HOLDINGS CORP. (SHLD)

Down 12.25 to 104.09

Posted one cent vs. $1.27 (incl. 42 cents in gains) third quarter EPS on 4.2% drop in Sears Domestic's same-store sales, 5.0% drop in Kmart's same-store sales, 3.3% total revenue drop. Notes $223M decline in gross margin, reflecting both sales declines, as well as overall decline in its gross margin rate for third quarter. S&P downgrades to sell from hold. Goldman cuts estimates, target; keeps neutral.

WELLCARE HEALTH PLANS, INC. (WCG)

Up 3.53 to 40.10

In 8-K filing, co. says it will provide Medicare Advantage preferred provider services in Georgia commencing Jan. 1, 2008 for a one-year period. Notes it also renewed its contract to provide stand-alone prescription drug plans under Medicare Part D on a nationwide basis. The renewal is for a period of one year ending on Dec. 31, 2008. S&P maintains hold.

ATWOOD OCEANICS, INC. (ATW)

Up 9.11 to 84.01

Posted $1.69 vs. 74 cents Q4 EPS on 49% revenue rise. S&P raises fiscal 08 EPS estimate, target price.

DEL MONTE FOODS CO. (DLM)

Down 0.72 to 9.00

Posted 13 cents vs. 12 cents second quarter EPS from cont. ops on 5.0% revenue rise. Sees 22 cents-$0.26 third quarter EPS from cont. ops. Cuts fiscal 08 EPS from cont. ops guidance to 64 cents-$0.68 from 70 cents-$0.74. Cites input costs (particularly fish, fats and oils, transportation, and resin-based packaging costs) which have continued to escalate to greater-than-anticipated levels.

VALUECLICK, INC. (VCLK)

Up 1.80 to 23.99

S&P believes stock up on an FTC announcement yesterday saying that the agency settled claims involving an online advertising firm that engaged in misleading lead-generation practices. Notes VCLK's lead-generation business has been adversely affected by a similar investigation. The company reiterates hold. Piper Jaffray reiterates buy.

CONN'S, INC. (CONN)

Down 1.79 to 17.74

Posted 17 cents vs. 30 cents third quarter EPS as non-cash decrease in the fair value of co.'s interests in securitized assets offset 6.8% same-store sales rise, 9% total revenue rise. Cuts fiscal 08 EPS guidance to $1.64-$1.74. Morgan Keegan maintains market perform.

PIPER JAFFRAY COMPANIES (PJC)

Down 4.42 to 45.31

Wachovia downgrades to market perform from outperform. the company unavailable.

DOLLAR TREE STORES, INC. (DLTR)

Up 1.59 to 28.47

Raymond James upgrades to strong buy from outperform, Friedman Billings upgrades outperform from market perform. Yesterday co. posted 38 cents vs. on 1.9% higher same-stores sales, 9.6% higher total sales.

ZOLTEK COMPANIES, INC. (ZOLT)

Up 7.19 to 44.89

Posted 6 cents third quarter loss vs. 89 cents loss on 83% sales rise. The company says its objective is to achieve $500M in sales in fiscal 10, while continuing to improve gross margins.

FRED'S, INC. (FRED)

Up 1.08 to 10.48

Posted 12 cents vs. 15 cents third quarter EPS as higher costs offset 1.1% higher same-store sales, 3% higher total sales. Also says it has retained Merrill Lynch & the company to review a range of strategic and financial alternatives; has temporarily suspended its stock repurchase program. S&P maintains hold.

MEN'S WEARHOUSE, INC. (THE) (MW)

Down 6.72 to 34.33

Posted in-line 69 cents vs. 58 cents third quarter EPS as improved gross margin offset 2.1% lower U.S. same-store sales. Total sales rose 19%. Sees Q4 EPS of 43 cents-$0.48 on negative low single digit U.S. comps. Sees fiscal 08 EPS of $2.87-$2.92, vs. Street fiscal 08 view of $2.98. S&P cuts estimates, target; keeps hold. Caris reportedly downgrades to average.

AEROPOSTALE, INC. (ARO)

Down 3.53 to 24.48

Posted 48 cents vs. 41 cents third quarter EPS on 1.9% higher same-store sales, 7% higher total sales. Sees Q4 EPS of 82 cents-$0.84, Nov. comps up in mid-single-digit range. But shares seen lower on disappointment that ARO did not beat Street estimates by even wider margin. S&P maintains hold. ST Robinson Humphrey downgrades to neutral from buy.

REGENERON PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. (REGN)

Up 3.96 to 21.11

Enters into a global, strategic collaboration agreement with SANOFI-AVENTIS to discover, develop, and commercialize fully-human therapeutic antibodies utilizing REGN's proprietary VelociSuite of technologies (incl. VelocImmune). SNY will also increase its ownership of REGN from apx. 4% to apx. 19% after purchase of 12M newly issued shares REGN shares at $26 per share. S&P ups target, keeps buy.

NALCO HOLDING CO. (NLC)

Up 0.03 to 22.88

Jefferies upgrades to buy from hold. the company no news, notes analyst comments.

BIDZ.COM, INC. (BIDZ)

Up 1.62 to 11.72

The company says it has directed legal counsel to investigate possible wrongdoing by a Citron Research editor, who, BIDZ says, published a derogatory profile on BIDZ on Citron's website, and others in connection with recent trading in BIDZ's securities.

ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS INC. (RCI)

Down 4.63 to 41.50

Among Canadian wireless services providers seen lower after the Canadian government said it will set aside 40 Mhz of wireless spectrum for new entrants in an upcoming wireless-spectrum auction. CIBC World downgrades RCI to sector perform from sector outperform. Bear Stearns downgrades RCI to peer perform from outperform.

TIVO INC. (TIVO)

Up 1.51 to 7.49

Posted 8 cents third quarter loss vs. 12 cents loss on 14% revenue rise. Expects Q4 net loss of $9M-$12M on service and technology revenue of $58M-$60M. S&P maintains hold. JP Morgan upgrades to overweight from underweight.

SIGMA DESIGNS, INC. (SIGM)

Up 6.29 to 65.43

Posted 79 cents vs. 19 cents third quarter non-GAAP EPS on sharp revenue rise. Expects 10%-15% sequential revenue rise in Q4. RBC Capital upgrades to outperform from sector perform.


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