Markets & Finance

Movers: Oracle, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Williams-Sonoma, Google


Thursday's stocks in the news

From Standard & Poor's Equity ResearchOracle (ORCL) posts $0.26, vs. $0.20 a year ago, third quarter GAAP EPS on 21% revenue rise. Says total GAAP software revenues were up 21% to $4.2 billion with GAAP new software license revenues up 16% to $1.6 billion. It posts $0.30, vs. $0.25, non-GAAP EPS. Revenue was below Street estimates. It reportedly sees fourth quarter GAAP EPS of $0.37-$0.38. S&P says third quarter revenue fell short of expectations, cuts target price, maintains strong buy. Bear Stearns cuts estimates, maintains outperform.

Oppenheimer cuts estimates for Merrill Lynch (MER) and UBS (UBS); sees $6 billion in the first quarter write-downs at Merrill and $11 billion for UBS.

ComScore reportedly says that Google's (GOOG) February paid clicks fell 3% from January. Lehman cuts EPS estimates and target to 580.

Williams-Sonoma (WSM) posts $1.15, vs. $1.06 a year ago, fourth quarter EPS on flat same-store sales, 3.4% rise in total revenues on an adjusted 14-week to 14-week basis. It sees breakeven to $0.03 first quarter EPS, $1.42-$1.56 fiscal year 2009 EPS vs. $1.76 in fiscal year 2008, down 11%-19%. Raises $0.115 per share quarterly dividend by 4.3% to $0.12.

Sybase (SY) says, based on preliminary financial results, it expects to exceed its first quarter guidance, which called for revenue of $240-$250 million, non-GAAP EPS of $0.30-$0.35, GAAP EPS of $0.21-$0.26. In addition, believes SY tracking to its prior full-year 2008 guidance, excluding the impact of the modified Dutch auction tender offer.

Banco Santander agrees to acquire General Electric's (GE) Money and Commercial Finance businesses in Germany, Finland and Austria, and its card and auto businesses in UK, while GE Commercial Finance will acquire Interbanca, the Italian commercial bank assigned to Santander as part of distribution of assets following acquisition, together with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Fortis, of ABN Amro (ABN). The deals are valued at about €1 billion. Separately, American Express (AXP) agrees to buy GE's Corporate Payment Services for $1.1 billion in cash.

Solarfun Power Holdings (SOLF) posts $1.38, vs. $0.88 a year ago, fourth quarter EPADS on sharply higher revenues. Believes shipments for the first quarter 2008 will continue to improve. Says it has sales contracts totaling over 160 MW, a level that is over double last year's 78.4MW.

DSW (DSW) posts $0.02, vs. $0.37 a year ago, fourth quarter EPS on 1.7% lower same-store sales, 2.0% higher total sales. Expects first half fiscal year 2009 same-store sales to be negative, EPS significantly below $0.68 reported for the first half of last fiscal year. Given current economic uncertainty, at this time DSW will not provide guidance for fiscal year 2009.

ConAgra Foods (CAG) inks deal to sell its commodity trading and merchandising ops conducted by ConAgra Trade Group to the Ospraie Special Opportunities fund and other investors for approximately $2.1 billion, subject to certain adjustments. CAG posts $0.63 vs. $0.37 third quarter EPS from continuing operations on 21% sales rise.

Clear Channel Communications (CCU) says temporary restraining order granted in its favor last night by a Texas judge, finds in favor of CCU's claim that irreparable harm would result if banks were not immediately ordered to stop interfering with its buyout deal.

CKE Restaurants (CKR) posts breakeven fourth quarter EPS from continuing operations, vs. $0.17 EPS, on 3.2% lower consolidated sales, higher effective tax rate, expenses related to interest rate swap agreements. Posts 1.4% higher same-store sales at Carl's Jr., 0.4% higher comps at Hardee's co.-operated restaurants. For 4-week period ended Mar. 24, 2008, estimates blended same-store sales will increase about 2%. Says sales at both brands were hurt by about 1% due to the Easter holiday shift into period two this year vs. period 3 last year.

MF Global Ltd. (MF) says it has modified an exclusive clearing agreement with Man Investments, a subsidiary of its former parent and largest shareholder, Man Group plc. While Man Group remains committed, under the terms of the original agreement, to clear 90% of the listed futures and options transactions of certain managed funds through MF Global, the new arrangement will ultimately remove the need for MF Global to allocate up to $800 million of its existing liquidity.

Paychex (PAYX) posts in-line $0.39, vs. $0.33 a year ago, third quarter EPS on 10% revenue rise. Revises fiscal year 2008 guidance to 9%-11% total revenue growth, 11%-13% growth in net income.

CNOOC Ltd. (CEO) posts 2007 total revenue of RMB 90.72 billion, net income of RMB 31.26 billion (up 1.1% year-over-year), EPS of RMB 0.72.


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