Markets & Finance

Movers: MetLife, IBM, National City, TJX Companies


Stocks in the news Thursday

From Standard & Poor's Equity ResearchThe Wall Street Journal reports that MetLife (MET) recently approached life and property insurer Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) about a merger transaction, citing people familiar with the talks. The talks did not lead anywhere, these people told the newspaper.

IBM (IBM) posts $2.05, vs. $1.68 a year ago, third quarter EPS from continuing operations on 5% revenue rise. Street was looking for $2.01. It continues to expect full-year 2008 EPS of at least $8.75, year-to-year growth of 22%.

The Wall Street Journal reports that National City (NCC) is in talks with a number of banks about a possible sale, citing people familiar with the situation. PNC Financial (PNC) and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) are among the potential bidders, the paper added.

TJX Companies (TJX) sees lower-than-expected $0.55-$0.58 third quarter EPS from continuing operations, primarily reflecting lower-than-expected sales. Says this range is based upon estimated consolidated comp-store sales growth for the quarter of about flat to up 1%. Due to lower guidance, now expects fiscal year 2009 EPS from continuing operations to be in the range of $2.26-$2.31, with comp-store sales growth of about 2%. Posts 1% lower September same-store sales, 3% higher total sales.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) says absent notable improvement in macroeconomic environment and a return of consumer confidence, it expects current trend to persist through the fourth quarter. In that event, ANF says third quarter EPS would be in the range of $0.74-$0.76. Second half results would fall appreciably below its more recent guidance. Additionally, ANF posts 14% lower September same-store sales, 7% lower total sales.

Gap (GPS) posts 11% lower September same-store sales, 6% lower total sales.

M/I Homes (MHO) reports new contracts for third quarter were down 19%, homes delivered were down 29%, its cancellation rate was 32%. Notes sales value of backlog of homes at Sept. 30, 2008 was $212 million, with backlog units of 781 and an average sales price of $272,000.

Men's Wearhouse (MW) cuts $0.36-$0.40 third quarter adjusted EPS view to $0.24-$0.28. It says retail operations in the U.S. have experienced reduced traffic levels from previous expectations, largely a direct reflection of the recent turmoil in the credit markets which appears to be impacting consumer buying patterns and levels. Wedbush Morgan cuts estimates, target; maintains hold.

Quest Software (QSFT) says it authorized modified "Dutch auction" tender offer to repurchase $135-$400 million of its common stock at an expected price of $13.25-$15.50 a share. Based on midpoint of the price range, the planned buyback is 9%-26% of QSFT outstanding shares. Separately, appoints President Doug Garn as CEO and a director, Vinny Smith as executive chairman of board of directors.

Advanced Medical Optics (EYE) lowers 2008 revenue guidance to $1.17B-$1.20B, adjusted EPS to $0.70-$0.80. The company had previously forecasted revenue of $1.22-$1.24 billion and adjusted EPS of $1.00-$1.15.

Cato (CTR) posts 3% lower September same-store sales, 2% lower total sales. Notes sales hurt by hurricanes in the gulf coast states early in the month, still reflect the continuing economic situation. Remains comfortable with previous third quarter earnings guidance of $0.05 loss to breakeven.

Hot Topic (HOTT) posts 1.8% lower September same-store sales, 2.5% higher net sales.

Bebe Stores (BEBE) posts 11% lower first quarter same-store sales, 0.7% lower total sales. Sees $0.09-$0.13 first quarter EPS, vs. earlier forecast of $0.12-$0.16, citing continued weakness in larger macro economic environment.

RPM International (RPM) posts $0.54, vs. $0.53, first quarter EPS on 5.9% revenue rise. Says deterioration in the broader economy, weak domestic market conditions for its consumer segment and raw material cost pressure in both segments has caused co. to be more cautious in our outlook; now sees fiscal year 2009 EPS of $1.75-$1.85 vs. $1.75 (excl. items) for fiscal year 2008.

Brown Shoe (BWS) posts 7.3% lower September same-store sales for its Famous Footwear division. As a result, BWS now sees third quarter sales of $633-$638 million, vs. $646 million in year-ago quarter, EPS of $0.17-$0.20, which includes costs of $0.22 related to relocation of its Madison, WI headquarters to St. Louis and its information technology transformation.

Ruby Tuesday (RT) posts $0.01, vs. $0.21 a year ago, first quarter EPS on 11% and 7.9% lower same-store sales at Company-owned and domestic franchise Ruby Tuesday restaurants, respectively. Total revenue decreased 6.6%. Sees $0.30-$0.35 fiscal year 2009 EPS on same-restaurant sales decline in mid-single digits. Expects restaurant operating margins to be down, reflecting higher labor and other operating costs.

International Rectifier (IRF) reiterates its commitment to realizing significant growth in shareholder value over time - in excess of the highly conditional offer by Vishay Intertechnology. Also reaffirms its first quarter revenue guidance of 7%-9% sequential growth, stated that it expects its results to be on the high end of that range.

Stage Stores (SSI) posts 14% lower September same-store sales (SSS), 10% lower total sales. Says hurricanes Gustav, Ike caused significant disruptions to its biz, as multiple stores closed. With SSS down 11.0% after the first two months of the quarter, taking into consideration recent national economic turbulence, headwinds facing consumers, expects third quarter SSS down high single to low double digits vs. original guidance of down 1% to 3%. Also expects third quarter EPS to significantly miss low end of original guidance of $0.01 loss to $0.05 EPS.

Zumiez (ZUMZ) posts 9% lower September same-store sales, 4.8% higher total sales. Says comps in California, Arizona, Florida and Nevada, which represent about 27% of comparable-store sales, declined in negative mid-teen range. Comparable store sales in Northwest and Rocky Mountain area, which represent about 30% of ZUMZ's comparable-store sales, declined in the negative mid-teen range.

Walgreen (WAG) withdraws its proposal to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Longs Drug Stores (LDG) for $75 per share in cash. The offer was originally proposed on Sept. 12, 2008, and declined by the board of directors of LDG in favor of the proposed acquisition by CVS/Caremarke (CVS) announced on Aug. 12.

Limited Brands (LTD) posts 6% lower September same-store sales, 5.6% total sales decline.

CDI (CDI ) expects 6%-8% lower third quarter revenue, worse than the flat-to slightly down revenue previously expected, due primarily to the effects of the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes, anticipated negative foreign currency impact due to the stronger U.S. dollar, and accelerated weakening in the North American and U.K. employment markets. Remains cautious in its outlook for later quarters.


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