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Stocks to Watch: BP, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, Merck, Verizon

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Walking a thin line...

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Stocks to watch for Tuesday, October 31

  • Automatic Data Processing (ADP) said its employer services unit has signed a definitive agreement to buy Taxware LP from First Data for about $125 million in cash. Taxware focuses on global commercial tax compliance systems.
  • Alpharma (ALO) reported third-quarter net earnings of $17 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with $17.8 million, or 34 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The company reaffirmed its previous 2006 outlook of per-share earnings from continuing operations of $1.25 to $1.35.
  • BP's decision to defer overhauls and cut staff may have contributed to a deadly explosion at a Texas refinery last year that killed 15, investigators said.
  • Carrier Access (CACS) said its third-quarter net loss widened to $5.45 million, or 16 cents a share, from $837,000, or 2 cents a share, in the same period last year, as sales fell and expenses rose. Excluding items, the per-share loss was 13 cents.
  • Chemtura (CEM) said it now expects its third-quarter and second-half earnings will be "substantially below" prior expectations despite aggressive actions by the company to reshape its portfolio and strengthen businesses. The company said the revised outlook was also due to the longer-than-expected lag between volume recapture and margin recovery, among other factors.
  • Choice Hotels (CHH) said its third-quarter profit jumped 43% to $46.4 million, or 69 cents a share, up from $32.4 million, or 48 cents a year ago. On an adjusted basis, Choice said it would have earned 50 cents a share, up from 43 cents.
  • Eastman Kodak (EK) is expected to post third-quarter earnings of $0.19.
  • EOG Resources (EOG) said third-quarter net earnings fell to $299.1 million from $343.8 million in the same period last year as expenses rose. The company posted net income available to shareholders of $297.3 million, or $1.21 a share, compared with $341.9 million, or $1.40 a share, last year.
  • Ford (F) plans to cut North American output by up to 12% in the first half of 2007. Meanwhile, Dura became the latest auto-parts supplier to file for Chapter 11.
  • General Cable (BGC) reported third-quarter net earnings of $37.1 million, or 71 cents a share, compared with $4.2 million, or 7 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The company posted revenue of $948.4 million vs. $600.5 million.
  • Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) said it would waive all remaining conditions involved with its $4.5 billion acquisition of Mercury Interactive.
  • Hilton Hotels (HLT) is expected to report third-quarter per-share earnings of $0.28.
  • Intuit (INTU) said the Securities and Exchange Commission has finished its investigation on the company's stock option granting practices. The agency will not recommend any enforcement action, the company added.
  • Navarre (NAVR) reported fiscal second-quarter net earnings of $1.61 million, or 4 cents a share. In the same quarter last year, the company posted a net loss of $75,000, or breakeven a share. Excluding items, the Navarre reported a profit of $3.8 million, or 11 cents a share.
  • Loews (LTR) is expected to post third-quarter earnings of $0.85.
  • McKesson (MCK) is expected to post second-quarter earnings of $0.58.
  • Merck (MRK) has agreed to pay $13 a share in cash, or $1.1 bln, to buy Sirna Therapeutics.
  • MetLife (MET) said third-quarter net income came in at $1.03 billion, up 34% from a year earlier, when the giant life insurance and annuity company made $773 million. Net income available to common shareholders was $1.29 a share vs. 97 cents a share a year earlier, the company reported.
  • NovAtel (NGPS) reported third-quarter net income of C$5.6 million ($5 million) or 63 Canadian cents a share, compared with C$3.2 million or 36 Canadian cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Revenue rose to C$19 million from C$14.3 million.
  • Principal Financial Group (PFG) said third-quarter net income came in at $259.2 million, up 18% from a year earlier when the 401K specialist made $219.4 million. Net income available to common shareholders was $251 million, or 92 cents a share, compared to $210 million, or 74 cents a share, for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2005.
  • Rackable (RACK) swung to a quarterly loss from a year ago, hurt by charges, as sales rose 40% amid demand for corporate server and technology storage products. Rackable reported a third-quarter net loss of $389,000, or 1 cent a share, due to stock-based compensation expenses and other charges related to its acquisition of Terrascale Technologies.
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) reported positive data from a Phase III clinical program to test the investigational drug Interleukin-1 Trap among patients with a rare chronic disease. The company plans to file a biologics license application with the Food and Drug Administration in the second quarter of 2007.
  • Rent-A-Center (RCII) reported third-quarter net earnings of $25.2 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with $11.3 million, or 15 cents a share, in the same period last year. Excluding restructuring expenses, as well as other items, per-share earnings were 51 cents vs. 35 cents last year.
  • RenaissanceRe Holdings (RNR) said third-quarter net income came in at $259.8 million. Last year, the reinsurer reported a quarterly net loss of $278.5 million. Net income available to common shareholders was $251.1 million, or $3.48 a share, compared to a net loss attributable to common shareholders of $287.3 million, or $4.07 a share.
  • Retalix (RTLX) said it now expects 2006 net income to range from a loss of $1 million to a profit of $2 million. Pro forma income for the year is now projected to range from $7 million to $10 million and revenue is expected to be between $201 million and $205 million.
  • Sony (SNE) said the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating its electronics unit as part of an industrywide probe into sales of a particular type of memory chip.
  • Symbol Technologies (SBL) reported a third-quarter profit of $23.3 million, or 9 cents a share, up from $16.7 million, or 7 cents a share in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose to $458.2 million from $441.5 million in the year-ago quarter. Excluding charges and one-time items, Symbol would have earned $30.5 million, or 12 cents a share.
  • Verizon's (VZ) net rose 2.8% on a strong wireless business, but investors focused on weakness in its traditional wireline operations.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.15%, Nikkei +0.29%, Sensex -0.48%, Taiwan +0.37%, Jakarta +0.15% and Shanghai +1.57%.
  • A check of the European bourses finds the CAC -0.05%, DAX +0.32%, FTSE +0.13%, ATX +0.35% and Swiss Mkt -0.61%.
  • Crude oil is trading -0.36 to 58.00 while gold is -2.4 to 605.0. For their part, stateside futes are hovering around fair value.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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