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Stocks to Watch: Bank of America, Citigroup, Harrah's, Pfizer, Tiffany's


Break on through!


Stocks to watch for Wednesday, November 29

  • Abraxis BioScience (ABBI) said the Food and Drug Administration has granted approval of its abbreviated new drug application for its combination drug ampicillin and sulbactam for injection, 15g. The drug is the generic equivalent of Pfizer Inc.'s Unasyn, and indicated to treat several skin and skin structure, intra-abdominal and gynecological infections.
  • Ameriprise Financial (AMP) said its board has amended the company's by-laws to provide for majority voting for directors in uncontested elections. The new system will begin with the next election, scheduled for April.
  • Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) said it plans to publicly offer 8 million shares, and the underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 1.2 million shares to cover over-allotments.
  • Bank of America (BAC) overtook Citigroup as the world's largest bank by stock-market value, with a market cap of $243.71 billion.
  • Chico's FAS (CHS) said a slump in same-store sales, coupled with aggressive expansion and merchandising "missteps," dragged down third-quarter profit. The retailer said quarterly income was $42 million, or 24 cents a share, compared with $53 million, or 29 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.
  • Citigroup (C) is planning to tear down barriers between its Smith Barney and Citibank units, making it the latest financial-services firm that wants to be both broker and banker to more of its customers.
  • Comcast (CMCSK) said it has named Michael Angelakis to serve as the new co-chief financial officer. Angelakis, a managing director of a private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, is expected to join Comcast at the end of the first quarter of 2007 as co-CFO, and to become CFO in 2008.
  • Communications-equipment maker 3Com (COMS) said it has agreed to buy Huawei Technologies' 49% stake in the joint venture Huawei-3Com Ltd. for $882 million.
  • Cott (COT) said Chief Financial Officer Clyde Preslar plans to leave the company to pursue other interests, effective Friday. The beverage company said it has named Tina Dell'Aquila, controller, as interim CFO.
  • Dress Barn (DBRN) said first-quarter net earnings rose to $27.4 million, or 40 cents a share, from $20.4 million, or 32 cents a share, in the same period last year, on the back of strong sales.
  • Duke Energy (DUK) said its board has approved an employee incentive target for 2007 of $1.15 a share.
  • Dynavax Technologies (DVAX) said it achieved statistically significant results from the primary endpoint analysis of a Phase III trial comparing Heplisav, its hepatitis B virus vaccine, to GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Engerix-B vaccine.
  • Gottschalks (GOT) said its third-quarter net loss widened to $2.75 million, or 20 cents a share, from $1.63 million, or 12 cents a share, in the same period last year, as revenue fell and costs and expenses rose.
  • Penn National is talking to Harrah's (HET) about making a bid for the gambling firm to compete with a $15.5 billion private-equity offer.
  • Linn Energy (LINE) named Mark Ellis as chief operating officer and said it plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Houston from Pittsburgh.
  • Microchip Technology (MCHP) backed its view for third-quarter sales of $255 million and earnings per share of 33 cents.
  • NaviSite (NAVI) said its first-quarter net loss narrowed to $2.64 million, or 9 cents a share, from $3.47 million, or 12 cents a share, in the same period last year, as revenue grew and operating expenses shrunk.
  • NiSource (NI) said Gary Neale, chairman and former president and chief executive, has decided not to stand for reelection to the company's board at its annual meeting in May 2007. Effective Nov. 29, Ian Rolland, a director, will take on the role of chairman.
  • Papa John's International (PZZA) said domestic comparable sales were down 0.3% in November.
  • Pfizer (PFE) plans to cut its domestic sales force by 20%, or over 2,000 people, as part of a broad restructuring under its new CEO.
  • Principal Financial Group (PFG) said its board has authorized buying back up to $250 million of the company's shares. The financial services company added that it has increased by $100 million the amount of its 30-year fixed-rate senior notes offering, bringing the total to $600 million.
  • Restoration Hardware (RSTO) reported a third-quarter net loss of $5.71 million, or 15 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $4.21 million, or 11 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The home accessories retailer posted revenue of $157.1 million vs. $128.4 million.
  • Sigma Designs (SIGM) said third-quarter revenue rose to $25.1 million from $8.5 million during the same period in the prior year. The digital media processor company cited higher chipset sales to manufacturers of IPTV set-top boxes. Also, the board audit committee is reviewing the company's stock-option practices, and the company did not announce income for the quarter.
  • Tiffany's (TIF) net income rose 23% on strong U.S. sales growth, and the company boosted its full-year earnings-per-share outlook.
  • A "strategic review" at Tribune (TRB) has "generated strong interest from a number of parties." The company said advisers have recommended that the review process be extended.
  • VA Software (LNUX) said the first-quarter net loss narrowed, as revenue gained, to $336,000, or a penny share, from a net loss of $1.23 million, or 2 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • Wal-Mart (WMT) unveiled a long-anticipated service allowing customers to download movies, a key step in what has been an uneasy transition for studios and brick-and-mortar retailers.
  • Walt Disney (DIS) said its board has raised the annual cash dividend 14.8% to 31 cents per share. The dividend is payable Jan. 12 to shareholders as of Dec. 15.
  • Wells Fargo (WFC) said its board has amended the company's by-laws to adopt a majority vote standard for uncontested director elections.
  • Wheeling-Pittsburgh (WPSC) said fourth-quarter results will be below expectations due to weaker-than-expected market conditions. The steel company said it sees negative earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
  • Wyndham Worldwide (WYN) said it is planning to offer $500 million of senior unsecured notes due 2016. The hotel and hospitality company said it plans to use the proceeds to repay $350 million of the principal under its existing interim loan facility, and a portion of its revolver.

Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.76%, Sensex +0.11%, Taiwan +0.39%, Shanghai +0.75% and Nikkei +1.39%.
  • A check of the European bourses finds the CAC +0.65%, DAX +0.66%, FTSE +0.44% and Swiss Mkt +0.55%.
  • Crude oil is trading +0.12 to 61.11 while gold is -2.6 to 641.1.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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