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Stocks to Watch: Eli Lilly, Fannie Mae, Ford, Home Depot, News Corp, Viacom


Proceed with caution...


Stocks to watch for Thursday, December 7

  • Ace (ACE), one of the largest Bermuda-based insurance and reinsurance companies, set a 2007 earnings target that roughly matched analysts' expectations.
  • Brinker International (EAT) said its November sales at restaurants open at least one year fell 2.6%. The Dallas-based restaurant operator said Chili's same-restaurant sales fell 1.2%, while Macaroni Grill comparable-restaurant sales dropped 6.2%.
  • Capstone Turbine (CPST) said it has named Darren Jamison as president and chief executive. Jamison will also be a member of the board, effective Dec. 18.
  • Casella Waste Systems (CWST) reported second-quarter net earnings of $2.39 million, or 6 cents a share, compared with $4.16 million, or 13 cents a share, during the year-ago period.
  • Casey's General Stores (CASY) said second-quarter net income fell, with earnings affected by tighter gasoline margins, to $17.2 million, or 34 cents a share, from $22.2 million, or 44 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. Analysts had expected per-share income of 37 cents.
  • Culp (CFI) said it swung to second-quarter net income of $812,000, or 7 cents a share, from last year's result, which included restructuring and related charges of $3.8 million, or 33 cents per share. During the same period in the prior year, the net loss was $4.15 million, or 36 cents a share.
  • Delia's (DLIA) said third-quarter net income rose, as revenue gained, to $3.27 million, or 11 cents a share, from $1.68 million, or 6 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. The retailer said quarterly revenue rose to $67.5 million from $60.3 million in the prior year.
  • Duke Realty (DUK) said it has agreed to acquire Bremner Healthcare Real Estate, a national healthcare development and management firm. The company will be known as Bremner-Duke Healthcare Real Estate.
  • Dynamex (DDMX) reported first-quarter net earnings of $3.65 million, or 34 cents a share, compared with $3.18 million, or 27 cents a share, in the same period last year, on the back of higher sales. Analysts had expected per-share earnings of 31 cents.
  • Eli Lilly (LLY) reiterated its 2006 forecast and released a 2007 earnings projection that is below analysts' forecasts.
  • Fannie Mae (FNM) restated multiple years' worth of results, cutting retained earnings at the mortgage giant by $6.3 billion through the middle of 2004. FNM ex-manager has publicly challenged the company's accounting practices, highlighting the hurdles the company faces as it tries to put its financial house in order.
  • Ford (F) added $5 billion to its $18 billion financing package, giving it more flexibility to restructure.
  • G-III Apparel Group (GIII) said third-quarter net earnings rose to $23.3 million, or $1.59 a share, from $14.8 million, or $1.15 a share, in the same period last year, on the back of strong sales. The apparel manufacturer said revenue rose 31% to $244.7 million from $186.6 million.
  • Gateway (GTW) named a new director as part of an agreement to head off a proxy battle with an investor group that owns a 10.7% stake in the company.
  • Home Depot (HD) said it has concluded its review of stock-option practices, and found unrecorded expenses since 1981 of $200 million related to the backdating of option grants.
  • Journal Register (JRC) said it expects a 2.5% increase in total advertising revenue for 2007. The company said it sees a 40% increase in online advertising revenue in 2007, and expects circulation revenue to rise 1%.
  • Liquidity Services (LQDT) said fourth-quarter net income rose, as revenue gained, to $2.23 million, or 8 cents a share, from $1.59 million, or 7 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • Merck (MRK) expects earnings to rise anywhere from 5% to 14% in 2007, as cost cuts and higher vaccine sales are expected to help offset sharply lower sales of its Zocor cholesterol medicine.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) expects to sell one million of its new Zune music players through the first half of 2007, a figure Microsoft contends would be a good start, though it pales in comparison to Apple's iPod.
  • News Corp (NWS) is near a deal to acquire the $11 billion stake Liberty Media holds in it, a move that would solidify Murdoch's control of the company. In exchange, Liberty would receive News Corp.'s 38.6% in DirecTV, cash and some smaller assets.
  • Parker Hannifin (PH) said total orders in November were up 5% compared with the year-ago period. The company added that orders in the industrial North America segment were flat vs. a year ago.
  • Pediatrix Medical Group (PDX) said the Federal Trade Commission has closed its investigation of the company's 2001 acquisition of Magella Healthcare Corp., and no further action is warranted. Also, Pediatrix said its audit committee expects to conclude that there were deficiencies in the company's stock-options process.
  • PepsiAmericas (PAS) said it is sees pretax charges of $18 million related to severance and other costs as part of the strategic realignment of its United States business. The Pepsi distributor said it sees recording $12 million of the charges in the fourth quarter, and the remainder throughout 2007.
  • Perry Ellis International (PERY) said it has agreed to re-acquire the Perry Ellis brand fragrance license from Parlux Fragrances Inc. for about $63 million.
  • Phelps Dodge (PD) said its board has given conditional approval to develop the initial mining project at the Tenke Fungurume copper/cobalt concession in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project will require a capital investment of about $650 million.
  • PNM Resources (PNM) said a public offering of 5 million of its shares has priced at $30.79 each. The energy holding company said it plans to use the proceeds to repay a portion of a loan used to finance the acquisition of the Twin Oaks Power facility.
  • Retail Ventures (RVI) said it is exploring strategic alternatives for its Value City department stores operations, including a possible sale.
  • SeaChange International (SEAC) said the third-quarter net loss narrowed, as revenue gained, to $1.03 million, or 4 cents a share, from a net loss of $2.11 million, or 7 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. Analysts had expected a per-share loss of 7 cents.
  • Tercica (TRCA) said a jury in a federal court in California found that Insmed (INSM) and Insmed Therapeutic Proteins Inc. infringed several patents licensed by Tercica from Genentech (DNA).
  • Veritas (VTS) said first-quarter net income gained, as revenue rose, to $27.5 million, or 68 cents a share, from $11.8 million, or 32 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. Quarterly revenue rose to $230.8 million from $168.7 million.
  • Viacom (VIA) said its $750 million retail debt offering of 6.85% senior notes due 2055 has priced. The media company said it plans to use the proceeds to repay a portion of its credit facilities and its commercial paper program.
  • VistaPrint (VPRT) said it has promoted Wendy Cebula to chief operating officer, effective Jan. 3. Cebula now is chief information officer.

Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng -0.96%, Nikkei +0.62%, Sensex +0.17%, Taiwan -0.09%, and Shanghai +0.01%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC +0.18%, DAX +0.23%, FTSE +0.40%, ATX +0.74%, Swiss Mkt. +0.52% and Stockholm +0.50%.
  • Crude oil is trading +0.19 to 62.38 while gold is flat at 635.9 this morning.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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