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Stocks To Watch: Comcast, Dell, Google, New York Times, Starbucks

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Find your way through the fray!

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Stocks to watch for Thursday, February 1:

  • Alliance Data Systems (ADS) said fourth-quarter net income rose, as revenue gained, to $39.6 million, or 48 cents a share, from $31.3 million, or 38 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • Altria (MO) set a March 30 date for the spinoff of its Kraft stake and is expected to decide later this year on splitting its U.S. and international tobacco businesses.
  • Applebee's International (APPB) said its January system-wide domestic sales at restaurants open at least one year fell 5.8%. Comparable sales for domestic franchise restaurants decreased 5.5% for the four-week period ended Jan. 28.
  • Armor Holdings (AH) said fourth-quarter net income rose to $37.8 million, or $1.02 a share, from $37.6 million, of $1.04 a share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • Comcast's (CMCSA) net profit tripled in the fourth quarter and revenue climbed 30% as customers signed up for its discounted video, Internet and phone package. The nation's largest cable-television provider also announced a 3-for-2 stock split.
  • Concur Technologies (CNQR) reported first-quarter net earnings of $993,000, or 2 cents a share, up 53% from $648,000, or 2 cents a share, during the year-ago period. There were 40.2 million shares outstanding during the quarter compared with 36.5 million a year ago.
  • Dell (DELL) said it has named company founder Michael Dell chief executive effective immediately, to replace Kevin Rollins. The Round Rock, Texas, computer company said Dell will retain his duties as chairman.
  • Duke Realty (DRE) said fourth-quarter net income for shareholders rose to $55 million, or 37 cents a share, from $33.1 million, or 22 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year, as revenues from continuing operations gained.
  • Equifax (EFX) said fourth-quarter net income rose, as revenue gained, to $63.1 million, or 50 cents a share, from $62.8 million, or 48 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. The Atlanta company sees 2007 revenue growth of 6% to 10%, with per-share income of $2.15 to $2.23.
  • Fiserv (FISV) posted fourth-quarter net income of $105.9 million, or 61 cents a share, compared with $150.5 million, or 81 cents a share, during the same period one year ago.
  • Furniture Brands International (FBN) said its fourth-quarter net earnings dropped to $2.06 million, or 4 cents a share, from $17.1 million, or 34 cents a share, in the same period last year, as sales decreased and costs of sales and expenses rose.
  • Gilead Sciences (GILD) swung to a fourth-quarter loss of $1.67 billion, or $3.62 a share. In the same period the year before, the company posted net earnings of $281.6 million, or 59 cents a share.
  • Google's (GOOG) net nearly tripled, helped by improvements in its search-ad business. But shares eased after hours on concern over pressure on profit margins.
  • Group 1 Automotive (GPI) said it has acquired the Baron Automotive Group in Kansas City, Kan. The acquisition consists of two dealerships, Baron BMW/Mini and Baron Volkswagen, and is expected to generate about $123 million in estimated annual revenue.
  • Hercules (HPC) said net income for the fourth quarter swung to a profit of $242.1 million, or $2.14 a share. In the same period last year, the company posted a net loss of $79.2 million, or 73 cents a share.
  • Murphy Oil (MUR) said fourth-quarter net income plummeted 43% from the year-ago, hurt by lower margins, weaker exploration and production figures and rising costs.
  • New York Times (NYT) posted a $648 million loss, reflecting a write-down of its struggling New England properties, including the Boston Globe.
  • NuCO2 (NUCO) said its second-quarter net earnings dropped to $1.38 million, or 9 cents a share, from $2.64 million, or 17 cents a share, in the same period last year, due to higher expenses.
  • Oshkosh Truck (OSK) said its JLG Industries Inc. subsidiary was awarded a $102.2 million contract by the Army for the purchase of military telescopic material handlers.
  • Pulte Homes (PHM) reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $8.41 million, or 3 cents a share. During the same period a year ago, the company posted net earnings of $574.5 million, or $2.19 a share. The loss from continuing operations was $8.3 million, or 3 cents a share.
  • Silgan Holdings (SLGN) said fourth-quarter net income rose, as revenue gained, to $20.8 million, or 55 cents a share, from $14 million, or 37 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • Sirf Technology Holdings (SIRF) found itself in the tech-sector spotlight as its shares surged as much as 25% in afternoon trading after the company said it anticipates growing consumer demand for more wireless devices that offer global positions system capabilities.
  • Sonic (SONC) said its board has increased the amount available under the company's stock repurchase plan to $100 million from $10.7 million.
  • Spherion (SFN) said fourth-quarter net income rose, as the company gained $30 million from discontinued operations, to $39.8 million, or 70 cents a share, from $6.34 million, or 10 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year.
  • SRA International (SRX) reported second-quarter net earnings of $16.7 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with $15.9 million, or 28 cents a share, in the same period the prior year, on the back of higher revenue.
  • Starbucks (SBUX) said fiscal first-quarter net income rose to $205 million, or 26 cents a share, from $174.2 million, or 22 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Same-store sales rose 6% in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
  • Tighter refining margins and weak heating-oil demand knocked the air out of
    Sunoco Inc.'s (SUN) fourth-quarter results, leaving the independent East Coast refiner with less than half the profit it racked up a year ago.
  • The Tokyo Stock Exchange is in talks about forming a possible alliance with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, one day after Asia's biggest stock market announced a cooperative agreement with the New York Stock Exchange.
  • SunOpta (STKL) said it has agreed to sell 4.5 million shares at $10.40 each in an underwritten offering to a group of underwriters led by Canaccord Adams.
  • Tractor Supply (TSCO) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $29.5 million, or 72 cents a share, compared with $30.9 million, or 75 cents a share, in the same period last year, as expenses rose.
  • U.S. Bancorp (USB) said that it priced a private placement of $3 billion in floating rate convertible senior debentures due 2037. The company will use part of the offering's net proceeds to fund repurchases of up to 14 million shares, and the remainder for general corporate purposes.
  • VeriSign (VRSN) posted fourth-quarter total revenue of $412.6 million, compared with $389.1 million during the year-ago period. The company did not report full results due to the previously announced review of its historical stock option grants, which it said is now substantially completed.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +1.61%, Nikkei +0.78%, Sensex +1.25%, Taiwan +0.02% and Shanghai -0.03%.
  • A quick check towards Europe finds CAC +0.96%, DAX +0.86%, FTSE +1.33%, ATX +0.79%, Swiss Mkt. +0.92% and Stockholm +0.71%.
  • Gold is +2.0 to 659.9 and crude oil is +0.03 to 58.17 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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