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Stocks To Watch: Chevron, Merck, Sony, Station Casinos, TXU Corp.


Today's big stories and some stocks with potential to move...


Stocks to watch for Monday, February 26:

  • Apax and Morgan Stanley's (MS) principal investment unit agreed to buy Chicago insurance broker Hub (HBG) for $1.7 billion.
  • Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (BWP) said it has committed to build a new $1.1 billion, 355-mile interstate gas pipeline from Sherman, Texas, to Perryville, La. The new project, called the Gulf Crossing Pipeline, will consist of 42-inch diameter pipeline with a capacity of roughly 1.5 billion cubic feet per day.
  • Cabot (CBT) said its board has approved increasing the quarterly cash dividend 13%, or by two cents, to 18 cents per share. The dividend is payable Dec. 8 to shareholders as of Nov. 24, according to the specialty chemicals company.
  • Chevron (CVX) has made another substantial discovery of natural gas off the West Australian coast, potentially adding resources to its proposed A$11 billion ($8.4 billion) Gorgon development. "The well discovered 623 feet of net gas sands in the Mungaroo Formation, which places Clio as one of the top wells in Australia in terms of total net pay," Chevron said in a statement.
  • Core-Mark Holding (CORE) said third-quarter net income rose, as revenue gained, to $4.4 million, or 40 cents a share, from $900,000, or 8 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. The distributor of packaged consumer products said quarterly revenue rose to $1.48 billion from $1.33 billion in the prior year. Core-Mark backed its view for $5.25 billion in sales for 2006.
  • The general partner of DCP Midstream Partners LP (DPM) said it has appointed Mark Borer as president and chief executive. Borer was also named to the board. DCP Midstream also said it has tapped Fred Fowler to succeed Jim Mogg as chairman of the board.
  • LAN Airlines (LFL) said October systemwide traffic rose 24.6% from last year, while capacity rose 20.5%. The Chile-based airline said October load factor rose 2.5 percentage points from a year ago to 75.9%.
  • Merck (MRK) will initially seek Food and Drug Administration approval for a narrower use of its painkiller Arcoxia than it had previously sought. FDA approval of Arcoxia has been delayed for several years in the wake of safety concerns about the class of drugs to which it belongs, known as selective Cox-2 inhibitors. Arcoxia, which is approved for sale in 62 other countries, is Merck's follow-up to Vioxx, the Cox-2 inhibitor it pulled from the market in 2004 after a study showed it elevated risk of heart attack.
  • PlayStation 3, Sony's (SNE) highly anticipated and long-delayed next-generation game console, went on sale in Japan and was greeted by thousands of fans. The console will compete for market share against Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Nintendo's (NTDOY) Wii.
  • Station Casinos (STN) accepted a revised offer valued at about $5.5 billion from a group led by the company's founding family and closely-held real-estate firm Colony Capital.
  • Suntron (SUNN) and Applied Materials (AMAT) said they have reached a confidential settlement agreement that terminates the litigation between the companies. Applied has agreed to pay Suntron an undisclosed sum, and will acquire certain Suntron inventory.
  • Tribune's (TRB) board is inching closer to a "self-help" restructuring it would implement itself, despite a late bid from Sam Zell.
  • TXU Corp's (TXU) prospective buyers have vowed to cancel plans to build most of the company's 11 coal-fired plants under development. A successful deal may signal a broader remaking of private equity's image.

Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng -0.98%, Nikkei +0.15% and the Sensex +0.52%
  • Looking over at Europe, we find the CAC +0.76%, DAX +0.52%, FTSE +0.59%, ATX +0.23%, Swiss Mkt. -0.24% and Stockholm +0.75%.
  • Gold is trading +1.2 to 687.9 and crude oil is +0.26 to 61.40 this morning.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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