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Stocks To Watch: Citigroup, General Motors, Google, H&R Block, Wal-Mart

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

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Stocks to watch for Thursday, March 15:

  • Bradley Pharmaceuticals (BDY) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $1.12 million, or 7 cents a share. In the same quarter last year, the company posted a net loss of $988,683, or 6 cents a share. The company said revenue in the three months ended Dec. 31 rose to $37.7 million from $30.9 million.
  • Bowne & Co. (BNE) said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $2.23 million, or 7 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $7.91 million, or 24 cents a share. Income from continuing operations swung to $142,000, or less than 1 cent a share, from a year-ago loss of $7.09 million, or 21 cents a share. The New York commercial printing company's revenue grew 22% to $191.1 million from $157 million a year earlier.
  • Broadcom (BRCM) said Eric Brandt will join the company later this month as chief financial officer. Brandt was most recently chief executive of Avanir Pharmaceuticals (AVNR) and was previously chief financial officer of Allergan (AGN)
  • ChipMOS Technologies (IMOS) said fourth-quarter net income rose 51% to $22.1 million, or 22 cents a share, from $14.6 million, or 18 cents a share, a year earlier, as revenue grew 38%. The Taiwan semiconductor testing company's revenue jumped to $181.6 million from $131.4 million in the year-ago period. On average, analysts expected per-share earnings of 18 cents on revenue of $180.5 million, according to a poll by Thomson Financial. For the first quarter, the company expects revenue of $170 million to $174 million, compared with Wall Street's estimate of $170.5 million.
  • Citigroup (C) plans to boost its staff in China by 25% this year and open new outlets in the country. It also hopes to increase its stake in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.
  • Citrix Systems (CTXS) said it will further delay filing of its 2006 report on form 10-K beyond March 16 due to an ongoing stock option review.
  • ECollege (ECLG) said it swung to a fourth-quarter loss of $6.58 million, or 28 cents a share, from net income of $2 million, or 8 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding noncash charges of $554,000 for stock-based compensation, income from continuing operations was $3 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with $1.9 million, or 8 cents a share, a year earlier.
  • General Motors (GM) swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $950 million but posted a $2 billion loss for 2006 as it struggles to turn around its core North American auto business.
  • Google (GOOG) plans to step up privacy protections for its users by making search records anonymous after no longer than two years.
  • H&R Block (HRB) cut the value of certain assets at its subprime-mortgage arm by an additional $29.2 million, raising doubts about the planned sale of the division.
  • Hibbett Sports (HIBB) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $12.6 million, or 39 cents a share, up 27% from $9.9 million, or 29 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The sporting goods chain said revenue in the quarter ended Feb. 3 rose to $151.2 million from $120.8 million in the comparable period last year, while same-store sales rose 5.9%. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting a per-share profit of 38 cents on revenue of $150 million.
  • Hot Topic (HOTT) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $8.87 million, or 20 cents a share, down 16% from $10.6 million, or 23 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The teen apparel retailer said revenue in the quarter ended Feb. 3 rose to $240.5 million from $230.4 million in the comparable period last year, while same-store sales fell 5.3%. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting a per-share profit of 21 cents on revenue of $239 million.
  • Lehman Brothers (LEH) reported that fiscal first-quarter profit rose 7% to a record $1.15 billion, despite fears about its exposure to the subprime-mortgage market.
  • Pep Boys (PBY) said fiscal fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations were $8.11 million, or 15 cents a share, compared with a loss of $22.9 million, or 42 cents a share, a year ago. The bottom line swung to earnings of $7.72 million from a loss of $24.6 million. The Philadelphia auto parts retail and service chain said revenue for the quarter ended Feb. 3 rose 6.5% to $586.1 million from $550.5 million a year ago. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted a fourth-quarter loss of 12 cents a share and revenue of $554.2 million.
  • PXRE Group (PXT) will merge with Argonaut Group (AGII) in a stock swap, resulting in an entity called Argo Group that will be 73%-owned by Argonaut's shareholders, the companies said. Argonaut shareholders will receive 6.4672 shares of PXRE for each Argonaut share. San Antonio-based underwriter Argonaut plans to pay a $60 million dividend to its common shareholders before the merger closes.
  • Scientific Games (SGMS) said it sold its racing communications business to privately held Roberts Communications Network LLC, for a 29.4% stake in Roberts. Scientific Games expects the transaction to add to earnings.
  • Staar Surgical (STAA) said its fourth-quarter loss widened to $5.68 million, or 22 cents a share, from $3.43 million, or 14 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the loss was $3.59 million, or 14 cents a share. The provider of minimally invasive ophthalmic products said net sales increased 27% to $15.3 million from $12.1 million a year ago. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted fourth-quarter revenue of $14.9 million.
  • Wal-Mart (WMT) has renegotiated leases with banks operating in its stores, giving it the explicit right to offer mortgages, loans and other financial services.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.70%, Nikkei +1.10%, Sensex +0.11%, Taiwan +1.66% and Shanghai +1.56%.
  • Looking over at Europe, we find the CAC +1.31%, DAX +1.70%, FTSE +1.54%, ATX +1.89%, Swiss Mkt. +1.42% and Stockholm +1.84%.
  • Gold is trading +4.00 to 646.5 and crude oil is +0.32 to 58.48 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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