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Stocks To Watch: Alcoa, Berkshire Hathaway, Citigroup, Countrywide, Kohl's

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

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Stocks to watch for Friday, March 2:

  • Ace (ACE) said it has named Evan Greenberg chairman in addition to his role as chief executive.
  • American International Group (AIG) reported a jump in fourth-quarter net income late and unveiled a big share buyback and new dividend plan.
  • AMN Healthcare Services (AHS) fourth-quarter net income jumped 44% to $10 million, or 29 cents a share, from $6.98 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. The San Diego company's revenue grew to $283.5 million from $221.4 million.
  • Alcoa (AA) plans to close its Reynolds Food Packaging plastics manufacturing plant in Mt. Vernon, Ky., by the middle of this year. The Pittsburgh producer and manager of aluminum and alumina facilities said the closing will affect 115 people.
  • Bausch & Lomb (BOL), which recently completed a restatement of its results for 2005, said it was unable to file its 2006 annual report on time.
  • Berkshire Hathaway's (BRKA) fourth-quarter net income fell 30% to $3.58 billion from $5.13 billion a year earlier, the company said. The conglomerate said operating earnings per-share rose to $1,859 from $1,196. Also, Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett used his annual shareholder letter to post a job ad for a new chief investment officer.
  • Cbeyond (CBEY) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $4.35 million, down from $5.32 million last year. The company reported net income available to common stockholders of $4.35 million, or 16 cents per basic share, up from $4.22 million, or 26 cents per basic share, in the year-ago period.
  • Citigroup (C) said it acquired prepaid card company Ecount Inc. for an undisclosed amount. Citigroup, a New York financial services company, said the acquisition would strengthen its position in the U.S. payments business and would enable the launch of prepaid cards worldwide.
  • Countrywide (CFC) posted sharp increases in late payments for 2006. Payments were late on 19% of subprime mortgage loans, up from 15.2%.
  • Credence Systems (CMOS) reported a first-quarter net loss of $11,000, or breakeven on a per-share basis, compared with a net loss of $4.05 million, or 4 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The semiconductor-testing-equipment company posted revenue of $118.8 million vs. $121.8 million.
  • Cumulus Media's (CMLS) fourth-quarter loss narrowed to $51.4 million, or $1.21 a share, from $218.3 million, or $3.45 a share, a year earlier. The Milwaukee radio broadcasting company's revenue rose to $87.8 million from $82.9 million in the year-ago period.
  • Dell (DELL) reported depressed quarterly results and warned that financial pressures will continue for the next few quarters.
  • Ferro (FOE) posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.86 million. During the same period a year ago, the company reported net earnings of $985,000. The loss available to common shareholders were $4.16 million, or 10 cents a share. A year ago, earnings available to common shareholders were $624,000, or a penny a share. The Cleveland-based maker of performance materials posted revenue of $497.3 million vs. $457.9 million.
  • Fluor (FLR) said earnings for the fourth quarter rose to $80.7 million, or 90 cents a share, from $65.1 million, or 74 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter, when a $9 million income tax benefit boosted results. Revenue fell 8% to $3.6 billion because of reduced volumes in work for the government and industrial segments.
  • Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) said it plans to offer a total of $6 billion of senior notes to the public in two tranches. The company also said its 2006 operating income would have totaled $6.5 billion, with revenue of $17.7 billion, if it had already completed its acquisition of Phelps Dodge (PD).
  • Gap (GPS) turned in a 35% drop in fourth-quarter profit, capping a year of sales turmoil and executive shake ups, and forecast lower fiscal-year results as it grapples with its future and folds the Forth & Towne concept.
  • Handleman (HDL) said it has suspended its quarterly cash dividend of 8 cents a share in connection with amending its credit agreement. The distributor of prerecorded music, and video game hardware and software said will redirect its cash flow to reduce outstanding debt.
  • Kohl's (KSS) said fourth-quarter profit rose nearly 30%, helped by new store openings and strength in its private-label brands.
  • KongZhong's (KONG) fourth-quarter net income fell 42% to $3.66 million, or 10 cents an American depositary share, from $6.26 million, or 17 cents an American depository share, a year ago. The Beijing provider of wireless services said revenue rose 7.1% to $23.7 million from $22.1 million.
  • Longs Drug Stores (LDG) preliminary retail drug store sales from continuing operations rose 4.6% in February to $367.5 million from $351.3 million a year ago. The retail drug store chain's same-store sales rose 2.7% from the year-ago period.
  • McDermott International (MDR) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $141 million, or $1.23 a share, up from $36.1 million, or 32 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The Houston-based energy services contractor posted revenue of $1.31 billion vs. $395.9 million.
  • Novell (NOVL) said that profit disappeared during its fiscal first quarter, while revenue fell 5%. Waltham, Mass.-based Novell said after the market's close that for the quarter ended Jan. 31 it had a loss of $19.9 million, or 6 cents a share, compared to net income of $1.87 million, or break-even, during the period a year ago. Revenue for the quarter fell to $230 million, compared to $242 million a year ago.
  • Noven Pharmaceuticals (NOVN) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $7.12 million, or 29 cents a share, up from $6.06 million, or 25 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding certain items, the Miami-based company reported a profit of $7.7 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with $2.7 million, or 11 cents a share, last year. Revenue in the three months ended Dec. 31 rose to $17.2 million from $16.8 million.
  • OmniVision Technologies (OVTI) reported third-quarter net earnings of $4.13 million, or 7 cents a share, down from $29.6 million, or 53 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The company, which designs and markets high-performance semiconductor image sensors, posted revenue of $134.4 million vs. $137.3 million.
  • Pall (PLL) reported fiscal second-quarter net earnings of $55.8 million, or 45 cents a share, up 72% from $32.4 million, or 26 cents a share, in the year-ago period. On a pro forma basis, the maker of filtration, purification, and separation products reported earnings of 43 cents a share compared with 28 cents a share last year.
  • PMC-Sierra (PMCS) named Michael Zellner as chief financial officer.
  • Drug developer Sepracor (SEPR) named Adrian Adams president and chief operating officer, replacing W. James O'Shea, who was named to the newly created position of vice chairman.
  • Sears (SHLD) said net income rose 27% in the fourth quarter on a modest sales increase, driven by apparel sales at its Kmart and domestic Sears stores, as well as an extra week during the fiscal year.
  • Sharper Image (SHRP) said it has filed an amended Form 10-K for the year ended Jan. 31, 2006, with restated financial results. The San Francisco-based retailer said the effect of the restatement is less than previously estimated, with non-cash compensation expense of $17.7 million, or $10.5 million after tax, for the fiscal years 1995 through 2005.
  • Standard & Poor's will add Superior Energy Services (SPN) to its S&P 400 MidCap Index on a date to be announced, replacing Mercantile Bankshares (MRBK).
  • TXU Corp.'s (TXU) acquisition will include a $500 million co-investment by KKR Private Equity Investors LP, or KPE. KPE intends to invest $300 million in the Dallas utility holding company plus about $200 million of capital contributions, which it expects to fund as a limited partner in KPE's private equity funds.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng -1.55%, Nikkei -0.86%, Sensex +1.71%, and Shanghai -2.91%.
  • Looking over at Europe, we find the CAC -0.18%, DAX -0.08%, FTSE +0.36%, ATX +1.36%, Swiss Mkt. +0.35% and Stockholm +0.64%.
  • Gold is trading +3.50 to 676.0 and crude oil is +0.32 to 62.11 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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