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Stocks to Watch: American Financial Group, Boston Scientific, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nordstrom


Friday's top stories and stocks with potential to move...


Stocks to watch for Friday, August 17, 2007:

  • American Financial Group (AFG) said it has approved the buyback of up to an additional 5 million shares of its outstanding common stock, in addition to the 1 million shares remaining under the previous program from March 2004, the company said.
  • Autodesk (ADSK) reported second-quarter net earnings of $91.6 million, or 38 cents a share, up 6% from $86.8 million, or 36 cents a share, during the year-earlier period. Pro forma earnings were $108 million, or 44 cents a share, compared with $96 million, or 39 cents a share, last year. The data and design software maker said revenue for the three months ended July 31 rose to $525.9 million from $449.6 million
  • BEA Systems' (BEAS) revenue rose 7% to $364.6 million from $339.6 million in the year-ago period, boosted by revenue from its AquaLogic products. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected revenue of $348 million. The company said it isn't reporting GAAP or non-GAAP earnings for the period ended July 31 because of an internal review of its historical stock options grants.
  • Boston Scientific (BSX) said it will explore the sale of its cardiac surgery and vascular surgery businesses, which it bought in April 2006 as part of its Guidant acquisition. The unit employs roughly 450 people and had 2006 revenue of $189 million.
  • Countrywide Financial (CFC) shored up its finances by tapping an $11.5 billion line of credit and having its banking arm provide a greater share of funding for its loans.
  • Darden Restaurants (DRI) said it has agreed to acquire Rare Hospitality International (RARE) for $38.15 a share in cash, or roughly $1.4 billion, in a tender offer. The bid represents a 38.7% premium over Rare Hospitality's closing stock price on Thursday. Rare Hospitality operates and franchises 317 restaurants, including 287 LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants and 28 Capital Grille restaurants.
  • Dell (DELL) said it would restate more than four years of its financial results following an internal investigation. The investigation found that unidentified senior executives and other employees manipulated company accounts to meet quarterly performance goals. The restatement will reduce the computer maker's reported profit by $50 million to $150 million.
  • E-Trade Financial (ETFC: News, Quote) disclosed more information on its mortgage holdings late Thursday to try to calm investor concerns. The discount broker also said that it's so far seen no material changes in the availability, pricing or margin on its wholesale funding sources, including repurchase agreements.
  • Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) posted a 29% jump in net income and a 16% rise in revenue for its fiscal third quarter, driven particularly by its revitalized personal-computer business. H-P also raised its revenue and profit outlook for the current quarter ending in October.
  • Nordstrom (JWN) said its second-quarter profit rose, helped by strength in designer clothing and accessories, and raised its forecast for the year.
  • A federal judge rejected a Federal Trade Commission request to block Whole Foods Market's (WFMI) acquisition of smaller rival Wild Oats Markets (OATS) , according to media reports.

Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng -1.38%, Nikkei -5.42%, Sensex -1.51%, Taiwan -1.35% and Shanghai -2.28%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC -0.35%, DAX -0.57%, FTSE -0.34%, ATX -1.90%, Swiss Mkt. -0.85% and Stockholm -1.24%.
  • Crude oil is trading higher +0.52 to 71.52 and gold is also higher +4.7 to 662.7.
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