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Stocks to Watch: Amgen, Countrywide, Kraft, Take-Two, Whole Foods

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

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Stocks to watch for Thursday, August 16, 2007:

  • Amgen (AMGN) said it will eliminate up to 14% of its workforce in an effort to reduce costs, in response to a weakening market for its top-selling anemia-fighting drugs Aranesp and Epogen.
  • Compuware (CPWR) said it won't take on debt to fund additional stock buybacks due to current unfavorable conditions in the credit markets. The software company said it will continue to repurchase shares as market conditions allow under its remaining discretionary authorization, but will discontinue its 10b5-1 stock buyback plan this week.
  • Countrywide Financial (CFC) shares dropped 13% with investors worried about the mortgage lender's ability to cope with a worsening credit crunch.
  • Kraft (KFT) is in the early stages of finding a buyer for its Post cereals unit. Potential bidders could include Pepsi (PEP) and General Mills (GIS).
  • Network Appliance (NTAP) saw earnings slide 37% in the July quarter, though the final results came in slightly better than the company's recently lowered expectations.
  • PetSmart (PETM) reported second-quarter net earnings of $47.1 million, or 35 cents a share, up 36% from $34.6 million, or 25 cents a share, during the year-earlier period. Excluding certain items, the company earned 36 cents a share in the most recent quarter, which ended July 29. The company said its earnings per share exceeded expectations due to a benefit related to the renegotiation of a contract with MMI Holdings Inc., and favorable results in insurance expense. The provider of pet products said revenue in the quarter rose to $1.12 billion from $1.02 billion, as same-store sales rose 4%.
  • Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) received a "Wells" call from the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the investigation into the company's historical stock option grants. Take-Two was informed that the SEC plans to seek authority from the SEC to file charges in connection with its investigation, and to also seek a civil monetary penalty. Take-Two said it still expects to resolve the investigation by means of a settlement rather than litigation, and said it believes that the Wells call represents a "significant step forward towards that resolution."
  • Whole Foods (WFMI) said in a statement that as of Wednesday, 69.4% of the shares of Wild Oats (OATS) common stock that were outstanding in late July have been tendered and not withdrawn pursuant to the offer. That's up from 57.1% of Wild Oats shares that had been tendered as of July 20.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng -3.29%, Nikkei -1.99%, Sensex -4.28%, Taiwan -4.56% and Shanghai -2.14%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC -3.23%, DAX -2.64%, FTSE -3.31%, ATX -3.87%, Swiss Mkt. -2.77% and Stockholm -3.50%.
  • Crude oil is trading lower-2.11 to 71.22 and gold is also down -6.0 to 673.7 this morning.

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