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Stocks To Watch: Ahold, AppleBee's, Cablevision, Citigroup, General Motors

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

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Stocks to watch for Thursday, May 3:

  • Ahold (AHO) agreed to sell U.S. Foodservice, the unit at the center of a 2003 accounting scandal, to private-equity firms Clayton Dubilier and KKR in a $7.1 billion deal.
  • Airgas (ARG) reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $43.7 million, or 54 cents a share, up 31% from $33.5 million, or 42 cents a share, during the year-ago period. Revenue at the distributor of industrial gasses company rose to $853.9 million from $746.9 million.
  • Applebee's (APPB) delivered a first-quarter profit that was sharply lower than last year's, amid hefty charges to cover impairment costs tied to store closings and other like costs. Applebee's said it made $9.5 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with last year's income of $27.2 million, or 36 cents a share. Total revenue also was lower than last year's at $337.6 million.
  • Avis Budget (CAR) reported first-quarter net earnings of $13 million, or 12 cents a share, down from $70 million, or 70 cents a share, during the year-ago period. Revenue at the provider of vehicle rental services rose to $1.37 billion from $1.34 billion.
  • Cablevision's (CVC) board accepted a $10.6 billion privatization bid from the founding Dolans, but some investors say the $36.26-a-share deal undervalues the firm.
  • Citigroup (C) agreed to acquire Bisys (BSG) for $1.45 billion as part of an effort to expand its hedge-fund-related businesses.
  • Countrywide (CFC) CEO Angelo Mozilo is taking a pay cut in an effort to blunt criticism of his compensation.
  • Dow Jones's (DJ) board took no immediate action on News Corp.'s (NWS) $5 billion offer, increasing the potential for tension between the controlling Bancroft family and shareholders pressing for a sale.
  • DTE Energy (DTE) reported first-quarter net earnings of $134 million, or 76 cents a share, down slightly from $136 million, or 76 cents a share, during the year-ago period. Operating revenue at the Detroit-based utility company rose to $2.73 billion from $2.64 billion.
  • Fannie Mae (FNM) said Chief Financial Officer Robert Blakely will step down at year end, and the mortgage-finance company released its much-delayed 2005 annual report, posting a 26% earnings increase.
  • General Motors (GM posted a 90% plunge in first-quarter net income, though its loss narrowed at its core North American region, as poor earnings at GMAC Financial services weighed on the auto maker.
  • JDS Uniphase (JDSU), a maker of technology networking equipment, late Wednesday said it swung to a fiscal third-quarter net loss of $14.2 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a net profit of $3.7 million, or 2 cents a share. For the three months ended March 31, sales rose to $361.7 million, up from $314.9 million a year ago, and better than Wall Street's expectations.
  • Las Vegas Sands (LVS) said its first-quarter profit fell 25%, largely due to costs associated with the pending opening of new locations. The gaming company said it made $90.9 million, or 26 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared to $121.8 million, or 34 cents a share, the year before. Revenue rose to $628.2 million from $530.4 million.
  • Prudential Financial (PRU) said that first-quarter net income came in at $1.025 billion, or $2.18 per common share, up 52% from a year earlier when the life insurance and annuity company made $675 million, or $1.38 per common share. After-tax adjusted operating income was $868 million, or $1.85 a share. The insurer stuck with its full-year forecast for after-tax adjusted operating income of $6.80 to $7 a share.
  • Sunoco (SUN) reported first-quarter net income of $175 million, or $1.44 a share, up from $79 million, or 59 cents a share, a year ago. Profits include $90 million from the sale of stock in its Sunoco Logistics limited partnership, in which Sunoco holds a 43% stake. There were no special items in the year-ago quarter. Revenue at the Philadelphia-based oil refiner rose 8% to $9.31 billion from $8.59 billion.
  • Thomas Weisel Partners (TWPG) first-quarter profit fell 75% to $5.4 million, or 20 cents a share, from $21.3 million, or 96 cents a share, a year earlier, when results were boosted by a $10.8 million tax benefit. The San Francisco investment bank said net revenue fell to $76.7 million from $78 million in the year-earlier quarter.
  • Time Warner (TWX) reported strong first-quarter operating profit, fueled by robust demand for its bundled suite of cable offerings and advertising gains at its AOL online division.
  • Time Warner Telecom (TWTC) said its first-quarter loss narrowed to $13.8 million, or 10 cents a share, from $22.3 million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier. The provider of communication services said revenue rose 40% to $261.4 million from $186.2 million.
  • Unum (UNM) said that first-quarter net income came in at $178.3 million, or 51 cents a share, more than double a year earlier when the disability insurer made $73.4 million, or 23 cents a share. Income from continuing operations was $174.6 million, or 50 cents a share, the company added. Income from continuing operations was $174.6 million, or 50 cents a share, the company added.
  • Valero Energy (VLO) said it has agreed to sell its 165,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Lima, Ohio, to Husky Energy (HSE) for $1.9 billion, plus net working capital estimated at $200 million. The sale is expected to close during the second quarter. Valero announced in February it was exploring alternatives for the Lima refinery, which it acquired through its 2005 purchase of Premcor Inc.
  • VeriSign's (VRSN) first-quarter revenue increased 1.6% to $378.6 million, from $372.8 million a year earlier. The Internet payment security provider didn't provide complete first-quarter results, citing a pending restatement that hasn't been completed.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +1.44%, Taiwan +0.30% and Sensex +1.48%.
  • A quick look across the pond finds the CAC -0.05%, DAX -0.22%, FTSE +0.52%, ATX -0.11%, Swiss Mkt. -0.92% and Stockholm -1.09%.
  • Crude oil is +0.30 to 63.98 and gold is +3.1 to 678.2 this morning.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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