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Stocks To Watch: Apple, DaimlerChrysler, Expedia, Maximus, Netflix


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


Stocks to watch for Tuesday, July 24:

  • Acuity Brands (AYI) said it plans to spin off its Acuity Specialty Products Group business into an independent publicly traded company. The new company, which will be named later, will provide cleaning and maintenance products and will have projected annual sales of nearly $600 mln. The spin-off will be accomplished through a tax-free distribution to Acuity shareholders in the fall, the company said. Acuity shareholders are expected to receive one share of the new company for every two shares held.
  • American Express (AXP) reported a 12% increase in second-quarter net income, but profit growth was restrained by an 85% jump in loss provisions at the credit-card giant's main U.S. business.
  • American Standard (ASD) said it has agreed to sell its kitchen and bath business to funds advised by private-equity firm Bain Capital Partners for $1.76 bln in cash.
  • AT&T (T) is paying Apple (AAPL) apprx. $150-200 per phone (+ $9/month over life of contract) for iPhone subscriptions.
  • The deal to wrap up Cerberus' acquisition of Chrysler, now owned by DaimlerChrysler (DCX) could occur Mon/Tues of next week.
  • ConAgra Foods (CAG) bought Alexia Foods, a privately held natural foods company, including the interest in Alexia held by private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. ConAgra, the packaged food company, said Alexia, which has $35 mln in annual sales, will continue its operations and will remain under the leadership of president and chief executive Alex Dzieduszycki.
  • Expedia (EXPE) slashed the size of its proposed stock buyback by 79%, citing surging financing costs amid ongoing credit-market turmoil.
  • Standard & Poor's said it will add Kyphon (KYPH) to the S&P MidCap 400 index Wednesday, replacing Triad Hospitals (TRI).
  • Maximus (MMS) said it has retained UBS Investment Bank as financial adviser as the company explores strategic alternatives, including a possible sale. The company, which provides consulting and operations program management services to state and local government agencies, also said separately it has reached an agreement with the federal government to settle its investigation of the company's Medicaid claiming work for the District of Columbia. Under the terms of the settlement, Maximus will reimburse the government $30.5 mln for Medicaid claims prepared on behalf of the District of Columbia that lacked sufficient documentation.
  • Netflix (NFLX), the online DVD rental pioneer, reported its second-quarter profit rose 50% on a gain related to a patent lawsuit settlement, even as net subscribers decreased.
  • Food packager Pactiv (PTV) reported a 1% increase in second-quarter profit, boosted by its $1 bln acquisition of Prairie Packaging.
  • Icelandic investment group Baugur, which owns a string of British retailers, has amassed a stake totalling 8.08% of U.S. department store chain Saks (SKS), a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed. The SEC filing, dated July 23, said Baugur had 11.5 mln shares in Saks.
  • A merged Sirius (SIRI) and XM (XMSR) would offer a-la-carte pricing options, the satellite-radio firms said in a statement aimed at regulators.
  • Target (TGT) said that, based on actual sales, it still believes receipts at stores open longer than a year will rise 5% to 7% in July. The forecast covers the four-week period from July 8 to Aug. 4. The discount giant said it will report actual sales on Aug. 9. Shares of Target ended the session at $66.67, off 1.1%, ahead of the news.
  • Texas Instruments (TXN) reported a weaker second-quarter profit amid lower demand for its chips used in cell phones and other electronics. Its sales forecast also lagged Wall Street's expectations.

Market Update:

  • Asian trading closed mostly higher with the Hang Seng +0.46%, Nikkei +0.21%, Sensex +0.40%, Taiwan +1.27% and Shanghai -0.07%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC -0.51%, DAX -0.90%, FTSE -0.82%, ATX +0.11%, Swiss Mkt. -0.23% and Stockholm -0.47%.
  • Crude oil is trading lower-0.96 to 73.93 and gold is higher +1.3 to 682.8 this morning.
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No position in stocks mentioned.

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