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Stocks To Watch: Blackstone, Hewlett-Packard, Jabil Circuit, Pfizer, Wells Fargo


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


Stocks to watch for Friday, June 22:

  • Blackstone Group's (BX) initial public offering is priced at $31 a share, at the top end of the private equity firm's guidance of between $29 and $31 a share.
  • is on the block and could fetch over $300 million. The firm's founders paid $7.5 million for its domain name in '99. Both Dow Jones (DJ) and the New York Times (NYT) have expressed interest.
  • Corus Bankshares (CORS) declared a special cash dividend of $1 per share, payable Aug. 1 to shareholders of record by July 18. The bank holding company said the special dividend represents a total distribution of more than $56 million.
  • Cognos (COGN) reported first-quarter net earnings of $22.4 million, or 25 cents a share, up 54% from $14.5 million, or 16 cents a share, during the year-ago period. Excluding amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets and stock-based compensation expense, earnings were $29.2 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with 19.8 million, or 22 cents a share, last year. The based business-software maker said that revenue for the three months ended May 31 rose to $236.7 million from $217 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast, on average, a per-share profit of 32 cents on revenue of $237 million. Additionally, Cognos said it expects second-quarter per-share earnings of 25 cents to 30 cents, or 34 cents to 39 cents on a pro forma basis, on revenue of $245 million to $255 million. For fiscal 2008, the company said it sees per-share earnings of $1.66 to $1.73, or $1.98 to $2.05 on a pro-forma basis, on revenue of $1.065 billion to $1.085 billion. Separately, Cognos said it has named Rick Gilbody president of the Americas, reporting to Chief Operating Officer Les Rechan.
  • Franklin Resources (BEN) said it has approved the buyback of an additional 10 million shares of its common stock. The new authorization is in addition to the existing program, of which 222,758 shares remain available for repurchase as of June 15, the investment-management company said.
  • Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) named Ron Coughlin senior vice president of worldwide marketing for the imaging and printing group, effective by July 23. Coughlin most was recently senior vice president and chief marketing officer of PepsiCo's international beverage business.
  • Hologic (HOLX) agreed to acquire BioLucent a medical device company, for $70 million and a two-year earn-out. The purchase price will consist of $5 million in cash and $65 million in cash, shares or a combination. The earn-out will be payable in two annual cash installments of up to $15 million. Concurrently with the acquisition, BioLucent will spin off its brachytherapy business into an independent entity. Hologic is a diagnostic and medical imaging company.
  • Jabil Circuit (JBL) reported third-quarter net earnings of $6.23 million, or 3 cents a share, down from $64.2 million, or 30 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding certain items, the company reported core earnings of 23 cents a share versus 36 cents a share last year. The provider of services and products to the electronics and technology industries said revenue in the three months ended May 31 rose 16% to $3 billion from $2.59 billion last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting, on average, a per-share profit of 21 cents on revenue of $2.95 billion. Jabil forecast fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 7 cents to 16 cents a share, or core earnings of 25 cents to 31 cents a share, on revenue of $3 billion. Analysts are looking for a per-share profit of 30 cents on revenue of $2.96 billion.
  • JMP Group (JMP) reported first-quarter net earnings of $825,000, or 17 cents a share, up from $412,000, or 11 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The investment banking firm said that revenue for the three months ended March 31 rose to $21.9 million from $18.8 million. Investment banking revenues were $11.5 million for the quarter, compared with $10.4 million last year.
  • Metabolix (MBLX) said the German Federal Patents Court has dismissed a patent suit filed by Procter & Gamble (PG). Metabolix said the suit challenged the validity of a patent that is licensed exclusively to Metabolix by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The patent upheld in the suit is the German counterpart of European patent that covers a method of producing some types of biopolymers, Metabolix said.
  • Panera Bread (PNRA) bought 32 restaurants and area development rights for markets in Illinois and Minnesota from franchisees for $36 million. About $34.2 million of the acquisition price was paid with cash on hand, with the remaining $1.8 million to be paid with interest in 12 months, the company said. Panera expects the transaction to have a neutral effect or to "modestly" boost earnings for fiscal 2007. Shares of the bakery operator were $46.50 in recent after-hours trading after closing at $46.41.
  • Pfizer (PFE) obtained approval under priority review from the Food and Drug Administration for its Lyrica treatment for managing fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. Pfizer said Lyrica has been prescribed to more than 5 million patients worldwide, and had received earlier approval for the management of neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy and post-herpetic neuralgia, and for treating partial-onset seizures.
  • Schering-Plough (SGP) said a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts ruled in favor of the company and dismissed all claims relating to the company's branded pharmaceutical products in a class-action lawsuit involving several pharmaceutical companies and the setting of average wholesale prices for prescription products.
  • SiRF Technology (SIRF) said it has agreed to acquire Centrality Communications, a developer of navigation processor solutions for mobile navigation devices, for $283 million in cash and stock. Centrality has more than 190 employees. SiRF is a developer of semiconductor and software products.
  • Standard & Poor's said that Discover Financial Services will replace ADC Telecommunications (ADCT) in the S&P 500, and ADC will replace PH Glatfelter (GLT) in the S&P MidCap 400 after the close of trading on June 29. Morgan Stanley (MS) is spinning off Discover in a transaction expected to close by that date. Additionally, S&P said that Covidien Ltd. will replace National Semiconductor (NSM) in the S&P 100, and Sanmina-SCI (SANM) in the S&P 500. Also, Tyco Electronics will replace PMC-Sierra (PMCS) in the S&P 500, and the new Tyco International(TYC) will replace the pre-spinoff Tyco in the S&P 100 and 500. Tyco is spinning off Covidien and Tyco Electronics in a transaction expected to close by June 29.
  • State Street (STT) increased its quarterly dividend 5% to 22 cents from 21 cents a share. The dividend is payable on July 16 to shareholders of record as of June 29, the Boston-based financial services provider said.
  • Symmetry Holdings (SHJ) agreed to buy all issued and outstanding shares of Novamerican Steel (TONS) for $585.2 million. Symmetry said Novamerican shareholders will receive $56 in cash for each outstanding Novamerican share. The per-share consideration is a 19% premium over the volume-weighted average Novamerican share price of $47.03 for the past 20 days. On the deal's closing, Symmetry will also pay a dividend to Novamerican shareholders on a pro-rata basis equal to the lesser of the amount by which Novamerican's cash at closing exceeds $80 million or the amount by which the sum of cash and inventory exceeds $225 million.
  • Tektronix's (TEK) fiscal fourth-quarter net income fell 12% to $27.9 million, or 35 cents a share, from $31.9 million, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition-related costs, share-based compensation and other items, earnings from continuing operations were 45 cents a share. The maker of testing and measurement systems said sales for the quarter ended May 26 rose 3.2% to $298.5 million from $289.3 million a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected, on average, earnings of 42 cents a share on sales of $295 million.
  • Thoratec (THOR) named Elisha W. Finney to its board and Neil F. Dimick, currently chairman of its audit committee, chairman. The hemodynamic restoration therapy products company said Finney is senior vice president and chief financial officer of Varian Medical Systems (VAR), a medical device company. Thoratec said Dimick will replace J. Donald Hill, who will become vice chairman. Hill had been chairman since 1995. Shares of Thoratec closed down 32 cents, or 1.7%, at $18.66 in trading Thursday.
  • Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates (VSEA) will establish operations in Switzerland as part of a plan to improve the alignment of its legal entity structure with the geographic mix of its customers and suppliers. The semiconductor company said it expects to incur tax charges that will result in an effective tax rate of 73% for the fiscal third quarter and 48% to 52% for the fiscal year. Varian also sees an effective tax rate of 30% to 32% for fiscal 2008, said the rate may be lower in subsequent years. The company also cut its fiscal third-quarter earnings outlook to a range of 26 cents to 29 cents a share and boosted its revenue outlook to a range of $283 million to $289 million.
  • Viragen (VRA) halted development of the its avian transgenic technology for making therapeutic proteins, and will terminate research and license agreements with Roslin Institute and Oxford BioMedica OXB) . The company said "the distance between research and commercialization is simply too great" for the project, and it will focus on cancer therapies. Viragen will maintain its intellectual property portfolio for the product, called the Ova System, for potential licensing
  • Wells Fargo (WFC) said it has agreed to acquire CIT Group's (CIT) construction lending unit. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. CIT Construction had $2.4 billion in assets and 235 employees as of March 31. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of June. CIT Construction will operate as a division of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance.

Market Update:

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.21%, Nikkei -0.28%, Sensex -0.22%, Taiwan -0.06% and Shanghai -3.29%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC -0.13%, DAX -0.21%, FTSE -0.25%, ATX -0.09%, Swiss Mkt. -0.51% and Stockholm -1.82%.
  • Crude oil is trading lower -0.29 to 68.36 and gold is higher +2.9 to 657.1 this morning.
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