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Spotlight Stocks: ConAgra, Countrywide, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac


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


Stocks to watch for Friday, March 28, 2008:

  • Apollo Group (APOL) reported a 2Q loss of $32 million, or 19 cents a share, down from a profit of $60.3 million, or 35 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding special items, the company would have reported a profit of $70.3 million, or 41 cents a share in the latest quarter. Revenue rose to $693.6 million from $608.7 million a year ago. Analysts estimated a quarterly profit of 52 cents a share on revenue of $701.8 million.
  • ConAgra (CAG) reported yesterday it will sell its commodities-trading business to Ospraie Management LLC for $2.1 billion. The unit places hedges against swings in the cost of ingredients and energy, and has been a profitable venture.
  • Countrywide (CFC) Chief Operating Officer David Sambol will receive $28 million from Bank of America (BAC) to run the merged companies' consumer mortgage operations, reported Reuters. Sambol will be paid a $20 million retention bonus payable in equal installments on the first and second anniversaries of the merger, which is expected to close in the third quarter. In addition, he will get $8 million of restricted stock vesting in three installments on the first, second and third anniversaries of the merger.
  • Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) will be permitted by their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), to raise up to $20 billion in capital in order to buy more debt securities. The companies must raise the money before OFHEO approves a further cut in the amount of capital they need to protect against losses on some $5 trillion of mortgage investments, said OFHEO director James Lockhart.
  • Red Hat (RHT) reported a 4Q net income of $22.9 million, or 10 cents a share, up from $21.5 million, or 10 cents a share a year ago. Revenue rose 27% to $141.5 million from $111.1 million. Excluding special items, Red Hat said earnings for the quarter were 20 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings excluding special items of 19 cents a share, and $141 million in revenue.

Market Recap

  • Asian trading closed higher with the Hang Seng +2.74%, Nikkei +1.71%, Sensex +2.22%, Taiwan +0.20% and Shanghai +4.94%.
  • Looking over at Europe, we see the CAC -0.14%, DAX +0.17%, FTSE +0.13%, ATX +1.50%, Swiss Mkt. +0.06% and Stockholm -0.13%.
  • Commodities are trading down with crude oil -0.22 to 107.36 and gold lower -4.4 to 944.4 this morning.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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