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Stocks To Watch: Citigroup, Google, Kraft, Motorola, Sallie Mae


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


Stocks to watch for Monday, April 16

  • Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA) filed a lawsuit against Amgen (AMGN) and Wyeth (WYE) alleging the two companies infringed on its patents covering treatments regulating certain cell-signalling activity. The company filed the claim in response to a suit brought by Amgen that seeks to invalidate one of Ariad's patents. The claim in Ariad's suit relates to Amgen's Enbrel and Kineret drugs.
  • Citigroup (C) posted an 11% drop in first-quarter profit, as costs related to a plan to cut 17,000 jobs hurt the bottom line. Revenue rose 15%, however. Wachovia's net rose 33% on cost-controls and acquisitions.
  • Eaton Vance (EV) reported assets under management of $144.3 billion as of March 31, up from $133.1 billion on Dec 31, 2006. Shares of Boston-based Eaton Vance rose 49 cents to close at $36.96 on Friday.
  • Gerber Scientific (GRB) signed a nonbinding letter of intent to buy privately held Data Technology Inc. Financial terms of the potential acquisition weren't disclosed. The supplier of automated manufacturing systems said Data Technology, a automated cutting hardware maker, had about $10 million in annual revenue. Gerber Scientific, which is currently in the process of a concluding a definitive purchase agreement, expects to complete the acquisition in the first quarter of fiscal year 2008.
  • Google (GOOG) will sell advertising on more than 675 Clear Channel radio stations, in a move to add scale to its offline ad business.
  • Kraft Foods (KFT) said executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Jeri Finard, will leave the company for personal reasons. The consumer products company is conducting an internal and external search for a replacement. Finard will remain with the company through mid-May to help with the transition.
  • Lawson Products (LAWS) said that Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Washlow is leaving the company. The company named Ronald Port as non-executive chairman, and President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Neri as the new CEO. Lawson makes industrial components.
  • LightPath Technologies (LPTH) expects to post fiscal third-quarter sales of $2.9 million, down 8% from $3.1 million a year earlier, on slower demand communications products. The optics company's gross margins were hurt by the lower sales in the recent third quarter ended March 31, but the impact was offset by lower production costs resulting from a manufacturing shift to Shanghai of most molded products. Although the company's current backlog is lower than a year earlier, LightPath said quoting activity has increased, and it remains confident about its future growth.
  • In a letter to shareholders, the board of directors of Motorola (MOT) recommended that shareholders vote against giving Carl Icahn a seat on the board at the company's annual meeting next month. Icahn issued a letter the previous day laying out his case for a board seat, calling the current board "passive and reactive." In its response, the company defended its board as directors "with deep experience and interest" in the company's technology. "Your Board evaluated Carl Icahn's nomination, taking into consideration his competing obligations as an investor, owner and director in many corporations and his experience as an investor in industries other than our industry, and did not judge his qualifications to be additive to the strength of the Board," the letter read.
  • Parlux Fragrances (PARL) reported fiscal third-quarter net earnings of $17.9 million, or 98 cents a share, up from $6 million, or 28 cents a share in the year-ago period. The period ended Dec. 31 included a pretax gain of $34.2 million from the sale of the Perry Ellis fragrance brand. Loss from continuing operations was $5.46 million, compared with income of $1.5 million in the same period last year. Net sales in the quarter came in at $43.4 million, up 15% from $37.8 million in the same period of the prior year.
  • Pope & Talbot (POP) said it has named Harold Stanton as president and chief executive, effective immediately. The pulp and wood products company also said that Lionel Dodd, previously presiding director of the board, was elected non-executive chairman. Michael Flannery, the outgoing president, CEO, chairman and director, will assist with the transition in an advisory capacity until June 30, the company said.
  • Regions Financial (RF) named Alton Yother chief financial officer, replacing Bryan Jordan, who left to take a position at another financial services company. The banking company said Yother previously worked at AmSouth Bancorp at the time of its merger.
  • Sallie Mae (SLM) agreed to be sold to two private-investment funds and J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America for $25 billion, placing the company in private hands amid intense scrutiny of lending to students.
  • USEC (USU) said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a construction and operating license for USEC's American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. The license, which is good for 30 years, includes authorization to enrich uranium up to an assay level of 10% U235, USEC said. The company said it is working toward beginning commercial plant operations in late 2009.

Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +2.05%, Nikkei +1.52%, Sensex +2.33%, Taiwan -0.02% and Shanghai +2.22%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC +0.64%, DAX +0.73%, FTSE +1.21%, ATX +0.26%, Swiss Mkt. +0.82% and Stockholm +0.29%.
  • Gold is trading +1.4 to 691.3 and crude oil is also up +0.36 to 63.99 this morning.
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