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Stocks To Watch: FedEx, Home Depot, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Verizon

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

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Stocks to watch for Wednesday, June 20:

  • ATS Medical (ATSI) said it has agreed to acquire the surgical cryoablation business of CryoCath Technologies (CYT) . Under the terms of the deal, ATS will pay $22 million upon closing, $2 million upon the achievement of certain milestones, $2 million two years after closing and up to $4 million in contingent payments based on future sales of Surgifrost XL. ATS expects the acquisition to add immediately to its earnings. The company forecast a net loss for the first half of 2008, but now expects to be profitable in the second half of 2008, a year ahead of its previous forecast. For the remainder of 2007, ATA expects the deal to add $3 million to $5 million in incremental revenue, and $16 million to $19 million in revenue in 2008. The deal is expected to close within 10 days.
  • Avalon Pharmaceuticals (AVRX) said that a Phase I trial of AVN944, its treatment for hematologic malignancies in elderly and refractory patients, has shown continued positive interim results. The interim data indicates AVN944 is well tolerated, has dose-dependent pharmacokinetics, induces biomarkers of programmed cell death in cancer cells from patients, and demonstrates stabilized disease in almost half of the patients after one month of treatment, the biopharmaceutical company said. Avalon also said it continues to believe the Phase I trial will provide sufficient information to begin multiple Phase II studies.
  • Brush Engineered Materials (BW) cuts its second-quarter and full year earnings forecasts, blaming weaker market conditions, manufacturing issues and "unexpected sharp movements in metal prices." The company said it now expects second-quarter earnings to come in below the low end of its previously forecasted range of 50 cents to 65 cents a share. Brush also cut its full-year earnings forecast to a range of $2 to $2.55 a share from its earlier view of $2.20 to $2.75 a share.
  • Clarcor's (CLC) second-quarter net income rose 25%to $20.9 million, or 41 cents a share, from $16.8 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier, as revenue grew 3.5%. The filtration and industrial packaging products maker's revenue for the quarter ended June 2 climbed to $235.1 million from $227.1 million in the year-ago period. On average, analysts expected per-share earnings of 37 cents on revenue of $235.9 million, according to a poll by Thomson Financial. For 2007 the company expects per-share earnings of $1.72 to $1.80 on revenue up 6%.
  • Culp's (CFI) fourth-quarter loss narrowed to $40,000, or less than a penny a share, from $1.53 million, or 13 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding restructuring and related charges, net income for the quarter ended April 29 was $1.78 million, or 14 cents a share. The maker of furniture fabrics said a weak housing market and higher gas prices affected consumer demand for its products during the quarter, but its mattress fabrics business was strong, accounting for more than half of total company sales. Sales rose 3.5% to $73.2 million from $70.7 million the year before.
  • Darden Restaurants (DRI) said it swung to a fourth-quarter net loss of a $55.1 million, or 38 cents a share, from net earnings of $92.3 million, or 60 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The restaurant operator said revenue rose to $1.46 billion from $1.41 billion, last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast, on average, per-share earnings of 70 cents on revenue of $1.57 billion. Earnings from continuing operations were 67 cents a share, vs. 62 cents a share. The company also said it expects per-share earnings growth from continuing operations of 10% to 12% for fiscal 2008.
  • Digene (DIGE) said the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted Beckman Coulter's (BEC) motion to be dismissed from Digene's ongoing patent infringement action against Ventana Medical Systems Inc. and Beckman. Digene, a diagnostic products company, said its patent suit against Ventana is continuing, and trial has been set to begin Dec. 17.
  • FedEx (FDX) is expected to post earnings of $1.96 a share for the fourth quarter.
  • FSI International (FSII) reported a third-quarter net loss of $5.64 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $2.43 million, or 8 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The microelectronics capital equipment manufacturer said that revenue fell to $25.2 million from $32 million last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast, on average, a per-share loss of 12 cents on revenue of $25 million. Additionally, FSI said it expects a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.5 million to $4.5 million on revenue of $20 million to $24 million. Orders for the quarter are expected to range between $18 million and $22 million, the company said.
  • Home Depot (HD) said it is selling its contractor-supplies business to a consortium of private-equity companies for $10.3 billion and using a big portion of the proceeds to fund a massive $22.5 billion share buyback.
  • IHS (IHS) reported second-quarter net earnings of $18.6 million, or 32 cents a share, up 44% from $12.9 million, or 23 cents a share, in the year-ago period. . Revenue for the quarter ended May 31 totaled $154.9 million, up 17% from $132.9 million in the comparable period last year. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting the provider of technical information and services to earn 33 cents a share on revenue of $150 million. IHS said it now expects fiscal 2007 revenue growth of 20% to 22% and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization growth of 30% to 32%.
  • La-Z-Boy's (LZB) swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $7.71 million, or 15 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $10.3 million, or 20 cents a share. The most recent quarter includes a restructuring charge of 8 cents a share and a gain of 14 cents a share from the sale of various properties. Sales for the period ended April 28 fell 9.4% to $406.9 million from $449.4 million. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 7 cents a share on revenue of $410 million. The furniture company estimates fiscal 2008 earnings of 45 cents to 60 cents a share, and sales down 5% to 10%.
  • Littelfuse (LFUS) cut its second-quarter and 2007 financial forecasts. The maker of circuit protection products said it now expects second-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, down from its previously forecasted range of 48 cents to 52 cents a share. Littelfuse also said it now expects second-quarter sales to be similar to those in the first quarter, after previously forecasting a 2% to 5% sequential increase. For 2007, the company forecast earnings of $1.65 to $1.75 a share, excluding items, and for sales to be similar to levels achieved in 2006. Littelfuse had previously set a 2007 earnings goal of $2 a share and forecast a 3% to 5% sales increase. "Although the prospect of a flat sales year in 2007 is disappointing, our major cost reduction projects and new product development programs remain on track," said Chief Executive Gordon Hunter in a statement. "As a result, we are still confident of achieving our 15% operating margin target by the end of 2009."
  • Microsoft (MSFT) has agreed to make changes to Vista following complaints by Google to antitrust officials that the software hampers rival desktop search programs.
  • Morgan Stanley (MS) reports second-quarter earnings of $2.45 a share.
  • Verizon (VZ) plans to announce a deal with mobile-payment company Obopay to allow subscribers to transfer money and make purchases via their mobile phones.


Market Update:

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.47%, Nikkei +0.26%, Sensex +0.81%, Taiwan +2.13% and Shanghai -2.07%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC +0.67%, DAX +0.94%, FTSE +0.47%, ATX +0.83%, Swiss Mkt. +0.38% and Stockholm +0.31%.
  • Crude oil is trading lower -0.30 to 68.80 while gold is unchanged at 664.7 this morning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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