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Stocks To Watch: Alcoa, Blackstone, Chesapeake Energy, GE, Nordstrom

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

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Stocks to watch for Friday, July 13:

  • Alcoa (AA) said it has withdrawn its $27 billion offer for Alcan after Rio Tinto came forward with a higher bid, dashing speculation the metals giants could get into a bidding war over the world's third-largest aluminum producer.
  • Blackstone (BX) said in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it would apply a strategy that requires new shareholders to return to the founders most of the value of tax benefits created when the original partners sold a portion of their interest in the company. This would allow the company to avoid paying a corporate interest rate of up to 35%.
  • Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and Anadarko Petroleum (APC) said they have completed multiple agreements, including a joint venture involving Chesapeake and Anadarko assets in the Deep Haley area of the Delaware Basin in West Texas. The companies said they will jointly evaluate and explore more than 1 million acres in the Deep Haley area. Under the agreement, Anadarko received $310 million in cash and other consideration, including reimbursement of capital expenditures, and 50% of certain Chesapeake non-producing leasehold interests in Loving County, Texas. In addition, Chesapeake received, among other items, 25% of Anadarko's existing Deep Haley area production; 25% of Anadarko's leasehold in the central and eastern portions of the Deep Haley area; 50% of Anadarko's leasehold and contractual rights in the western portion of the Deep Haley area; and Oklahoma City real estate assets acquired by Anadarko last year as part of its acquisition of Kerr-McGee.
  • Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings (CME) and CBOT Holdings (BOT) said they have completed the merger of their companies. The combined company, CME Group, a CME/Chicago Board of Trade, will trade on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "CME," the companies said. CME agreed to acquire CBOT in a deal valued at almost $12 billion in cash and stock. The companies' shareholders approved the deal on Monday.
  • Electro Scientific Industries (ESIO) fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 33% to $7.9 million, or 27 cents a share, from $5.93 million, or 20 cents a share, a year earlier. The maker of laser systems said revenue for the quarter ended June 2 grew 24% to $71.7 million from $57.9 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected, on average, earnings of 25 cents a share and revenue of $66 million. For the upcoming four-month reporting period, the company expects shipments and revenue of about $85 million to $95 million, excluding the impact from the acquisition of New Wave Research.
  • Fremont General (FMT) said it has named Ronald Nicolas Jr. as treasurer, chief financial officer and chief accounting officer, succeeding Patrick Lamb, who resigned July 9. Fremont General is a financial services holding company.
  • GE's (GE) net income rose 9.6%, despite a loss in its subprime-mortgage business, as the conglomerate posted big gains in its infrastructure and consumer finance units.
  • IHOP's (IHP) second-quarter same-store sales rose 2.5% despite a declining number of customers because of price increases in 2006. The restaurant chain said it is on track to meet its goal of 2% to 4% same-store sales growth for the year. IHOP's shares closed Thursday up $1.16, or 2.1%, at $56.22.
  • Nordstrom (JWN) is near a deal to sell its Faconnable apparel and retail line to M1 Group for slightly more than $200 million, according to a media report late Thursday. The terms of the transaction aren't final and the deal could still fall apart. Nordstrom paid $350 million for the company in 2000.
  • Paychex (PAYX) boosted its quarterly dividend 43% to 30 cents from 21 cents. The provider of payroll and human resources services said the dividend is payable August 15 to shareholders of record August 1. Separately, Paychex intends to repurchase up to $1 billion of its stock, the company said.
  • Spectrum Brands (SPC) said it now expects full-year 2007 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $260 million to $264 million, down from its previous EBITDA forecast of $282 million. The consumer products company also said it sees 2007 net sales of $2.63 billion, down from its prior view of $2.65 billion. The company said it lowered projections due to unfavorable weather conditions in the fiscal third quarter, particularly the impact of drought conditions across much of the country, as well as lower-than-expected European battery sales and a cautious outlook on the part of U.S. retailers regarding inventory levels. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial are currently forecasting, on average, 2007 per-share earnings of 5 cents a share on revenue of $2.04 billion.
  • Standard & Poor's said that Warnaco Group (WRNC) will replace Lear (LEA) in the S&P MidCap 400 index after the close of trading on a date to be announced. Lear is being acquired by American Real Estate Partners (ACP) in a deal still pending final approvals. New York-based Warnaco is a designer, manufacturer and distributor of apparel, sportswear and swimwear.

Market Update:

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +1.27%, Nikkei +1.42, Sensex +1.20%, Taiwan +1.25% and Shanghai -0.04%.
  • A quick look towards Europe finds the CAC +0.51%, DAX +0.70%, FTSE +0.36%, ATX +0.15%, Swiss Mkt. +0.59% and Stockholm +0.21%.
  • Crude oil is trading higher +0.37 to 72.87 this morning while gold is up +0.8 to 669.1.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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