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Stocks to Watch: Darden Restaurants, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Lehman, Wal-Mart

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

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Stocks to watch for Wednesday, September 19, 2007:

  • Atari (ATAR) said Tuesday evening it has filed its Form 10-K for fiscal year 2007 with the SEC. The video game publisher said in June that the filing would be delayed as it determined the amount of a fourth-quarter goodwill impairment charge.
  • Countrywide Financial (CFC) plans to double the amount of its branch offices offering certificates of deposits and money-market accounts. Countrywide has about 112 such offices and aims to double that over the next four to six months.
  • Darden Restaurants (DRI) reported first-quarter earnings of $105.9 million, or 72 cents a share, up from $88.5 million, or 59 cents a share, a year ago. Sales rose to $1.47 billion from $1.36 billion. Earnings from continuing operations came to 73 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 70 cents a share on revenue of $1.46 billion.
  • Dress Barn (DBRN) reported fiscal fourth-quarter net earnings of $33.6 million, or 48 cents a share, compared with $24.4 million, or 35 cents a share, last year. Sales rose to $379.9 million from $343.3 million. Analysts expected earnings of 42 cents a share on sales of $377 million. The company also forecast 2008 earnings of $1.40 to $1.50 a share, below Wall Street's estimate of $1.53 a share.
  • General Electric (GE) said it would take a hit of $300 million to $400 million related to its planned exit from the subprime market, saying the charge was part of several one-time losses that would be largely offset by gains from the $11.6 billion sale of the company's plastics division.
  • Goldman Sachs (GS) announced it won't close its flagship Global Alpha hedge fund or inject any of its own money into it. In a letter to the fund's investors, GS promised to better handle borrowing and volatility, to lessen the size of the fund and to "adjust our process."
  • Lehman's (LEH) profit fell 3.2% from the last-year period to $887 mln for the fiscal third quarter on big write-downs of mortgage securities and leveraged buyout loans, though the numbers managed to beat analyst expectations.
  • Wal-Mart's (WMT) health coverage plan for 2008 will reflect the low-premium, high deductable plan it had last year. Its employees will have the option to choose from plans ranging from an $8 monthly premium and $2,000 deductible for those who anticipate needing only minimal medical care to a premium of $94.11 and deductible of $350 for those needing more. The premiums are lower in some locations.


Market Update

  • Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +3.98%, Nikkei +3.67%, Sensex +4.17%, Taiwan +0.30% and Shanghai -0.55%.
  • A quick check towards Europe finds the CAC +2.56%, DAX +1.89%, FTSE +2.32%, ATX +3.22%, Swiss Mkt. +2.28% and Stockholm +3.02%.
  • Crude oil is higher +0.61 to 82.12 this morning and gold is also up +7.5 to 731.2 this morning.

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