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Markets & Finance

Hotels Take a hit

CIBC World is cautious on McDonald's (MCD), saying it doesn't believe the Street has fully factored in a likely negative impact of strategy changes to domestic store margins.

Merrill Lynch downgraded Argosy Gaming (AGY) to neutral from buy.

Thomas Weisel cut Starwood Hotels (HOT) and Hilton Hotels (HLT) to market perform from attractive.

Prudential downgraded Pixar (PIXR) to hold from buy.

Midwest Express (MEH) sees a $0.50-$0.60 Q3 loss vs. the previous $0.22 loss guidance, citing higher fuel prices, declining business fares, and lower business travel demand.

UST (UST) says due to the slowing moist smokeless tobacco category growth, and higher marketing costs, its expects 2002 EPS to be about 3% lower than the previous $2.95 guidance.

According to press reports, the Manhattan district attorney and the SEC plan to bring new criminal and civil charges against Tyco 's (TYC) former CEO, and two other former executives on Thursday. Separately, JP

Morgan upgraded to buy from long term buy. On Wednesday the company named David FitzPatrick as CFO.

Philips Electronics (PHG) expects Q3 semi sales to be 12%-14% above a year ago; and will be impacted by unfavorable foreign exchange. The company says adjustments to bring capacity more in line with market demand could result in charges of about EUR 200M- EUR 225M.

Steel Dynamics (STLD) says Q3 EPS may approach $0.60, and could exceed that in Q4. Steel Dynamics cited higher average consolidated selling price per ton and strong demand in flat-rolled steel. The company will defer its planned equity offering.

CS First Boston downgraded Molex (MOLX) to underperform from outperform.

According to press reports, France Telecom (FTE) will name Thomson Multimedia's Thierry Breton as its new chairman and CEO. The company will advise its board to stop funding its MobilCom affiliate; and is leaning toward a $14.3B rights offering.

Wireless stocks including AT&T Wireless (AWE) may see upside Thursday on the news that the FCC has decided to free wireless carriers of their obligation to potentially pay the $16B they bid last year for NextWave's spectrum licenses.

MDU Resources (MDU) sees $1.60-$1.80 2002 EPS, excluding the benefit of a $16.6M after-tax non-recurring compromise agreement announced in Q1. MDU sees $1.80-$2.05 for 2003.

DuPont Photomask (DPMI) reaffirmed that cash on hand, and any cash provided by operations will be sufficient to meet cash requirements for at least the next 12 months.

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