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Time Warner Climbs

Time Warner (TWX) rose on news that Sony (SNE) finalized an agreement to merge its music business with Germany's Bertelsmann, making it the second-largest record label in the world. The deal ignited speculation of industry consolidation; last month, Time Warner signed an agreement to sell its Warner Music business to a group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. for $2.6 billion. However, analysts says Time Warner's upbeat comments at a media conference earlier this week have been well-received.

United Technologies (UTX) says it remains on track to achieve the previously anticipated 2003 earnings per share guidance of $4.65, and expects 2004 earnings per share within $5.00 to $5.30 range estimated by analysts on about a 10% revenue rise.

Halliburton (HAL) denied accusations by the Pentagon that it may have overcharged the U.S. government by up to $61 million for fuel and other items as part of their work in Iraq. President Bush says the energy-services company should reimburse the government if the Pentagon confirms the charges. Seperately, Halliburton said it may be close to settling costly asbestos ligitation. S&P upgraded to accumulate, from hold.

Rambus (RMBS) agreed to acquire Velio Communications to acquire certain Velio high-speed signaling assets. Rambus plans to integrate these assets into its RaSer product line.

AaiPharma (AAII) says based upon current business performance and the overall outlook, it expects $1.45 to $1.52 2004 earnings per share, and $340 million to $355 million in revenue.

UBS Financial reportedly downgraded Ciena (CIEN) to reduce from neutral. On Thursday the company posted a 24 fourth-quarter loss, vs. a $1.75 loss (GAAP) on a 14% revenue rise.

USB Piper upgraded Oxford Industries (OXM) to strong buy from outperform.

Roth Capital initiated coverage on Eclipsys (ECLP) with strong buy.

Technitrol (TNL) sees $501 million to $505 million 2003 revenue, and 67 cents to 69 cents 2003 earnings per share excluding severance and asset impairment charges. Technitrol sees $535 million to $540 million in 2004 revenue, and 80 cents to 83 cents earnings per share excluding severance and asset impairment charges.

Adobe Systems (ADBE) posted 34 cents, vs. 17 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 22% revenue rise, beating expectations. Adobe sees 33 cents to 36 cents first-quarter earnings per share on revenue of $360 million to $380 million.

Verity (VRTY) posted better-than-expected 9 cents, vs. 7 cents second-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 26% revenue rise. The company sees 10 cents to 12 cents third-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on revenue of $29 million to $31 million, and sees 35 cents to 39 cents fiscal 2004 earnings per share (GAAP) on $114.5 million to $119.5 million revenue. McDonald upgraded to buy. S&P keeps avoid.

SoundView upgraded Brooks Automation (BRKS) to outperform from neutral.

Electronic Data (EDS) reportedly lost a 3 billion British pound ($5.2 billion) 10-year contract to provide information-technology services to British tax authority Inland Revenue Service.Cap Gemini Ernst & Young won the contract.

Chinadotcom (CHINA) intends to reorganize its mobile and portal unit as a wholly-owned subsidiary, chinadotcom Mobile Interactive Corp. (CDC Mobile) and register an offering of CDC Mobile's American Depositary Shares.

China Life Insurance raised $3 billion in the year's biggest initial public offering after pricing its shares at 3.625 Hong Kong dollars ($0.47). China Life, which is also listing in the U.S., will begin trading in New York on Wednesday, Dec. 17 and in Hong Kong the following day.

Citigroup (C) could face questions abnout its financing arrangement with Parmalat as the Italian company risks defaulting on its bonds, according to The Wall Street Journal .

Research In Motion (RIMM) announced its addition to the Nasdaq-100, effective Dec. 22.

New Century Financial (NCEN) will increase its quarterly cash dividend to 16 cents, from 10 cents, or 60%.

Applebee's (APPB) raised its annual dividend by 17% and set a $80 million share buyback.

Schering AG (SHR) received approval from 15 European countries to market Finacea 15% Gel for the topical treatment of papulopustular rosacea, a skin condition.

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