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Nortel Rises

Nortel Networks (NT) was chosen by Verizon to be their voice-over-Internet-protocol service provider. Shares rose.

Circuit City (CC) posted 2% lower December same-store sales and 1.7% lower total sales. S&P cut its estimates, and keeps the hold ranking. Lehman reiterates underweight. Shares slipped.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) says December same-restaurant sales at Olive Garden rose 3% to 4%, while same-restaurant sales at Red Lobster fell 12% to 13%. S&P maintains hold. CS First Boston and JP Morgan reportedly downgraded the shares. Shares fell.

Luxury retailer Coach (COH) raised its 44 cents second-quarter earnings per share guidance to at least 48 cents, citing a 33% sales rise and margin improvement.

Duke Energy (DUK) will take a non-cash, pretax fourth-quarter charge of about $3.3 billion related to actions being taken to reduce exposure in its merchant energy and international businesses. Duke will maintain its $1.10 annual cash dividend while reducing debt by $3.5 billion to $4 billion in 2004.

Beer and wine distributor Constellation Brands (STZ) posted 73 cents, vs. 69 cents third-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 25% sales rise. Constellation sees 48 cents to 53 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (as reported), vs. a year ago's 56 cents; and $1.99 to $2.04 fiscal 2004 earnings per share, vs. $2.19 in fiscal 2003. S&P reiterates buy.

JDA Software (JDAS) sees total fourth-quarter revenue of about $55 million, software revenue of about $16.9 million, and GAAP net income per share of breakeven to 1 cent. JDA says it didn't close the number of deals that it had anticipated to close in the fourth quarter.

Papa John's International (PZZA) posted 2.5% lower December domestic systemwide comparison sales, and 16% higher December total systemwide international sales.

Bob Evans Farms (BOBE) says third-quarter earnings per share may fall "slightly" below the previous guidance of 46 cents to 48 cents. Bob Evans posted 1.7% higher December same-store sales, and says restaurant sales in its Midwestern and Northeastern markets were affected by severe winter weather.

Energen (EGN) raised the 2004 earnings per share guidance by 20 cents to a new range of $3.10 to $3.30. Energen says it has capitalized on the strength of recent natural gas and oil commodity prices by entering into additional, significant hedges for 2004.

Guitar Center (GTRC) says based on sales performance during the holiday season, it raised the fourth-quarter earnings per share guidance to a range of 74 cents to 75 cents. The company says fourth-quarter comparison Guitar Center store sales rose 10%, and total net sales rose 18%.

Mentor Graphics (MENT) says fourth-quarter GAAP earnings per share, previously guided to 14 cents, will be negatively affected by pre-tax charges and other factors totaling 14 cents per share. Mentor maintains the 80 cents 2004 GAAP earnings per share guidance.

Wellpoint Health (WLP) raised its $6.00 2003 earnings per share guidance to $6.15, and upped its $6.90 to $7.00 2004 earnings per share guidance to $7.10.

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