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Lexmark Rises

Lexmark (LXK) posted $1.05, vs. 90 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 13% revenue rise. The printer maker sees 79 cents to 89 cents first-quarter earnings per share on mid-to-high single-digit revenue growth. S&P reiterated its "accumulate" ranking.

Consumer-products maker Kimberly-Clark (KMB) posted 91 cents, vs. 72 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on an 11% sales rise, and raised the quarterly dividend by 18%.

Tyson Foods (TSN) posted 16 cents, vs. 11 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 12% sales rise. The poultry and beef processor sees 90 cents to $1.20 fiscal 2004 earnings per share.

Banc of America initiated coverage of Research In Motion (RIMM) with buy and a $118 target.

Hospitality services company Sysco (SYY) posted 34 cents, vs. 28 cents second-quarter earnings per share on an 11% sales rise.

Cyberonics (CYBX) posted preliminary 6 cents third-quarter earnings per share on 3% sales growth. The company says worldwide third-quarter sales were 10% lower than its most recent guidance due to lower-than-expected U.S. epilepsy sales.

United Therapeutics (UTHR) forecasted approximately no net patient growth in the fourth quarter due to higher patient discontinuations and a year-end holiday slow down in new patient starts.

Merrill downgraded Frontier Airlines (FRNT) to "neutral," from "buy".

Seacoast Financial (SCFS) agreed to be acquired by Sovereign Bancorp (SOV) in an all-stock deal valued at about $1.1 billion. Terms: 1.4610 Sovereign shares per Seacoast share (subject to collar valuing each Seacost share at about $35).

Communications-products maker L-3 Communications (LLL) posted 94 cents, vs. 79 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 13% consolidated sales rise. L-3 sees 24% or more 2004 total sales growth, and $3.30 to $3.35 earnings per share. The company initiated a 10 cents quarterly dividend.

Credit Suisse First Boston added tax-software maker Intuit (INTU) to its "Focus List."

Schering-Plough (SGP) posted a 12 cents fourth-quarter loss per share, vs. 21 cents earnings per share one year earlier, on an 18% sales drop. The drugmaker cited unusual dynamics of its hepatitis C business and the absence of Losec revenues from Europe.

Aventis (AVE) reportedly rejected a 47.8 billion euro ($60 billion) takeover offer from Sanofi-Synthelabo. The drugmaker said the premium of 5% was too low.

Consumer-products maker Dial (DL) posted 26 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (including a 10 cents charge for the write-down of assets in Guatemala), vs. a 31 cents loss on a 3.9% net sales rise.

Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) posted 20 cents, vs. 7 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 66% net sales rise. The poultry processor sees the acquisition of ConAgra Foods' chicken division as accretive to fiscal 2004 earnings per share, revised from the previous expectation that it would dilute earnings per share.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) says its Janssen Pharmaceutica units received a subpoena from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Inspector General requesting documents related to Risperdal, a drug approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar mania.

Silicon Image (SIMGE) says it won't release fourth-quarter results on Jan. 27. It doesn't plan to release results until an examination being conducted by an internal audit committee is completed.

Italian eyeglass maker and retailer Luxottica (LUX) agreed to acquire Cole National (CNJ). Terms: $22.50 per share, for a total of $401 million.

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