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Jabil Circuit Rises

Banc of America upgraded electronic manufacturing services provider Jabil Circuit (JBL) to buy from neutral, on expectations that new business will drive better than expected results in 2004.

King Pharmaceuticals (KG) says an FDA letter to all abbreviated new-drug application applicants for a generic equivalent to King's Skelaxin 400mg states that applicants may delete the use listed in the FDA's publication for the U.S. patent from their product labeling.

Aetna (AET) raised the $1.50 to $1.55 first-quarter operating earnings per share guidance to $1.68 to $1.73, and raised the $6.25 to $6.35 2003 estimate to $6.60 to $6.75. The health insurer cited favorable trends in medical and pharmacy membership, moderate medical costs, and operating expense efficiency. S&P upgraded to buy. Goldman Sachs raised its estimates.

Verity (VRTY) posted 13 cents, vs. 13 cents third-quarter earnings per share (pro forma) as more shares offset a 9.7% revenue rise. The provider of Web infrastructure products sees 9 cents to 12 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (pro forma), and 39 cents to 42 cents in fiscal 2004. S&P ties the stock's weakness to Verity's outlook. Thomas Weisel cut its target.

Merrill Lynch upgraded Citrix Systems (CTXS) to buy from neutral. See Pg. 5

VaxGen (VXGN) is seen higher on reports that the U.S. government is seeking more anthrax vaccines.

Electronics Boutique (ELBO) posted $1.57, vs. $1.21 fourth-quarter earnings per share on better than expected 2% higher same-store sales, and 26% higher total sales. The video-game software retailer sees $1.85 to $1.95 fiscal 2005 earnings per share on 2% to 4% higher comparisons. S&P keeps accumulate.

Idexx Laboratories (IDXX) raised the first-quarter earnings per share guidance to 43 cents to 47 cents on revenue of $130 million to $133 million. Idexx sees $1.92 to $1.96 2004 earnings per share estimate on revenue of $530 million to $533 million.

JP Morgan upgraded Dell (DELL) to overweight from neutral. Morgan Stanley upgraded to overweight from equal-weight.

Aeropostale (ARO) posted 71 cents, vs. 46 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 8.5% higher same-store sales, and 32% higher total sales. The retailer sees 9 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and $1.72 to $1.73 fiscal 2005 earnings per share on mid-single-digit comparable-store sales gains. Aeropostale upped the stock-buyback program to $70 million. Wachovia raised its estimates and price target.

Database-software maker Oracle (ORCL) posted 12 cents, vs. 11 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a 9% revenue rise. The results were in line with Wall Street estimates. First Albany upgraded Oracle to buy from neutral.

PetCo (PETC) posted 36 cents, vs. 33 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 5.6% higher same-store sales, and 12% higher total sales. PetCo sees 24 cents to 25 first-quarter earnings per share on 5% to 6% higher comp-store sales, and $1.45 to $1.46 fiscal 2005 earnings per share. CIBC World downgraded to sector perform.

Education-software company SkillSoft (SKIL) sees fourth-quarter revenue slightly above the $51 million to $53 million guidance on stronger than expected reseller sell-through. SkillSoft expects fourth-quarter earnings per share will modestly exceed the 4 cents to 5 cents guidance, and expects the fiscal 2004 loss to be narrower than the 83 cents to 84 cents guidance.

Alcide (ALCD) agreed to be acquired by Ecolab in a stock deal valuing each Alcide share at $21.

Chartered Semiconductor (CHRT) expects "moderately" higher revenues and an improved net loss for first-quarter. It now sees first-quarter revenue, excluding its share of Silicon Manufacturing Partners, up about 23% to 25% sequentially. Morgan Stanley upgraded to overweight.

Chip-equipment maker Altera (ALTR) expects first-quarter revenue at the high end of its previous target of 6% to 8% sequential growth.

The board of Maxwell Shoe (MAXS) unanimously decided to reject Jones Apparel's (JNY) proposal to acquire all shares of Maxwell for $20 per share in cash.

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