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WellPoint Shares Fall

WellPoint (WLP) posted 92 cents, vs. $1.47 fourth-quarter earnings per share (including items) on a 59% rise in total operating revenue. The company sees $1.82 first-quarter earnings per share and $7.75 2005 earnings per share on operating revenue of about $45.7 billion. S&P reiterates strong buy and raises its target price.

Merck (MRK) records show an external committee monitoring Vioxx's safety in clinical trial had early data suggesting users could be at increased risk of heart problems after just 4 months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Hasbro (HAS) posted lower-than-expected 44 cents, vs. 41 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on flat revenue. The company cites tougher a retail environment and disappointing performance in the U.S. Toys segment.

Japanese electronics giants Matsushita (MC) and Hitachi (HIT) agree to join forces in the plasma display panel business to stay competitive.

Chinese web portal (SOHU) posted 17 cents, vs. 28 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite a 68% revenue rise. The company sees 14 cents to 16 cents first-quarter earnings per share on revenue of $22.5 million to $23.5 million.

Humana (HUM) posted better-than-expected 29 cents, vs. 41 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite a 1.8% revenue rise. The health insurer raised its $1.95 2005 earnings per share guidance to about $2.05. The company cites an anticipated positive impact of federal income tax gain contingency.

Aircraft component manufacturer Goodrich (GR) posted 30 cents, vs. 19 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 12% sales rise.

Piper Jaffray says Blue Nile (NILE) fourth-quarter results may not sparkle and reiterates market perform. The company is scheduled to post fourth-quarter results Tuesday after the market closes.

The New York Post reports Oshkosh B'Gosh (GOSHA) interviewed investment banks to help it explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale, sources familiar with the situation said.

Bear Stearns cuts Synaptics (SYNA) $53 calendar year-end price target to $49.

Pharmaceutical company Axonyx (AXYX) says its first Phase III clinical trial with Phenserine, in development for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, showed no statistically significant improvement over placebo in primary endpoints.

Syneron Medical (ELOS) posted 30 cents, vs. 6 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 47% revenue rise. The company raises 2005 revenue guidance to $78 million to $80 million from $75 million. It says 2005 revenue guidance is set at $17 million to $18 million and plans to offer about 8 million shares.

America Service (ASGR) sees about 43 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share and about 82 cents earnings per share for 2004. The company sees $1.42 to $1.53 2005 earnings per share on revenue of $600 million to $700 million.

Regis (RGS) posted flat January same-store sales and 14% higher total revenue.

Owens & Minor (OMI) raised its quarterly dividend 18%.

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