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Hewlett-Packard Profit Beats Forecast

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) posts third-quarter earnings per share (non-GAAP basis) of 36 cents, above analysts' forecast and up from 24 cents a year ago, on a 10% revenue rise. The computer company sees 44-47 cents fourth-quarter EPS on revenue of $22.4 billion to $22.8 billion. S&P raises estimates and keeps hold recommendation. First Albany, Prudential, and Banc of America upgrade the stock.

Applied Materials (AMAT) posts 23 cents, vs. 26 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on a 27% sales decline. The chip equipment maker notes new orders declined 40% year-over-year and 5% quarter-over-quarter. S&P maintains buy. Needham says the company's fourth-quarter EPS guidance of 13-14 cents and new orders guidance is positive.

Nordstrom (JWN) posts 53 cents, vs. 37 cents, second-quarter earnings per share on 6.2% higher same-store sales and a 7.8% rise in revenue. The upscale retailer increased its fiscal year 2006 EPS estimate to $1.80-$1.90 from $1.70-$1.75; and sees third-quarter EPS of 30-35 cents. S&P reiterates buy.

Sprint Nextel (S) is preparing to acquire Nextel Partners (NXTP) in the next few weeks, according to people familiar with situation. Though talks are still under way, people familiar with company say a deal could fetch about $30 a share, according to

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) posts lower-than-expected 63 cents, vs. 44 cents, second-quarter earnings per share on 30% higher same-store sales and 42% higher sales. The apparel retailer ups fiscal year 2006 EPS guidance to $3.10-$3.30. It sets a 6 million share buyback. S&P reiterates buy on possible weakness.

Borders Group (BGP) posts 2 cents, vs. 10 cents, second-quarter earnings per share as higher costs offset 1.8% higher same-store sales and 5.3% higher total sales. The book chain says international segment is challenging. It sees 8-12 cents third-quarter loss per share and $1.60-$1.70 fiscal year 2006 EPS.

Photronics (PLAB) posts 35 cents, vs. 23 cents, third-quarter earnings per share on an 11% rise in revenue. It cites overall demand for photomask technology and services remain robust. It notes that revenue was at the lower end of company expectations resulting from a short-term operating issue.

Blue Coat Systems (BCSI) posts first-quarter earnings per share (GAAP basis) of 24 cents, vs. 13 cents, on a 58% revenue rise. The company sees second-quarter EPS of 23-28 cents on 9%-12% sequential revenue rise. Raymond James upgrades to strong buy from outperform.

Charming Shoppes (CHRS) posts 30 cents, vs. 21 cents, second-quarter earnings per share on 3% same-store sales rise and 13% total sales rise. The retailer notes solid improvements in operating margin. It sees 7-8 cents third-quarter EPS. It raises 69-73 cents fiscal year 2006 EPS guidance to 73-75 cents.

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