IBM Ends Lower after Warning

Merrill is ordered to reform corporate ratings; SEC ends Polymedica investigation; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Polymedica (PLMD ) says an SEC investigation has been terminated; SEC doesn't recommend enforcement action.

A New York Attorney General's office reportedly ordered Merrill Lynch (MER ) to overhaul its corporate ratings.

IBM Corp. (IBM ) reportedly sees lower than expected $0.66-$0.70 vs. $0.98 Q1 EPS. The company cited a tough business environment and a slowdown in customer spending decisions. Separately, IBM said it will lay off 600 customer engineers in its Global Services operations in the U.S., according to press reports. S&P downgraded to accumulate from buy. Thomas Weisel cut estimates.

RBC Capital downgraded Electronic Data Systems (EDS ) to underperform from sector perform.

Intuit (INTU ) raised Q3 EPS (pro forma) about $0.05, and expects revenue to be at higher end of current $520M-$544M range. S&P reiterates buy.

JP Morgan downgraded Interpublic (IPG ) to long-term buy from buy, and sees disappointing revenue growth in the first half of 2002.

First Albany downgraded F5 Networks (FFIV ) to neutral from buy. On Friday the company forecast a $0.06-$0.08 loss vs. a $0.04-$0.06 loss target.

Lehman reportedly upgraded Sycamore (SCMR ) to strong buy from market perform.

Ameritrade (AMTD ) reportedly agreed to acquire Datek Online Holdings for about $1.3B in stock. Separately, Ameritrade sees $105M-$110M Q2 revenue.

Computer Associates (CA ) sees a Q4 operatingg loss improving from its prior guidance of a $0.04-$0.05 loss on $770M revenue (GAAP basis).

Reliant Resources (RRI ) says the SEC is conducting an informal inquiry of facts and circumstances surrounding the company's recent restatement of Q2 and Q3 EPS.

Standard Microsystems (SMSC ) posted $0.04 Q4 EPS vs. breakeven from continuing operations on a 3.3% revenue rise, and expects Q1 fiscal 2003 income from continuing operations to be modestly positive vs. a $0.10 loss a year ago.

Kenneth Cole (KCP ) sees $92M Q1 revenues, and $0.26 EPS vs. previous guidance of $88M-$92M revenue, and $0.16-$0.18 EPS.

Sports Authority (TSA ) sees Q1 EPS from operations slightly positive vs. a $0.16 loss last year, and raised its $0.60 fiscal 2002 EPS forecast to the $0.65 range, citing solid mid-single digit percent same store sales for Q1 and stronger than planned margins.

Big Lots (BLI ) posted 24% March higher same store sales, and 30% higher total sales. The company notes that the benefit from the early Easter, a shift of one advertising circular from April into March, and March being a fiscal four-week period.

Liberty Media (L ) set a buyback of 25M shares of its Series A stock, and 1M shares of Series B stock, at a price of $13 per share.

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