Big Mo Gains on Court Ruling

Citigroup, JP Morgan shares drop on downgrade; P&G boosts profit outlook; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Philip Morris (MO ) shares closed higher Monday. The company says a California Supreme Court ruling, which gives tobacco makers limited protection from smoker lawsuits, could provide additional grounds to overturn three recent verdicts in smoking cases.

Procter & Gamble (PG ) reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter core EPS of $0.77, vs. $0.63 a year ago, on 6% sales growth driven by its health care and beauty lines. The company raised its forecast for the first quarter to 11% to 15% EPS (core) growth on 4% to 6% sales growth and 8% to 10% volume growth.

Cablevision (CVC ) will exchange all Cablevision Rainbow Media Group (RMG ) stock for shares of Cablevision. Terms: 1.19 CVC shares for each RMG share.

Thomas Weisel downgraded PepsiCo (PEP ) to market perform from buy.

Morgan Stanley cut its estimates on Cigna (CI ), saying the enrollment outlook remains weak. On Aug. 2, Cigna posted $1.95 vs. $1.73 Q2 operating EPS on 6.6% higher revenues.

Shares of Cognizant Tech Solutions (CTSH ) are seen lower on a Center for Financial Research & Analysis (CFRA) report questioning whether the company was cutting into expenses to meet EPS estimates.

Spanish Broadcasting (SBSA ) posted $0.06 vs. $0.05 Q2 free cash flow per share on 13% higher revenues.

Merrill cut its estimates on Four Seasons (FS ), citing weak business travel. On Aug. 2, the company posted C$0.48 vs. C$0.72 Q2 EPS on a 10% revenue drop.

Shaw Group (SGR ) will acquire all assets of the LSP-Pike Energy project in exchange for forgiveness of current sums owed to the companY by NRG Energy, and payment of $43 million by Shaw to NRG. S&P cut Shaw to hold.

Wachovia downgraded Clear Channel (CCU ), Radio One (ROIAK ), and Cox Radio (CXR ) to buy from strong buy. The firm also downgraded Emmis Communications (EMMS ) and Saga Communications (SGA ) to hold from buy.

CS First Boston downgraded COX Communications (COX ) to hold from strong buy.

Lehman Brothers changed its rating system. The firm now rates JP Morgan (JPM ) and Citigroup (C ) equal weight; they were rated strong buy. Lehman also cut its price targets on the two issues.

Mirant (MIR ) says it is not surprised by a letter from the Atlanta district office of the SEC informing the company of informal inquiry, which was prompted by the company's disclosure of three accounting issues in its 2001 financial statements.

Goldman reportedly removes Paychex (PAYX ) from its recommended list, and now rates the stock market perform.

Hovnanian (HOV ) sees fiscal 2002 EPS significantly exceeding the high end of analysts' $3.10-$3.35 estimate range. The company cites above-forecast sales and increasing prices in selected markets.

Shares of United Microelectronics (UMC ) were down in pre-market trading in a follow-through of weakness in Asian semiconductors shares on worries over the U.S. economy and fears the chip equipment sector's nascent recovery may be stalling.

According to a Barron's article, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD ) boasts "truly extraordinary" new products that promise to speed the company's recovery and allow it to do battle with arch rival Intel (INTC ) in ways never before possible.

Akzo Nobel's (AKZOY ) Coatings unit agreed to acquire Ferro Corp.'s (FOE ) powder coatings businesses in the Americas and Asia Pacific.

Avocent (AVCT ) will acquire 2C Computing for $22.8 million in cash.

Capital Auto (CARS ) will be added to the S&P SmallCap 600 index after the close of trading on Aug. 5, replacing HNC Software, which is being acquired.

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