Advanced Micro Jumps on an Analyst Upgrade

Lexmark soars; Computer Sciences rises; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Bear Stearns raised its estimates on chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD ), on a more positive outlook for flash-memory chip orders. AMD also rose on a report by research firm Gartner that forecast a 20% rise in semiconductor sales in 2004.

UBS Warburg upgraded printer maker Lexmark (LXK ) to buy from neutral, citing the potential for more a benign inkjet pricing environment into 2004, and continued upside to estimates.

Computer Sciences (CSC ) posted 57 cents (including a 3 cents after-tax charge), vs. 54 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 32% revenue rise. The information-technology consulting firm sees 68 cents to 70 cents third-quarter earnings per share on $3.6 billion in revenue. S&P reiterates accumulate. CS First Boston and J.P. Morgan upgraded.

Web-conferencing technology firm Latitude Communications (LATD ) agreed to be acquired by Cisco Systems (CSCO ) in an $80 million deal. The terms are $3.95 cash per Latitude share.

Standard & Poor's Ratings cut its debt rating on Ford Motor (F ) to "BBB-", or one notch above "junk." Although this is the lowest possible investment grade rating, the market was relieved that S&P hadn't issued a negative outlook on the automaker.

Lexicon Genetics (LEXG ) says a study identifying a novel gene target for the control of high blood pressure, detailing creation of the largest gene-trap library, has been published in the online Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an academic journal.

IPayment (IPMT ) posted 29 cents, vs. 12 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a sharp revenue rise. The provider of credit-card processing services says it's comfortable with its estimates of $1.06 to $1.12 2003 earnings per share and $255 million to $265 million in revenue.

HPSC (HDR ), a financier of heathcare providers, agreed to be acquired by General Electric's (GE ) GE Healthcare Financial Services for $14.50 per share.

Jewlery retailer Friedman's (FRM ) says allowance for doubtful accounts on its balance sheet as of Sept. 27 will increase above previous expectations. Wedbush Morgan downgraded to sell from buy.

AG Edwards downgraded industrial-ceramics maker Ceradyne (CRDN ) to sell from hold on valuation.

Goldman Sachs upgraded Brocade Communications (BRCD ) to outperform from in-line.

Laser-systems maker Coherent (COHR ) posted an 86 cents fourth-quarter loss, vs. an 8 cents loss from continuing operations as restructuring and impairment charges related to facilities and equipment offset a 2.4% net sales rise. S&P downgraded to hold from accumulate.

VaxGen (VXGN ) says preliminary results from a Phase III clinical trial in Thailand to evaluate AIDSVAX B/E, an investigational vaccine for the prevention of HIV infection, did not meet its targets. VaxGen also is developing vaccines for smallpox and anthrax.

Columbia Laboratories (COB ), a developer of women's healthcare and fertility products, posted a 11 cents third-quarter loss, vs. a 5 cents loss as higher costs and expenses offset a sharp sales rise. Due to a slower-than-expected adoption of products, Columbia sees a 14 cents to 17 cents fourth-quarter loss, and a 50 cents to 54 cents 2003 loss. The company also sees 2004 results ranging from a loss of 15 cents per share to 9 cents earnings per share.

Faro Technologies (FARO ) and two co-founders entered an agreement with various institutional investors for a $40.4 million private placement of its common stock. Faro will sell 1.128 million shares, and the co-founders will sell 752,000 shares, for $21.50 per share.

Merck (MRK ) halted a Phase III clinical development program for its substance P antagonist investigational product, MK-0869, as the compound failed to demonstrate efficacy for the treatment of depression.

Citigroup upgraded Nokia (NOK ) to buy from hold, citing better volumes in the market and more modest declines in average selling prices for the handsets.

Delta Air Lines (DAL ) raised its loss forecast for the fourth quarter to incorporate a non-cash charge related to its piliot pension plan. Delta also will record a non-cash charge that will reduce the equity related to its defined benefit pension plans. The airline plans to suspend payment of its dividend on its Series B ESOP convertible preferred stock.

PacifiCare Health (PHS ) cut the $1.02 to $1.07 fourth-quarter earnings per share guidance to 59 cents to 64 cents, and cut the 2003 estimate to $6.00 to $6.05. The revision reflects costs associated with the redemption of senior notes and a stock offering.

Federated Department Stores (FD ) posted 36 cents, vs. 38 cents (continuing operations) third-quarter earnings per share despite slightly higher same-store sales. The company notes earnings per share were better than expected, driven by an improving sales trend. Federated reaffirmed the $2.15 to $2.20 fourth-quarter earnings per share guidance.

Eastman Kodak (EK ) is in deals with Cingular and Nokia that will provide mobile imaging services to help people store, share, organize, and print their digital images.

Too (TOO ) posted 13 cents, vs. 31 cents third-quarter earnings per share on 17% lower same-store sales. The retailer sees 50 cents to 60 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, and sees same-store sales ranging from negative to the mid to high single digits.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF ) posted 51 cents, vs. 48 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a 6% net sales rise. A&F sees fourth-quarter earnings per share flat with fourth-quarter fiscal 2003.

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