Schlumberger Soars

Automatic Data climbs; J2 Global drops; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Schlumberger (SLB ) posted 40 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations, vs. a $5.04 loss, on 11% revenue rise. Merrill Lynch upgraded to buy, from neutral. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Automatic Data Processing (ADP ) posted 38 cents, vs. 43 cents second-quarter earnings per share despite an 8.9% total revenue rise. ADP narrowed the $1.50-$1.60 fiscal 2004 earnings per share guidance to $1.53-$1.58. Morgan Stanley reportedly upgraded to equal-weight from underweight.

J2 Global Communications (JCOM ) says it expects 2004 earnings per share of $1.00-$1.15, which is below the consensus estimate, on revenue of $100 million to $105 million.

RBC Capital upgraded Hyperion Solutions (HYSL ) to outperform. WR Hambrecht upgraded to buy. The software maker posted 21 cents, vs. 16 cents

Union Planters (UPC ) agreed to merge with Regions Financial (RF ). Terms: Each Union Planters share will be converted into 1 share of a new company; each Regions Financial share will be converted into 1.2346 shares of the new company. The new company plans a quarterly dividend of 3334. S&P upgraded Union Planters to hold.

Visteon (VC ) posted a $6.87 fourth-quarter loss, vs. 27 cents, on a 1.8% revenue drop. Visteon notes fourth-quarter 2003 included special charges of $756 million. The car parts maker sees 5 cents to 15 cents first-quarter 2004 earnings per share on $4.8 billion to $4.9 billion in revenue. It also sees 50 cents to $1.00 2004 earnings per share on $18.6 billion to $18.8 billion in 2004 revenue.

Scientific-Atlanta (SFA ) posted 33 cents, vs. 10 cents second-quarter earnings per share on an 18% sales rise. UBS Financial upgraded to neutral from reduce. S&P reiterates hold.

Microsoft (MSFT ) shares were slightly higher in pre-market trading Friday after the company posted 14 cents, vs. 17 cents second-quarter earnings per share (including a stock-based compensation expense) on a 19% revenue rise. The software giant sees 23 cents to 24 cents third-quarter earnings per share on $8.6 billion to $8.7 billion in third-quarter revenue, as well as 82 cents to 83 cents fiscal 2004 earnings per share on increased revenue guidance of $35.6 billion to $35.9 billion. S&P reiterates buy.

Fortune Brands (FO ) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.03, vs. 86 cents. Excluding items, Fortune posted an operating profit of $1.07 per share -- 4 cents ahead of analysts' average estimates. Sales rose 15.7% to $1.66 billion. The consumer brands firm says it's comfortable with the target for double-digit earnings growth in the first quarter and fiscal 2004.

Corning (GLW ) posted a 2 cents fourth-quarter loss, vs. a 60 cents loss, on an 11% revenue rise. Corning expects first-quarter sales of $770 million to $830 million, with earnings per share of 4 cents to 5 cents, before special items.

Boeing (BA ) said the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense reportedly is expected to award a 13 billion British pound ($24 billion) contract for refueling aircraft to a consortium led by Boeing rival European Aeronautic Defence & Space. S&P reiterates buy.

Halliburton (HAL ) told the Pentagon that two employees took up to $6 million in kickbacks in return for awarding a Kuwaiti company with lucrative work supplying U.S. troops according to The Wall Street Journal .

Lattice Semiconductor (LSCC ) plans to release fourth-quarter and 2003 results in the second-half of February. Lattice says management recently became aware of a possible overstatement of its deferred income account.

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