Oracle Hit with Antitrust Suit

Genentech soars; Ralph Lauren shares advance; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Genentech (DNA ) says the FDA approved its Avastin to be used in combination with intravenous 5-Fluorouracil-based chemotherapy as a treatment for metastatic cancer of the colon or rectum.

Merrill Lynch upgraded Polo Ralph Lauren (RL ) to buy from neutral. Late Wednesday, 9.19 million shares were priced at $31 each in secondary offering.

The Department of Justice said it will file a civil antitrust lawsuit to block database software giant Oracle's (ORCL ) $9.4 billion hostile bid for rival PeopleSoft (PSFT ). Seven states will join the Justice Department's suit, including Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Texas.

Goldman Sachs upgraded Tiffany & Co. (TIF ) to outperform from in-line. On Wedneseay the jeweler posted 74 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 10% higher same-store sales.

Noven Pharmaceuticals (NOVN ) posted 24 cents, vs. 13 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share as lower expenses offset an 11% revenue drop. Noven sees 40 cents to 45 cents 2004 earnings per share, and agreed to license the U.S. and Canadian rights to its developmental transdermal fentanyl patch to Endo Pharmaceuticals (ENDP ). WR Hambrecht upgraded Noven.

JP Morgan downgraded Century Aluminum (CENX ) to neutral from overweight, after the company said it would increase its aluminum hedge position to 48% of 2005 sales.

California's Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers) said on Wednesday that it will withhold voting for Michael Eisner as chairman and CEO of Disney (DIS ).

American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS ) posted 57 cents, vs. 54 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 5.2% higher total sales. The retailer says consolidated February month-to-date comp-store sales have increased in the mid-teens.

Toll Brothers (TOL ) posted 62 cents, vs. 61 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 5% revenue rise. The homebuilder says while severe winter weather has not slowed demand, it slowed production and delayed closings. Toll Brothers lowered the top-end projected range of fiscal 2004 deliveries by 100 homes.

Limited Brands (LTD ) posted 74 cents, vs. 66 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 8% higher same-store sales. The retailer raised the annual dividend by 20%, to 48 cents.

Sunrise Senior Living (SRZ ) posted 67 cents, vs. 82 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share. Sunrise reaffirmed the previous $1.55 to $1.65 2004 earnings per share guidance, excluding income from property sales.

UBS Financial upgraded Toys R Us (TOY ) to buy from neutral, on a strong sales formula at Babies R Us, some excess real estate, and potential store closings.

Decode Genetics (DCGN ) announced the formation of a seven-year alliance with Merck (MRK ) under which Decode will conduct clinical trials on a range of Merck's developmental compounds.

Starbucks (SBUX ) posted 13% higher February same-store sales and 32% higher total sales. The coffee-house chain says the current high level of sales growth is not sustainable. It says about 20% sales growth and 3% to 7% same-store growth is the right level for long-term expectations.

Industrial Services (IDSA ) set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Innovative Companies (GORX ) says its Breakthrough Engineered Nutrition unit announced an agreement with Wal-Mart (WMT ) to distribute CarbSlim Bites.

Video-camera systems maker ParkerVision (PRKR ) agreed to sell the assets of its video division to Thomson, in a deal valued at about $14 million in cash, subject to conditions.

Lowrance Electronics (LEIX ) posted 41 cents, vs. 16 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 14% sales rise.

ITT Educational (ESI ) says it continues to cooperate with government investigators seeking documents from its corporate headquarters. CS First Boston downgraded to neutral from outperform.

Darden Restaurants (DRI ) raised its third quarter earnings per share guidance to 45 cents to 46 cents. The owner of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains cited stronger than expected sales and profitability in January and February. It now sees 12% to 15% earnings per share growth for fiscal 2004. Prudential reportedly upgraded the shares to overweight from neutral.

Veritas DGC ( VTS ) posted second quarter earnings per share of 42 cents, vs. 14 cents one year earlier, on an 18% revenue rise. The company plans to offer $125 million in convertible notes.

Midway Games ( MWY ) posted a 52-cent fourth quarter loss per share, vs. a 54-cent loss, despite a 62% revenue decline. The video-game software outfit sees about a $20 million net loss in 2004 on revenues of about $140 million. Midway filed a $100 million universal shelf registration statement.

Tekelec (TKLC ) agreed to acquire privately-held Taqua Inc., for about $85 million in cash, plus the assumption of outstanding options. The maker of network systems products expects the deal to reduce earnings per share on a GAAP basis by 7 cents to 9 cents for the rest of 2004 and by 4 cents to 6 cents in 2005.

RC2 Corp. (RCRC ) posted fourth quarter earnings per share of 85 cents, vs. 41 cents, on an 85% sales rise (including its acquired Learning Curve business). The maker of scaled die cast vehicle replicas says first-quarter earnings per share may likely be lower than the 17 cents of one year ago. It sees 2004 earnings per share (pro forma) of $2.04 to $2.09.

Community Health (CYH ) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of 35 cents, vs. 28 cents, on a 36% revenue rise. The company notes that on a same-store basis, admissions increased 4.2%, and net operating revenues increased 9.3%. The provider of hospital healthcare services reportedly sees 2004 earnings per share of $1.49 to $1.52 on net operating revenues of $3.35 billion.

Men's Wearhouse (MW ) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of 55 cents, vs. 50 cents, on 5.8% higher U.S. same-store sales and 8.3% higher total sales. Canadian same-store sales decreased 3.9%. The company sees first-quarter earnings per share of 30 cents to 31 cents on net sales of $344 million to $349 million, and fiscal 2005 earnings per share of $1.60 to $1.66.

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