Jabil Circuit Rises

King Pharmaceuticals slips; Aetna soars; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Banc of America upgraded electronic manufacturing services provider Jabil Circuit (JBL ) to buy from neutral, on expectations that new business will drive better than expected results in 2004.

King Pharmaceuticals (KG ) says an FDA letter to all abbreviated new-drug application applicants for a generic equivalent to King's Skelaxin 400mg states that applicants may delete the use listed in the FDA's publication for the U.S. patent from their product labeling.

Aetna (AET ) raised the $1.50 to $1.55 first-quarter operating earnings per share guidance to $1.68 to $1.73, and raised the $6.25 to $6.35 2003 estimate to $6.60 to $6.75. The health insurer cited favorable trends in medical and pharmacy membership, moderate medical costs, and operating expense efficiency. S&P upgraded to buy. Goldman Sachs raised its estimates.

Verity (VRTY ) posted 13 cents, vs. 13 cents third-quarter earnings per share (pro forma) as more shares offset a 9.7% revenue rise. The provider of Web infrastructure products sees 9 cents to 12 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (pro forma), and 39 cents to 42 cents in fiscal 2004. S&P ties the stock's weakness to Verity's outlook. Thomas Weisel cut its target.

Merrill Lynch upgraded Citrix Systems (CTXS ) to buy from neutral. See Pg. 5

VaxGen (VXGN ) is seen higher on reports that the U.S. government is seeking more anthrax vaccines.

Electronics Boutique (ELBO ) posted $1.57, vs. $1.21 fourth-quarter earnings per share on better than expected 2% higher same-store sales, and 26% higher total sales. The video-game software retailer sees $1.85 to $1.95 fiscal 2005 earnings per share on 2% to 4% higher comparisons. S&P keeps accumulate.

Idexx Laboratories (IDXX ) raised the first-quarter earnings per share guidance to 43 cents to 47 cents on revenue of $130 million to $133 million. Idexx sees $1.92 to $1.96 2004 earnings per share estimate on revenue of $530 million to $533 million.

JP Morgan upgraded Dell (DELL ) to overweight from neutral. Morgan Stanley upgraded to overweight from equal-weight.

Aeropostale (ARO ) posted 71 cents, vs. 46 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 8.5% higher same-store sales, and 32% higher total sales. The retailer sees 9 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and $1.72 to $1.73 fiscal 2005 earnings per share on mid-single-digit comparable-store sales gains. Aeropostale upped the stock-buyback program to $70 million. Wachovia raised its estimates and price target.

Database-software maker Oracle (ORCL ) posted 12 cents, vs. 11 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a 9% revenue rise. The results were in line with Wall Street estimates. First Albany upgraded Oracle to buy from neutral.

PetCo (PETC ) posted 36 cents, vs. 33 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 5.6% higher same-store sales, and 12% higher total sales. PetCo sees 24 cents to 25 first-quarter earnings per share on 5% to 6% higher comp-store sales, and $1.45 to $1.46 fiscal 2005 earnings per share. CIBC World downgraded to sector perform.

Education-software company SkillSoft (SKIL ) sees fourth-quarter revenue slightly above the $51 million to $53 million guidance on stronger than expected reseller sell-through. SkillSoft expects fourth-quarter earnings per share will modestly exceed the 4 cents to 5 cents guidance, and expects the fiscal 2004 loss to be narrower than the 83 cents to 84 cents guidance.

Alcide (ALCD ) agreed to be acquired by Ecolab in a stock deal valuing each Alcide share at $21.

Chartered Semiconductor (CHRT ) expects "moderately" higher revenues and an improved net loss for first-quarter. It now sees first-quarter revenue, excluding its share of Silicon Manufacturing Partners, up about 23% to 25% sequentially. Morgan Stanley upgraded to overweight.

Chip-equipment maker Altera (ALTR ) expects first-quarter revenue at the high end of its previous target of 6% to 8% sequential growth.

The board of Maxwell Shoe (MAXS ) unanimously decided to reject Jones Apparel's (JNY ) proposal to acquire all shares of Maxwell for $20 per share in cash.

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