Microsoft Advances

Microchip Technology rises; Ericsson drops; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Microchip Technology (MCHP ) posted 22 cents, vs. 16 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 20% revenue rise. It sees 25 cents first-quarter earnings per share on 7% to 8% sequential sales rise. Microchip set a 2.5 million share buyback. S&P maintains buy. Legg Mason upgraded to buy from hold.

Microsoft (MSFT ) posted 12 cents earnings per share, vs. 20 cents. Revenue rose a better-than-expected 17%. The world's largest software maker says excluding items, which include stock-based compensation expenses, legal costs related to a settlement with Sun Microsystems, and a fine by the European Commission, the company posted 34 cents earnings per share, beating analysts' average estimates for 29 cents earnings per share. Merrill raised its estimates and reiterates the buy rating. S&P keeps the buy ranking.

Ericsson (ERICY ) posted 0.19 Swedish crowns ($0.02) first-quarter earnings per share vs. a 0.27 crown loss on an 8.5% sales rise. The cell-phone maker estimates global mobile systems market in 2004, measured in U.S. dollars, will show slight to moderate growth from 2003, vs. the previous forecast for slight growth.

Online book and music retailer Amazon (AMZN ) posted 26 cents earnings per share, vs. a 3 cents loss per share. Excluding one-time items, Amazon posted 23 cents per share, beating analysts' average estimate of 19 cents. Revenue rose 41% to $1.53 billion, surpassing the Street's estimates. Amazon sees $1.34 billion to $1.44 billion in second-quarter sales, and $6.45 billion to $6.85 billion in 2004 sales. Piper Jaffray downgraded the shares to underperform from market perform, citing Amazon's declining gross margins and revenue growth and company guidance for further declines. S&P reiterates hold.

Xerox (XRX ) posted 25 cents first-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 10 cents loss on a 1.9% revenue rise. Xerox noted first-quarter 2004 earnings per share included an 8 cents gain from the sale of the company's position in ContentGuard. Xerox sees consistent progress in the second quarter. S&P reiterates hold, citing lackluster end-market climate.

Corning (GLW ) posted 4 cents first-quarter earnings per share (GAAP), vs. 17 cents loss on a 13% sales rise. The world's largest maker of fiber-optic cable sees 7 cents to 9 cents second-quarter earnings per share (non-GAAP) on sales of $900 million to $950 million.

Callaway Golf (ELY ) posted lower-than-expected 59 cents, vs. 64 cents first-quarter earnings per share (including items) as higher operating expenses offset a 34% revenue rise.

DaimlerChrysler's (DCX ) board of management and supervisory board says it will not participate in a capital increase planned by Mitsubishi Motors. Daimler will cease further financial support for Mitsubishi Motors, and may sell its stake in the Japanese car maker. On Thursday, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services slashed its credit rating on Mitsubishi Motors, which trades on several global markets. S&P maintains avoid.

Broadcom (BRCM ) posted 12 cents first-quarter earnings per share (GAAP), vs. a 25 cents loss on a 75% revenue rise. S&P maintains hold.

Aon (AOC ) received a subpoena from the Office of the Attorney General of New York, asking for information regarding certain compensation agreements between insurance brokers and insurance companies.

Multimedia Games (MGAM ) says the General Counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission issued a letter to the company and customers, saying their development agreement regarding the WinStar Casino in Oklahoma constitutes a "management contract." Multimedia says it disagrees with the letter.

Robert Half (RHI ) posted 9 cents first-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 2 cents loss on a 21% revenue rise. The placement firm set a 6 cents per share quarterly dividend. Piper Jaffray upgraded to outperform from market perform. S&P upgraded to hold from sell.

International Paper (IP ) posted 15 cents, vs. 9 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 6.6% revenue rise.

Amgen (AMGN ) posted 52 cents, vs. 37 cents first-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on 33% higher total revenue. S&P reiterates buy.

Fortune Brands (FO ) posted 92 cents, vs. 66 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 23% sales rise. The diversified company, which sells golf products, beer and wine, and hardware tools, raised the second-quarter and 2004 earnings per share growth forecast to strong double digits (before charges and gains).

WellChoice (WC ) terminated talks with Oxford Health (OHP ) regarding the potential acquisition of the company. Seperately, WellChoice posted 71 cents, vs. 57 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 6.9% revenue rise, and raised the 2004 earnings per share guidance to $2.81 to $2.85. Banc of America reiterates its sell rating on Oxford Health, while S&P reiterates the buy ranking.

AT&T Wireless (AWE ) posted a 2 cents first-quarter loss, vs. 5 cents earnings per share as higher expenses and lower operating income offset a 3.2% revenue rise. The company says in light of the pending Cingular deal, which both companies hope to close before year-end, it will not provide new 2004 guidance.

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