National Semi Tops Estimates

Nokia boosts outlook; Procter & Gamble says earnings are on track; plus more of Thursday's stocks in the news

National Semiconductor (NSM ) posted better-than-expected first quarter earnings per share of 31 cents, vs. 8 cents (GAAP basis) one year earlier, on a 29% revenue rise. The company expects that second-quarter revenues may decline 8% to 10% sequentially accompanied by gross margin of about 51%. National Semi expects operating costs to be comparable to those of the first quarter.

Nokia (NOK ) raised the third-quarter earnings per share guidance to 11 euro cents ($0.13) to 13 euro cents, vs. the previous estimate of 8 euro cents to 10 euro cents. Sales are expected to reach 6.8 billion euros to 6.9 billion euros. The cell-phone maker cited strong volume growth and healthy mobile-device sales.

Texas Instruments (TXN ) lowered its $3.2 billion to $3.44 billion third-quarter revenue guidance to $3.1 billion to $3.24 billion. It now sees 27 cents to 29 cents third-quarter earnings per share, vs. the previous 26 cents to 29 cents guidance. CS First Boston maintains its outperform rating.

Procter & Gamble (PG ) reiterated its 72 cents first-quarter earnings per share guidance and 4% to 6% organic sales growth. P&G says exceptional developing market growth continues and initiative program are robust. The consumer-appliances maker expects total sales growth to be in the low double digits.

Nucor (NUE ) raised its $3.20 to $3.40 third-quarter EPS forecast to $4.40 to $4.60.It also raised its quarterly dividend 24% and set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Intercept (ICPT ) agreed to be acquired by Fidelity National Financial (FNF ). Terms: $18.90 cash or cash and Fidelity National stock for each Intercept share.

Corning (GLW ) is comfortable with its third-quarter guidance of 10 cents to 12 cents EPS and $950 million to $1 billion in revenue. It expects third-quarter optical fiber volume to be in the 5% to 15% growth range over second-quarter volume. S&P reiterates hold.

Pepsi Bottling (PBG ) reaffirmed its EPS guidance of 67 cents to 71 cents for the third quarter and $1.68 to $1.74 for all of 2004. The company notes third-quarter worldwide physical case volume grew 2% on a constant-territory basis, with increases of 1% in the U.S. and 5% in Europe.

Rent-A-Center (RCII ) lowered the third-quarter earnings per share guidance to 47 cents to 48 cents earnings per share, and cut the 2004 guidance to $2.30 to $2.33. The company cited slower consumer demand as its target market has been hard hit by higher fuel costs.

Boeing (BA ) won a 15-month, $54.6 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop system architectures and initial designs for the next iteration of Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) software-defined radios.

Bear Stearns downgraded Apple Computer (AAPL ) to peer perform from outperform on valuation.

Verizon Communication (VZ ) inked a deal to sell its directory operations in Canada to Bain Capital for $1.54 billion. Verizon expects the deal to be completed by yearend 2004. S&P reiterates buy.

Outback Steakhouse (OSI ) estimates a loss of about $2.8 million to $3 million in revenues as result of 108 restaurants that were closed completely for one or more days due to Hurricane Frances. The restaurant operator notes some stores that remained open had weak sales during the storm.

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