WellPoint Shares Fall

Hasbro results disappoint; external committee reportedly had early knowledge of risks for Merck's Vioxx; plus more of Monday's stocks in the news

WellPoint (WLP ) posted 92 cents, vs. $1.47 fourth-quarter earnings per share (including items) on a 59% rise in total operating revenue. The company sees $1.82 first-quarter earnings per share and $7.75 2005 earnings per share on operating revenue of about $45.7 billion. S&P reiterates strong buy and raises its target price.

Merck (MRK ) records show an external committee monitoring Vioxx's safety in clinical trial had early data suggesting users could be at increased risk of heart problems after just 4 months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Hasbro (HAS ) posted lower-than-expected 44 cents, vs. 41 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on flat revenue. The company cites tougher a retail environment and disappointing performance in the U.S. Toys segment.

Japanese electronics giants Matsushita (MC ) and Hitachi (HIT ) agree to join forces in the plasma display panel business to stay competitive.

Chinese web portal Sohu.com (SOHU ) posted 17 cents, vs. 28 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite a 68% revenue rise. The company sees 14 cents to 16 cents first-quarter earnings per share on revenue of $22.5 million to $23.5 million.

Humana (HUM ) posted better-than-expected 29 cents, vs. 41 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite a 1.8% revenue rise. The health insurer raised its $1.95 2005 earnings per share guidance to about $2.05. The company cites an anticipated positive impact of federal income tax gain contingency.

Aircraft component manufacturer Goodrich (GR ) posted 30 cents, vs. 19 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 12% sales rise.

Piper Jaffray says Blue Nile (NILE ) fourth-quarter results may not sparkle and reiterates market perform. The company is scheduled to post fourth-quarter results Tuesday after the market closes.

The New York Post reports Oshkosh B'Gosh (GOSHA ) interviewed investment banks to help it explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale, sources familiar with the situation said.

Bear Stearns cuts Synaptics (SYNA ) $53 calendar year-end price target to $49.

Pharmaceutical company Axonyx (AXYX ) says its first Phase III clinical trial with Phenserine, in development for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, showed no statistically significant improvement over placebo in primary endpoints.

Syneron Medical (ELOS ) posted 30 cents, vs. 6 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 47% revenue rise. The company raises 2005 revenue guidance to $78 million to $80 million from $75 million. It says 2005 revenue guidance is set at $17 million to $18 million and plans to offer about 8 million shares.

America Service (ASGR ) sees about 43 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share and about 82 cents earnings per share for 2004. The company sees $1.42 to $1.53 2005 earnings per share on revenue of $600 million to $700 million.

Regis (RGS ) posted flat January same-store sales and 14% higher total revenue.

Owens & Minor (OMI ) raised its quarterly dividend 18%.

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