With Walls Closing In, USG Files for Chapter 11

Barrick Gold rushes to buy Homestake Mining; Walgreen stock gets hit after earnings miss; plus other stocks in the news

USG Corp. (USG ) filed for Chapter 11. S&P upgraded to hold from sell.

Walgreen Co. (WAG ) posted lower-than-expected $0.21 EPS vs. $0.19 Q3 EPS on 11.3% higher same-store sales and 17% higher total sales. S&P downgraded to hold.

Homestake Mining (HM ) agreed to be acquired by Barrick Gold (ABX ). Terms: 0.53 Barrick share per Homestake share, for a value of $8.71 per Homestake share.

Acxiom Corp. (ACXM ) sees a $0.06-$0.09 Q1 loss (adjusted for non-recurring items) on $205M revenues, citing the impact of the economic downturn.

Inhale Therapeutic Systems (INHL ) released the Phase III study data from inhaled insulin, Exubera, which uses the company's inhaleable technologies. Prudential notes the concern over increased insulin antibodies.

Morgan Stanley reportedly upgraded Globespan (GSPN ) to strong buy from outperform.

CIBC World downgraded Business Objects (BOBJ ) to hold from strong buy, citing weakness in the business intelligence sector.

Lehman upgraded Arch Coal (ACI ) to strong buy from buy.

Triton Oil (OIL ) announced a third significant oil discovery on Block G offshore Equatorial Guinea.

Merrill upgraded Photon Dynamics (PHTN ) to near-term buy from accumulate.

CS First Boston cut estimates on DMC Stratex (STXN ). Late last week DMC forecasted a lower-than-expected $0.04-$0.08 Q1 loss from operations on $75M-$80M revenues.

Lehman reiterates its strong buy rating on Sirius Satellite (RADI ) after Agere Systems says seven consumer electronics manufacturers that are developing radios that include Agere's chipset also are capable of receiving broadcasts from Sirius.

Alltrista Corp. (ALC ) says Marlin Partners II LP has withdrawn its offer to acquire Alltrista for $18 cash per share. Alltrista expects 2001 EBITDA to be 15%-20% below its earlier guidance of about $55M.

California Center Bank Hanmi Financial (HAFC ) terminated its agreement to be acquired by Hanmi.

CIBC World reiterates its strong buy rating on Computer Access (CATZ ) following an informational roadshow with management.

Goldman upgraded Alaska Air (ALK ) to market outperform from market perform.

Pioneer-Standard (PIOS ) sees Q1 earnings at breakeven or slightly profitable vs. the $0.18 First Call consensus. The company cited a severe volume decline in electronic components. Tucker Anthony cut estimates.

Merrill downgraded MEMC Elecronic Materials (WFR ) to near-term reduce from accumulate, and to long-term neutral from accumulate.

SG Cowen upgradedICOS (ICOS ) to strong buy from buy.

Surebeam "A" (SURE ) signed a $50M agreement with RESAL Saudi Corp. to build a network of SureBeam pasteurization facilities in Saudi Arabia.

IBM Corp. (IBM ) says it has built the world's fastest silicon-based transistor.

IMC Global (IGL ) says Q2 EPS will be only slightly better than breakeven due to unfavorable foreign exchange and a higher interest expense. IMC says second-half results will be hurt by weak phosphate demand,and a sharp decline in selling prices.

Dime Bancorp (DME ) agreed to be acquired by Washington Mutual (WM ) in a stock/cash deal valued at $5.2B, with total consideration fixed at $1.4B cash, and 92.3M Washington Mutual shares. Terms: 1.05 Washington Mutual share per Dime share. S&P maintains accumulate.

Merrill downgraded Biogen Corp. (BGEN ) to near-term and long-term neutral from accumulate. Lehman reportedly downgraded to market perform from buy and cut the target. S&P maintains hold.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Compaq Computer (CPQ ) plans restructuring to put its focus on software/services over hardware. S&P maintains hold.

Sierra Wireless (SWIR ) cut the $0.03 Q2 EPS (pro forma) guidance to a $0.05-$0.09 loss on $18M-$20M revenue and sees breakeven Q3. Sierra will take one-time charges in Q2 of about $11M. CS First Boston downgraded to hold.

Goldman reportedly added Coca-Cola (KO ) to its recommended list.

USB Piper expects Yahoo! (YHOO ) to come in at the high end of Q2 revenue guidance, with EPS upside likely. While UBS Piper expects positive announcements in the near term, long-term growth remains unclear, and the firm maintains its neutral rating on the stock.

BYL Bancorp ( BOYL ) agreed to be acquired by First Banks America for $18.50 cash per share, or total of about $52M.

Talx Corp. (TALX ) plans to acquire Ti3 Inc., an application service provider primarily for the staffing industry, in a stock deal valued at $1.8M. Separately, Talx filed to offer 2.74M shares.

Datron Systems (DTSI ) agreed to be acquired by Titan Corp. (TTN ) for $16 per share in Titan stock.

Sunquest Info (SUNQ ) agreed to be acquired by Misys PLC. Terms: $24 cash per Sunquest share.

Apollo Group (APOL ) posted $0.29 vs. $0.19 Q3 EPS on 28% revenue rise and sees $210M-$212M Q4 revenue and $764M-$766M for fiscal 2001, with an expected 20.0%-20.5% Q4 operating margin, as well as a 20.0%-20.5% operating margin for fiscal 2001. William Blair raised estimates.

Novo-Nordisk (NVO ) says a study suggests its oral antidiabetic drug (OAD) Prandin stimulates insulin secretion by pancreas through a different mechanism than nateglinide, tolbutamide, and other OADs used to treat type 2 diabetes.

ARM Holdings (ARMHY ) is in collaboration with and made a licensing deal with Sun Microsystems to jointly develop new Java technologies optimized for the wireless device market.

Paychex Inc. (PAYX ) posted $0.18 vs. $0.14 Q4 EPS on 16% revenue rise.

Swift Transport (SWFT ) says it has priced a public offering of 1.2M shares at $16.00 per share before underwriting discounts.

Ariad Pharmaceutical (ARIA ) filed a universal shelf registration statement with SEC for issuance of up to 4.5M shares.

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