El Paso Slashes Outlook

Novellus shares drop on IT spending concerns; SEC launches probe of Halliburton; plus more of today's stocks in the news

El Paso (EP ) announced a strategic repositioning plan, and will limit investment in and exposure to energy trading, as well as increase investment in its core natural gas business. The company sees $2.60-$2.75 2002 EPS (pro forma), and $2.75- $2.90 EPS for 2003. S&P downgraded to sell. UBS Warburg, and Merrill also downgraded their ratings of the natural gas pipeline company.

CIBC World cut estimates Dynegy (DYN ). Williams Capital reportedly downgraded to hold from buy. On Tuesday Chuck Watson resigned as CEO and chairman.

Raymond James downgraded Plexus (PLXS ) to underperform from market perform.

Banc of America downgraded AnnTaylor (ANN ) to market perform from buy.

CS First Boston downgraded JDS Uniphase (JDSU ) to buy from strong buy.

The FDA granted Antigenics' (AGEN ) personalized cancer vaccine Oncophage "orphan drug status" for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma.

AON Corp. (AOC ) is in a seven-year outsourcing deal with AT&T to provide human resources administrative, transaction and payroll services.

Halliburton (HAL ) received notification from the SEC that it has initiated a preliminary investigation of the company's accounting treatment of cost overruns on construction jobs. Merrill does not think the news will materially affect Halliburton.

S&P Ratings downgraded Williams Cos. (WMB ) senior unsecured debt to BBB-, and downgraded its corporate credit rating to BBB. Both ratings carry a negative outlook.

Morgan Stanley reportedly downgraded CV Therapeutics (CVTX ) to underweight from overweight.

United Defense (UDI ) agreed to acquire United States Marine Repair Inc. for $316M, and sees the deal being immediately accretive to earnings in the second half of 2002 in a range of 5%-10% annually. CS First Boston upgraded to buy from hold.

Novellus Systems (NVLS ) raised guidance for Q2 bookings by $25M to $275M, and raised shipments by $10M to $225M. The company also upped its EPS guidance by $0.02 to $0.08. Lehman says it is disappointed with the lack of longer term guidance.

Merrill reportedly upgraded Starbucks (SBUX ) to near term strong buy from buy and maintains long term strong buy.

Vivendi Universal (V ) board members will meet to hear CEO Jean-Marie Messier, reportedly in an attempt to convince them of his plan to reverse the sharp slide in the company's share price.

Bebe Stores (BEBE ) announced that John Parros, president and COO, has resigned to pursue other opportunities.

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