SBC Communications to Cut 11,000 Jobs

Gap fills CEO spot; Merrill assistant to testify against Martha Stewart; plus more of today's stocks in the news

SBC Communications (SBC ) will lay off 11,000 workers and reduce capital spending as the economy remains weak. The telecom company has already trimmed 10,000 jobs this year.

Gap (GPS ) named Paul Pressler, a 15-year veteran of Disney, as president and CEO, effective immediately.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a Merrill Lynch brokerage assistant agreed to to plead guilty and provide testimony against Martha Stewart, the CEO of Martha Stewart Living (MSO ), and other investors, over their sales of ImClone stock last year.

Marriott International (MAR ) expects to meet previous guidance for third quarter lodging operating profits and EPS, before the effect of charges related to its announced exit from the distribution services business. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the company is a target of short sellers.

Goldman cut its estimates on Cendant (CD ). On Wednesday the company said third-quarter EPS will be reduced by about $0.17 due to a non-cash write-down of the carrying value of its mortgage servicing rights asset.

Safeway (SWY ) posted better-than-expected $0.60 vs. $0.60 third-quarter EPS on flat same store sales, and a 1.2% total sales rise. Safeway says it is comfortable with the $0.84 fourth-quarter First Call consensus estimate. S&P reiterates hold.

A O Smith (AOS ) sees $0.32-$0.34 third-quarter EPS vs. previous analysts' $0.30 estimate, citing the success of on-going cost reduction initiatives.

Goldman views recent price weakness on Four Seasons (FS ) as a buying opportunity, and reiterates its recommended list rating.

Nokia (NOK ) reportedly plans to launch three more mobile handsets with color display facilities by the end of the year.

United Airlines parent UAL's (UAL ) union coalition offered to negotiate and implement a recovery program providing $5 billion in labor cost savings over the next five years. S&P reiterates sell.

Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY ) posted $0.25 vs. $0.18 second quarter EPS on 8% higher same store sales and 27% higher total sales. Lehman raised its estimates.

Resources Connection (RECN ) posted $0.11 vs. $0.19 first quarter EPS on a 12% revenue decline.

Amgen (AMGN ) submitted a supplemental biologics license application with the Food and Drug Administration for use of Enbrel to improve physical function in patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis; approval would further expand the broad label currently approved.

Thomas Weisel reportedly downgraded Texas Instruments (TXN ) to market perform from attractive. The firm also reportedly downgraded International Rectifier (IRF ) and Fairchild Semiconductor (FCS ) to market perform from buy.

Morgan Stanley lowered its estimates and price target for Polycom (PLCM ).

Barrick Gold (ABX ) sees $0.33-$0.35 2002 EPS (excluding non-hedge related adjustments) vs. the previous $0.42-$0.47 guidance.

Vulcan Materials (VMC ) sees $0.74-$0.82 third quarter EPS vs. previous estimates of $0.80-$0.90, noting soft demand.

Constellation Brands (STZ ) posted $0.53 vs. $0.46 second quarter EPS despite flat sales, and sees $0.67-$0.70 third quarter EPS, and $2.00-$2.04 in fiscal 2003, excluding extraordinary items.

Atherogenics (AGIX ) announced positive results from a Phase I clinical trial that assessed the safety and tolerability of its novel oral drug, AGI-1096, for the prevention of organ transplant rejection.

Celeritek's (CLTK ) board unanimously rejected Anaren Microwave's proposal to acquire Celeritek for $8.75.

WD-40 (WDFC ) posted $0.52 vs. $0.34 fourth quarter EPS on an 18% sales rise, and sees $1.65-$1.70 fiscal 2003 EPS.

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