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Philip Morris hit with $28 billion verdict; S&P cuts Disney's debt rating; plus more of today's stocks in the news

S&P Ratings downgraded Walt Disney (DIS ) corporate credit rating to BBB+.

A L.A. jury awarded $28 billion in punitive damages in a smokers' lawsuit against Philip Morris (MO ). One analyst says this figure is more than the value of the tobacco manufacturers' domestic business.

TXU Corp. (TXU ) sees $0.90-$0.95 third-quarter earnings per share, and $0.60-$0.65 for the fourth quarter, as well as $3.45 to $3.55 for 2003. TXU cited pressures from continued low wholesale prices and aggressive retail competition in Great Britian.

Bear Stearns thinks Moody's (MCO ) could miss third quater estimates as debt issuances have softened.

Lab Corp. (LH ) says third-quarter earnings per share will be about 10% below the consensus of $0.49 due to lower than expected revenue of $650 million to $655 million. S&P, Banc of America and Deutsche Bank downgraded.

Schering-Plough (SGP ) sees $1.58 2002 earnings per share due to softer than expected demand, and says as a result of an expected loss of Claritin prescription sales in the U.S., 2003 earnings per share could be in the $1.00-$1.15 range. CIBC World cut its estimates.

EMC (EMC ) sees a $0.02 third quarter loss on revenue of about $1.25 billion, and will likely not reach second-half profitability. S&P keearnings per share hold.

Starbucks (SBUX ) posted 9% higher September same store sales, and 26% higher total sales. Morgan Stanley raised estimates.

Max Re Capital (MXRE ) expects to report a net operating loss for the third quarter due to continued low returns from its alternative investment portfolio.

CIBC World downgraded Bally Total Fitness (BFT ) to sector underperform from sector outperform on a valuation basis.

Foundry Networks (FDRY ) sees $0.04-$0.06 third quarter earnings per share on revenue of $75-$77 million, and says third quarter business activity tracked to its internal goals. CIBC World raised its estimate. S&P reiterates hold.

Research In Motion (RIMM ) posted a $0.18 second quarter loss vs. a $0.22 loss as wider gross margin offset an 8.4% revenue decline. The company set a 5% stock buyback. S&P reiterates sell.

NDS Group (NNDS ) says its U.S. subsidiary, NDS Americas Inc., has been served with subpoenas requesting documents in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego.

Prudential Financial (PRU ) says it is circulating information about its personal lines property & casualty business to other companies to assess interest in its potential sale.

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