Maxtor Moves Higher

Business Objects taps new CFO; EchoStar climbs as merger talks dissolve; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Needham upgraded Maxtor (MXO ) to strong buy from buy. The company sees 10 cents to 14 cents fourth quarter earnings per share (adjusted) on better than expected revenue of $990 million to $1.03 billion. Maxtor will cut its workforce by an additional 500 positions.

Wachovia reiterates buy on Business Objects (BOBJ ). The enterprise software company named Jim Tolenen as CFO at its analyst meeting Monday. Tolonen will succeed Thom Weatherford, who is retiring at end of this year.

EchoStar Communications (DISH ) and GM's Hughes Electronics reached a settlement to terminate a proposed merger. Under the terms of the settlement, EchoStar has paid $600 million cash to Hughes, and Hughes will retain its 81% stake in PanAmSat (SPOT ), a provider of global video and data broadcasting services via satellite. EchoStar shares rose, while PanAmSat shares declined.

S&P upgraded Teradyne (TER ) to hold from sell, citing the relatively high utilization rates on testers as chip unit volumes rise.

Salomon downgraded Deere & Co. (DE ) to in-line from outperform.

Needham initiated coverage of Digital Insight (DGIN ) with hold, saying its near term fundamental performance is guarded and that the company's revenues will likely grow negligibly for the next two years.

Sanderson Farms (SAFM ) posted 49 cents vs. 94 cents fourth quarter earnings per share on a 3% sales decline, citing lower poultry prices and pricing pressure from a Russian embargo.

PC Connection's (PCCC ) GovConnection unit was selected by the National Institutes of Health as a supplier of IT products. GovConnection will be one of several suppliers in a contract expected to be worth $6 billion over 10 years.

Avista (AVA ) reached an agreement with FERC whereby no evidence was found that any executive or employees of Avista and its utility unit engaged in an improper trading strategy or manipulated western energy markets during 2000-2001.

Kroger (KR ) posted 34 cents (before one-time items) vs. 33 cents third quarter earnings per share on a 2.8% sales rise, and expects fiscal 2004 earnings per share will be equal to fiscal 2003 before one-time items. The company set a $500 million stock buyback.

McGraw-Hill (MHP ) says a change in pension accounting assumptions could have a negative impact of five cents to six cents on 2003 earnings per share. Overall, McGraw-Hill expects 7% to 9% 2003 earnings per share growth. The company owns Standard & Poor's and BusinessWeek.

Nokia (NOK ) expects fourth quarter sales for the Nokia group to reach 8.8 billion euros to nine billion euros, which is at the lower end or slightly below the earlier sales guidance.

Borg Warner (BWA ) raised its quarterly dividend by 20% to 18 cents, and continues to target 2003 sales growth of 8%-11%, and earnings per share growth of 12%-16% despite the expectation of more moderate auto production in North America and Europe.

Ingram Micro (IM ) reaffirmed its previous fourth quarter earnings per share from operations guidance of 17 cents to 19 cents, but says sales are now expected to approach the low end of a $5.75 billion to $5.9 billion range. Ingram says the demand environment in North America is softer than expected.

Morgan Stanley reportedly downgraded Emmis Communications (EMMS ) to underweight from equal-weight.

Deutsche Bank initiated coverage of Philip Morris (MO ) with buy.

Forest Labs (FRX ) says results from a Phase III trial show that Alzheimer's patients receiving a combination of memantine and donepezil performed significantly better than patients receiving donepezil and a placebo.

AsiaInfo (ASIA ) inked a software contract with China Mobile headquarters to support its soon-to-be-launched nationwide Wireless LAN business.

Digimarc (DMRC ) inked a contract with Saudi Arabia's National Information Center to issue 500,000 Citizen Cards.

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