AutoZone Drops

Diageo seals Burger King sale; PepsiAmericas tumbles; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Goldman downgraded AutoZone (AZO ) to in-line from outperform. On Thursday the company posted $1.04 vs. 76 cents first quarter earnings per share on a 4.5% same store sales rise.

Diageo (DEO ) agreed to revised sales terms of its Burger King unit to a group composed of Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital Partners, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners for $1.5 billion.

Banc of America downgraded SPX Corp. (SPW ) to underperform from buy.

Cooper Companies (COO ) posted 52 cents vs. 38 cents fourth quarter earnings per share on a 43% revenue rise, and sees 39 cents to 42 cents first quarter earnings per share on revenue of $86 million to $90 million. Banc of America downgraded to market perform from buy.

Checkfree (CKFR ) says Fifth Third Bancorp is offering Checkfree's online bill payment services to its retail banking customers. Friedman Billings downgraded to underperform from outperform.

Goldman Sachs downgraded Activision (ATVI ), Electronics Arts (ERTS ), and THQ Interactive (THQ ) to underperform.

Electronic Data (EDS ) and Bank og America inked a $4.5 billion managed network outsourcing services agreement. SoundView upgraded EDS to outperform from neutral. S&P keeps avoid.

United Technologies (UTX ) sees $4.55 to $4.80 2003 earnings per share, and expects continued strength in Asia, especially in China. The company expects to generate about $2.4 billion of free cash flow in 2003. Lehman reiterates outperform.

Cirrus Logic (CRUS ) sees $58 million to $62 million third quarter revenue vs. the second quarter's $73.3 million. The company sees a third quarter GAAP loss of 15 cents to 16 cents, at the low end of a previou guidance. Cirrus sees seven cents to eight cents earnings per share (pro forma). Adam Harkness and SG Cowen reportedly downgraded.

Waters (WAT ) lowered its fourth quarter sales outlook to a decline of 2% before currency effects, and a 1% increase after currency effects. The company now expects 38 cents to 40 cents fourth quarter earnings per share before a one-time charge, vs. the previous 46 cent estimate.

Northwestern (NOR ) says it will miss the $1.50-$1.60 2002 earnings per share from operations guidance, citing the need to significantly increase reserves for accounts receivable and billing adjustments; and poor operating performance at its Expanets and Blue Dot units.

Adobe Systems (ADBE ) posted 17 cents vs. 14 cents fourth quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on an 11% revenue rise. The software maker sees 21 cents to 23 cents first quarter earnings per share (pro forma) on $275 million to $290 million in revenue. S&P reiterates hold. Adams Harkness upgraded to buy from market perform.

Dow Chemical (DOW ) named William S Stavropoulos as president and CEO, succeeding Micheal D. Parker. Dow says the decision is solely in light of the company's disappointing financial performance over the last eight quarters.

Coca-Cola (KO ) says it is comfortable with the range of analyst expectations for 2003 earnings per share, and says it will no longer provide any earnings per share guidance, and will not update its 2003 outlook as the year progresses. Coke maintain its 2002 earnings per share outlook.

Salomon reportedly upgraded Newmont Mining (NEM ) to outperform from in-line.

PepsiAmericas (PAS ) sees 2002 earnings per share (as reported) of 87 cents to 90 cents; it expects five cents to eight cents fourth quarter earnings per share, including a charge. The company expects domestic volumes to be in the range of flat-to-down 1% in the fourth quarter. Deutsche Bank reportedly downgraded to sell.

Plexus (PLXS ) will close a manufacturing facility in San Diego, and restructure operations at its other locations. The company sees the first quarter at the bottom part of a two cents loss to two cents earnings per share (excluding restructuring charges) range, and sees a two cents to five cents operating loss per share in the second quarter.

Computer Sciences (CSC ) will acquire DynCorp in a $950 million deal, including the a ssumption of debt. Terms: $15 cash, $43 in Computer Sciences shares for each DynCorp share.

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