National Commerce Sinks on a Warning

H&R Block declines; Cognos Climbs; plus more of today's stocks in the news

National Commerce (NCF ) sees weaker than expected 31 cents first quarter earnings per share, impacted by a six-cent to seven-cent charge for the settlement of a purported lawsuit against the First Mercantile unit, and lower net interest income. S&P, Merrill, and Legg Mason downgraded.

Cognos (COGN ) posted 33 cents vs. 27 cents fourth quarter operating earnings per share on 15% revenue growth. The business software maker sees 12 cents to 14 cents first quarter fiscal 2004 earnings per share on $146 million to $150 million in revenue.

Cerner (CERN ) sees 13 cents to 15 cents first quarter earnings per share, va. the 38 cents consensus estimate. Cerner sees $189 million to $192 million first quarter revenue, below the previous $205 million to $210 million guidance, citing lower new business bookings.

Hospitality Properties (HPT ) says Wyndham International failed to pay the rent due on April 1, 2003 due to it. S&P downgraded.

Maximus (MMS ) sees $127 million to $132 million second quarter revenue, 30 cents to 35 cents earnings per share, $520 million to $530 million in fiscal 2003 revenue, and earnings per share of at least $1.60, citing state cutbacks and postponements due to continued state budget pressures. Legg Mason cut to hold.

CS First Boston downgraded ITT Educational (ESI ) to neutral from outperform.

H&R Block (HRB ) reaffirmed its $3.10-$3.25 fiscal 2003 earnings per share guidance. Goldman downgraded to underperform. S&P reiterates avoid.

Polycom (PLCM ) sees lower than expected breakeven to a penny per share for the first quarter (pro forma) on $92 million to $93 million in sales. Wedbush Morgan cut its estimates and target. S&P reiterates hold.

Nassda (NSDA ) sees lower than expected fourth quarter second quarter earnings per share on about $8.8 million in revenue, and breakeven third quarter on $7 million in revenue. UBS Warburg downgraded to neutral from buy.

Garden Fresh Restaurants (LTUS ) sees lower than expected 25 cents to 28 cents first quarter earnings per share on $56.4 million in revenue. Morgan Keegan downgraded to market perform from outperform.

Scansource (SCSC ) says third quarter revenues were at, or slightly below, the low end of the previously announced $230 million in guidance.

Merck (MRK ) says its Vioxx drug relieved acute migraine pain in a new Investigational Study of patients with migraine headaches of moderate to severe intensity.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY ) posted higher-than-forecast 35 cents vs. 28 cents fourth quarter earnings per share on 4.1% higher same store sales.

CS First Boston upgraded Business Objects (BOBJ ) to outperform from neutral.

Midas (MDS ) is in a supply deal with Autozone, where Autozone will distribute automotive parts amd accessories to Midas' automotive svc shops in the U.S. Midas is to close its U.S. distribution centers, and take special charges throughout 2003.

Elite Information (ELTE ) agreed to be acquired by Thomson for $14 per share.

Computer Science (CSC ) responded to a negative analyst report Wednesday. UBS Warburg upgraded to buy. Jefferies upgraded to hold. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Dell Computer (DELL ) reaffirmed its first quarter guidance for unit volumes up more than 25% from a year ago, and sees revenue up 18% to $9.5 billion, and a 35% increase in earnings per share to 23 cents. S&P reiterates hold.

A.C. Moore (ACMR ) posted a 2% decline in first quarter same store sales, and a 7% rise in total sales. The retailer expects first quarter earnings per share to meet the consensus estimate of two cents earnings per share.

General Mills (GIS ) reaffirmed its $2.62-$2.64 2003 operating earnings per share forecast, and sees $2.42-$2.44 2003 earnings per share (including items). The cereal maker reiterated $3.00 2004 earnings per share guidance.

JDA Software (JDAS ) sees $41 million first quarter revenues, and a eight-cent to nine-cent first quarter loss (GAAP). JDA notes no large deals were signed during the first quarter. USB Piper reportedly downgraded to market perform.

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