Cisco Gains On Upgrade

SBC rises on rate ruling; XOMA skids; Altria gains on positive mention in Barron's; plus more of today's stocks to watch

Cisco Systems (CSCO ) shares rose after Lehman Brothers upgraded them to overweight from equal-weight, and raised its price target for the stock.

According to the recent issue of Barron's, Altria Group (MO ) could see its stock top $40 by year end, perhaps even approach $50, if it gets some favorable legal decisions and demonstrates that tobacco isn't a dying business and resumes its stock buyback program.

SBC Communications (SBC ) shares rose after the company received approval in Illinois to raise rates it can charge competitors to use its services. S&P still sees the company being hurt by wireless and cable competition; reiterates avoid rating.

Hartford Financial (HIG ) shares gained after the company says it sees a first-quarter loss per share of $5.46 after strengthening its net asbestos reserves by $2.6 billion and recording a $1.7 billion charge. The company plans to exit the property-casualty assumed reinsurance market and cut 1,500 jobs. S&P reiterates accumulate.

XOMA Ltd. (XOMA ) shares fell after the company and Genentech (DNA ) terminated Phase II testing of Raptiva in patients with rheumatoid arthritis based on an evaluation that suggested no overall clinical benefit. CIBC World downgraded XOMA shares to sector perform.

Guidant (GDT ), St. Jude Medical (STJ ), and Medtronic (MDT ) were among cardiac companies that gained ground after the U.S. government published a preliminary proposal for an increase in reimbursement rates in fiscal year 2004 for diagnosis-related groups for implantable cardiac defibrillators.

St. Jude Medical shares jumped after Fulcrum upgrades to buy from neutral based on the preliminary government proposal for an increase in reimbursement rates for implantable cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers.

WellChoice (WC ) shares fell on news that in an 8K filed today that implementation of proposed insurance changes in New York could cost it 12 cents per share in earnings in 2003.

Harley-Davidson (HDI ) was downgraded by RBC Capital to sector perform from outperform.

Goldman Sachs upgraded H&R Block (HRB ) to 'in-line' from 'underperform,' based largely on valuation, but also to reflect modestly less concern around the company's poor client growth this past tax season.

Barron's also reported that some analysts and investors expect Costco Wholesale (COST ) to trade at $45, some 30% above current levels, in two years as costly expansion into new markets pays off.

Eastman Kodak (EK ) agrees to acquire Applied Science Fiction's proprietary rapid film processing technology, Digital PIC, and other key assets. Terms were not disclosed.

Footstar (FTS ) says that based on an ongoing review of its financial statements, it will not file a quarterly report on Form 10-Q on May 13.

Prudential reportedly downgraded Gap Inc. (GPS ) to hold, and upgraded AnnTaylor (ANN ) to buy.

Federated Department Stores (FD ) reportedly backs its May same-store sales guidance, and notes that it will no longer provide a weekly sales update.

Fairchild (FA ) posted a third-quarter loss per share of 30 cents, vs. 1 cent EPS a year ago, on 22% lower revenue.

Morgan Stanley downgraded Halliburton (HAL ) to equal-weight from overweight.

Human Genome Sciences (HGSI ) acquired an exclusive license from Abgenix to develop and commercialize fully human monoclonal antibody to CCR5 receptor -- the receptor shown to be required for infection by HIV.

Mapics (MAPX ) posted a second-quarter loss per share of 7 cents, vs. earning per share of 2 cents (GAAP) a year ago, despite a 15% total revenue rise.

Group 1 Software (GSOF ) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of 22 cents, vs. 14 cents, on a 21% revenue rise. The company maintains its fiscal 2004 net earnings growth guidance of 24% to 28% and its revenue growth guidance of 10% to 12%, excluding the potential impact of the Segent acquisition.

Tribune (TRB ) posted 4% higher April consolidated revenue.

Hecla Mining (HL ) announced the resignation of CEO Arthur Brown. Hecla appointed Phillips S. Baker Jr. to replace Brown.

Pan Pacific Retail (PNP ) increased its dividend by 2% to 51 cents per share.

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