Palm Loss Narrows, Beating Targets

Bebe Stores advances; Pediatrix hit with billing probe; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Palm (PALM ), a maker of handheld devices, posted a fourth-quarter loss of 30 cents per share, excluding items, vs. a loss of 62 cents a share. Analysts' were expecting an average loss per share of 93 cents. Palm's revenues dropped 3.2%, to $225.8 million.

Palm, based in Milpitas, Calif., reported a loss of $15 million, or 51 cents a share, for the quarter ended May 31. That compared with a year-earlier loss of $27.5 million, or 95 cents a share. Revenue slid 3.2% to $225.8 million from $233.3 million.

SG Cowen upgraded Bebe Stores (BEBE ) to outperform from market perform.

Pediatrix Medical (PDX ) says the U.S. Attorney General's office is conducting a civil investigation into its Medicaid billing practices nationwide. J.P. Morgan downgraded to underweight.

Georgia-Pacific (GP ) and Owens-Illinois (OI ) shares rose on news that a panel on the Senate Judiciary Committee reached an agreement on the medical criteria for a bill establishing an asbestos trust. S&P reiterates avoid.

NetFlix (NFLX ) received a patent for its subscription rental service.

Pacific Sunwear (PSUN ) presented at a Wachovia Securities Conference in Nantucket, Mass. Pacific Growth reiterates overweight.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD ) sees lower-than-expected $615 million in second-quarter, saying the anticipated global sales improvement in June did not materialize as anticipated.

Knightsbridge Tankers (VLCCF ) says a Royal Dutch unit has decided not to renew an agreement for five of Knightsbridge's crude carrier vessels. The company will call a special shareholder meeting to discuss proposals to sell the ships.

USB Piper downgraded PMC-Sierra (PMCS ) to underperform from market perform.

InFocus (INFS ) sees second-quarter revenue that is 10%-15% lower than the $145.1 million reported in the first quarter. The maker of digital projectors says the reduced revenue and margins are expected in turn to result in a larger net loss from operations for the second quarter. S&P downgraded to avoid.

FedEx (FDX ) posted 92 cents vs. 78 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (before an accounting change) on an 8% revenue rise. The results beat analysts' average estimate by 2 cents. The delivery concern sees 52 cents to 60 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and $3.00-$3.15 for fiscal 2004. S&P keeps its buy ranking.

Kroger (KR ) posted 46 cents vs. 40 cents first-quarter earnings per share on 3.8% higher total sales, and sees $1.55 to $1.63 2003 earnings per share. The supermarket chain notes competitive conditions, thus far, have prevented an increase in gross margin, as anticipated.

Park Place Entertainment (PPE ) sees better-than-expected 11 cents to 15 cents second-quarter earnings per share due to strong results in May.

J.P. Morgan reportedly upgraded networking-equipment maker Ciena (CIEN ) to neutral from underweight.

Bear Stearns downgraded construction contractor Ashland (ASH )to underperform from peer perform. Prudential downgraded to hold from buy.

Invitrogen (IVGN ) says it's confident it will meet the consensus expectation of 52 cents second-quarter earnings per share (pro forma). The biotech firm sees 28 cents to 29 cents second-quarter earnings per share (GAAP).

SoundView downgraded networking-equipment maker Cisco Systems (CSCO ) to neutral from outperform.

Kroll (KROL ) will acquire Factual Data (FDCC ) for roughly $115 million Terms: $17.50 per Federal Data share, payable 80% in cash ($14.00) with the balance paid in Kroll stock ($3.50).

E.W. Scripps (SSP ) expects ad revenue from its four national cable TV networks to be up 20%-30%, and sees ad revenue from daily newspapers, excluding Denver, to be up 2%-4%. Scripps expects second-quarter earnings per share from operations to be near the upper end of the 73 cents to 83 cents estimates.

Sonic (SONC ), an operator of drive-in restaurants, posted 40 cents vs. 35 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a 10% revenue rise. Bear Stearns lowered its estimates.

Prudential upgraded Merrill Lynch (MER ) and Morgan Stanley (MWD ) to buy from hold, citing a faster-than-expected rebound in retail investor activity, valuation, and other factors.

BellSouth (BLS ) increased its quarterly dividend by 9.5%, to 23 cents.

Halliburton (HAL ) intends to offer $1 billion of convertible senior notes to qualified institutional buyers.

Lodgenet Entertainment (LNET ) will deliver Nintendo GameCube games through its Signeture TV marketing and entertainment system. Lodgenet's digital satellite network exceeds 310,000 North American guest rooms.

Genzyme will exercise an option to acquire a 50% interest in Dyax 's (DYAX ) DX-88 program for the potential treatment of hereditary angioedema. Initial Phase II clinical trial results show all patients met the primary goals.

Buca (BUCA ) expects second-quarter same-store restaurant sales to be down 7% for both Buca di Beppo and Vinny T's of Boston restaurants. Buca says due to current sales trends, and the resulting impact on margins, it expects 5 cents to 6 cents in the third quarter, and sees 14 cents to 16 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share.

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