Comcast Soars

Nautica jumps; UTStarcom advances; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Comcast (CMCSA ) will sell its stake in QVC for about $7.9 billion to Liberty Media (L ). Liberty may elect to pay a combination of cash and/or a 3-year senior unsecured note, and by issuing Liberty stock. S&P reiterates strong buy on Comcast.

Apparel manufacturer VF Corp. (VFC ) plans to buy Nautica Enterprises (NAUT ) in a $586 million stock deal. Terms: $17 per share, plus $14.6 million to cash out employee stock options.

Wireless-broadband company UTStarcom (UTSI ) received the largest IP-DSLAM contract to date with China Telecom Corp. Separately, Pacific Growth says it appears UTStarcom will soon begin deployments in Nigeria, and reiterates its overweight rating.

Overture Services (OVER ) extended and expanded an international commercial-search relationship with Microsoft to December, 2004.

USB Piper upgraded United Online (UNTD ) to outperform from market perform.

Goldman upgraded Carlisle Companies (CSL ), a manufacturer of products for the construction and automotive industries, among others, to in-line from underperform.

Cellegy Pharmaceucticals (CLGY ) said the FDA rejected its new drug application for testosterone gel Fortigel 2%. Cellegy plans to meet with the FDA to explore its options.

First Albany upgraded Bebe Stores (BEBE ) to buy from neutral.

Beazer Homes (BZH ) posted a 12% rise in third-quarter home orders.

Drugmaker Schering-Plough (SGP ) warned that second-quarter earnings would be 12 cents a share, below forecasts, due to continued competitive pressures on key products including allergy treatment Clarinex. Schering also says earnings for the second half of 2003 may not meet levels seen in the first half.

Microsoft (MSFT ) shareholders are mulling a $10 billion dividend, according to Financial Times' sister site, Les Echos.

Wendy's International (WEN ) posted 1.9% lower same-store sales at U.S. company-owned stores, and 2% lower sales at U.S. franchise stores. Due to unexpected state tax law changes, Wendy's sees 53 cents second-quarter earnings per share vs. the 56 cents forecast. Wendy's also cut the $2.02-$2.08 2003 forecast to $1.97-$2.03.

Citigroup upgraded Siebel Systems (SEBL ) to in-line from underperform. On Thursday the company forecast 2 cents second-quarter earnings per share on $330 million to $334 million total revenues, and $110 million license revenues.

SG Cowen reportedly downgraded St. Jude Medical (STJ ) to outperform from strong buy.

USB Piper reportedly upgraded United Online (UNTD ) to outperform from market perform.

FileNet (FILE ) sees 1 cent to 3 cents second-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) vs. the previous 4 cents to 6 cents guidance, and $85 million revenue vs. the previous $90 million guidance. FileNet cited the delay and deferral of several large transactions.

Kroger (KR ) will settle litigation and restructure supply deals with Dynegy, and will pay Dynegy $110 million. Kroger sees a 5-cent after-tax charge in the second quarter; but sees earnings per share increasing by about 1 cent in 2003, and 2 cents in 2004, with the net effect of a 5-cent cut in 2003 earnings per share.

The Commission of European Communities accepted a joint settlement made by Chiron (CHIR ) and Roche resolving complaints alleging anticompetitive actions. The calue of Chiron's intellectual property is recognized, and its royalty structure is preserved. Credence Systems (CMOS ) says despite published reports, it's not negotiating with either Schlumberger or Francisco Partners and Shah Management to acquire NPTest. Credence says it has no intention to enter into talks to acquire NPTest or its assets.

BMC Software (BMC ) sees $305 million to $312 million in first-quarter revenue vs. the $320 m illion to $335 millio forecast, due to unanticipated delays in customer purchasing decisions. BMC sees a 1-cent to 4-cent first-quarter GAAP loss vs. the previous guidance for breakeven to 5 cents GAAP earnings per share.

Cell Therapeutic (CTIC ) says a Phase 1 trial for Pixantrone showed 58% of patients with relapsed/refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma achieved its objective response. Notably, 32% of patients showed evidence that their tumors disappeared.

Digital-media company Loudeye (LOUD ) expects second-quarter operating results to be the "best quarterly financial performance" since becoming public in mid-2000, and says total cash and short-term investments at the end of the quarter ending June are expected to increase sequentially.

Canadian aluminium giant Alcan (AL ) launched an unsolicited $3.9 billion tender offer for French group Pechiney. The terms are 123 euros, plus three Alcan shares for every five Pechiney shares. Pechiney said the offer undervalued the company.

General Electric (GE ) is continuing talks with European antitrust authorities over its $2 billion acquisition of Finnish medical-equipment maker Instrumentarium, but still expects the deal to close in the third quarter.

Redback Networks (RBAK ) announced an agreement with bondholders on a proposed recapitalization that will include a debt-for-stock exchange. As part of the agreement, 67% of the holders of its 5% convertible subordinated notes due 2007 will be exchanged for common stock.

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