Michaels Stores Rises

Progress Financial surges; Murphy Oil advances on oil find; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Arts and crafts retailer Michaels Stores (MIK ) posted 35 cents vs. 30 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a slight rise in same-store sales, and a 6.9% total sales rise. S&P reiterates hold. USB Piper raised its target.

Progress Financial (PFNC ) agreed to be acquired by FleetBoston Financial (FBF ), the No. seven U.S. bank, for $211 million in stock. FleetBoston plans to expand in Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania.

Murphy Oil (MUR ) announced a significant new oil discovery at Kikeh Kecil #1 well, drilled in Block K, offshore Sabah Malaysia. Banc of America raised the $55 target to $60.

Home-decor company Kirkland's (KIRK ) posted 4 cents second-quarter earnings per share vs. a 35-cent loss despite flat same-store sales, and a 5.7% total sales rise. Kirkland's reaffirmed the 4 cents to 6 cents third-quarter operating earnings per share guidance, and the $1.02 to $1.07 fiscal 2004 earnings per share estimate. USB Piper reportedly upgraded to strong buy.

Computer Hard-drive maker Western Digital (WDC ) expects to break even in the first quarter after one-time charges. Western Digital sees first-quarter revenues at $690 million to $700 million, toward the high end of earlier guidance. It expects the Read-Rite Corp. acquisition to be accretive in the second quarter. S&P keeps accumulate.

Retailer Dollar General (DG ) posted 18 cents vs. 13 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 14% sales rise (excluding restatement-related items). Dollar General sees a 15% to 20% 2003 net income rise, vs. the prior 11% to 15% guidance. S&P raised its estimate, and maintains hold.

Lehman Brothers says Forest Labs (FRX ) is the best near-term trading idea in its universe.

On Wednesday, Flamel Technologies (FLML ) announced a deal with Bristol-Myers to develop and market Basulin, first controlled release, an unmodified human insulin to be developed as a once-daily injection for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

S&P Ratings raised the corporate credit rating on wireless phone and accessories maker Brightpoint (CELL ) to B+ from B, reflecting continued revenue growth and consistent profitability.

Nutrition 21 (NXXI ) says people with type 2 diabetes significantly reduced their elevated blood sugar levels in 12 weeks through the company's Patient Experience Program.

Chip-equipment maker LTX Corp. (LTXX ) posted a $1.61 fourth-quarter loss vs. a $1.84 loss (GAAP) on a 3.1% net sales rise. LTX sees a 24-cent to 27-cent first-quarter loss on $37 million to $40 million revenue. SoundView upgraded to outperform from neutral. S&P keeps hold.

Petsmart (PETM ) posted 19 cents vs. 15 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 7.9% same-store sales rise, and 11% higher total sales. Petsmart sees 19 cents to 20 cents third-quarter earnings per share on 8% to 9% same-store sales growth.

Halliburton (HAL ) has won contracts worth more than $1.7 billion under Operation Iraqi Freedom, and stands to make hundreds of millions of more dollars under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the Washington Post.

Sears (S ) expects to take a $75 million to $100 million third-quarter charge to recognize expenses related to the closing of three Great Indoors stores.

Superior Industries (SUP ) sees lower than expected 40 cents third-quarter earnings per share due to significant one-time expenses relating to multiple expansion programs, and a record number of new product launches. S&P maintains hold.

Zale's (ZLC ) posted 9 cents vs. 11 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite a 1.6% total revenue rise. Excluding non-recurring items, Zale's posted 21 cents earnings per share -- beating analysts' average estimates by a penny. The jewelry retailer sees 19% fiscal 2004 earnings per share growth, and 1.5% to 2.5% same-store sales growth.

Apollo Group (APOL ) sees 39 cents first-quarter earnings per share attributed to Apollo Education Group, and $1.64 for fiscal 2004. Apollo sees 27 cents first-quarter earnings per share attributable to University of Phoenix Online, and $1.30 earnings per share in fiscal 2004. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Chico's (CHS ) posted 28 cents vs. 19 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 15% same-store sales rise, and a 39% total sales rise. Chico's says August same-store sales are currently strong and in the mid to high teens. First Albany raised its estimates and target. S&P keeps its accumulate opinion.

SPX Corp. (SPW ) set a stock buyback of $200 million plus 50% of consolidated net income.

Micros Systems (MCRS ) posted 48 cents vs. 29 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 20% revenue rise. Micros sees $97 million to $102 million in first-quarter fiscal 2004 revenue, and $3.5 million to $4.5 million net income. Also, Micros sees $440 million to $450 million fiscal 2004 revenue, and $26.5 million to $29.5 million in net income. Legg Mason reportedly downgraded its rating on the shares to hold.

Tech Data (TECD ) posted 30 cents vs. 60 cents second-quarter earnings per share despite a 4.6% sales rise. Tech Data sees $4.05 billion to $4.20 billion in third-quarter sales, and 40 cents to 45 cents earnings per share. Banc of America says pricing remains tough, and reiterates neutral. S&P reiterats hold.

Ultimate Electronics (ULTE ) posted a 12-cent second-quarter loss vs. a 7-cent loss on a 10% same-store sales decline, and a 9% total sales rise. The company expects third-quarter same-store sales to be down in the mid-single digits with total sales up slightly; it sees a 7-cent to 11-cent third-quarter loss per share.

The FDA approved Bayer's (BAY ) Gamunex, Immune Globulin Intravenous, 10% Caprylate/Chromatography Purified, the drugmaker's new immunoglobulin intravenous product.

Amgen (AMGN ) and Genentech settled patent litigation. Both parties dismissed claims against each other. Amgen will make one-time payment to Genentech; the financial impact is seen at less than 5 cents earnings per share (GAAP basis) in the third quarter.

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