Hewlett-Packard Beats Targets

Intuit loss widens; Martha Stewart Living slips; plus more of today's stocks in the news

After the close of trading Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ) posted 36 cents, vs. 24 cents, fourth-quarter earnings per share (excluding one-time items) -- beating analysts' estimates by a penny per share. The computer maker's revenue rose 10% to $1.98 billion. H-P said it expects to post 35 cents first-quarter EPS (pro forma) on sales between $19.1 billion and $19.5 billion.

After the close of trading Wednesday, Intuit (INTU ) posted a loss of 24 cents earnings per share, vs. a loss of 21 cents, which was better than analysts' expectations for a loss of 27 cents per share. The financial-software maker's revenue grew 13.9% to $242 million.

Martha Stewart Living (MSO ) shares declined further on news late Tuesday that a federal judge had denied a request by Martha Stewart's lawyers to drop two of the most serious charges against her in the high-profile securities fraud case. Stewart is accused of misleading investigators about her role in the sale of nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems (MSO ) in December 2001.

Medical-device maker Guidant (GDT ) sees better-than-expected $2.40 to $2.55 2004 earnings per share on revenue of $3.75 billion to $3.95 billion. J.P. Morgan reportedly raised its estimates.

UnitedHealth (UNH ) raised the 2004 earnings per share guidance to $3.58 to $3.61 on a revenue base exceeding $33 billion, including a recent acquisition. The health-benefits company reaffirmed the $2.91 2003 earnings per share guidance.

Network Appliances (NTAP ) posted 13 cents, vs. 5 cents second-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 28% revenue rise. SoundView says the results and guidance are in line, but the company's failure to deliver an upside surprise may ultimately disappoint, and the firm remains cautious on Network Appliances shares.

Analog Devices (ADI ) posted 23 cents, vs. 9 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 22% revenue rise. The chipmaker sees 27 cents to 28 cents first-quarter earnings per share on sequential revenue of about 5%. Analog Devices set an initial 4 cents dividend. SoundView raised estimates. S&P reiterates buy.

General Electric (GE ) plans to pursue an IPO of a new company named Genworth Financial, that will comprise most of its life-insurance and mortgage-insurance operations. J.P. Morgan says the story looks healthier, but keeps the neutral rating based on valuation. S&P keeps hold.

Broker SoundView Technology (SNDV ) agreed to be acquired by Charles Schwab (SCH ) for $15.50 cash per share. S&P maintains avoid on Schwab.

Citigroup upgraded DoubleClick (DCLK ) to buy from sell.

Morgan Stanley downgraded Jabil Circuit (JBL ) to underweight from equal-weight.

Talbots (TLB ) posted 60 cents, vs. 63 cents third-quarter earnings per share on a 4.5% drop in same-store sales and 1.6% total sales rise. Analysts were expecting earnings per share of 59 cents from the women's retailer. Given the inconsistency in last month's sales trends, Talbots remains cautious on the fourth quarter, and will wait to better gauge sales and earnings per share trends before giving guidance. First Albany upgraded to buy; S&P keeps avoid.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA ) announced results of preclinical studies demonstrating that AP23573, its lead oncology product candidate, blocks a process that controls tumor blood supply.

Eastman Kodak (EK ) says it will accelerate healthcare information systems product development through a double-digit percentage increase in R&D spending.

AT&T Wireless (AWE ) plans to lay off more than 10% of its 30,000 workers over the next year, anjd may outsource jobs to India and elsewhere overseas, according to The Wall Street Journal.

CIBC World cut its estimates and keeps the sector underperform rating on Schering-Plough (SGP ). On Tuesday the drugmaker held an analyst meeting. S&P reiterated hold.

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