Xerox Rises

Credence Systems slips; Nike jumps; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Merrill upgraded Xerox (XRX ) to buy from neutral. Lehman upgraded to equal-weight from underweight. Yesterday, S&P reiterated its neutral rating following the company's investor conference.

Credence Systems (CMOS ) posted a 35 cents fourth-quarter loss (GAAP) on a 34% revenue rise. The maker of testing equipment for chipmakers sees a 24 cents to 26 cents first-quarter loss on $63 million to $66 million in revenue. The company believes net bookings will increase about 15%. S&P reiterates accumulate. Goldman rates underperform.

Merrill Lynch upgraded Nike (NKE ) to buy from neutral. On Monday the footwear and apparel company raised the quarterly dividend by 43%.

Staten Island Bank (SIB ) agreed to be acquired by Independence Community Bank (ICBC ) in a $1.5 billion deal. The terms are $23.88 per Staten Island Bank share, based on an exchange ratio of 0.6232 Independence Community Bank share for each Staten Island Bank share, subject to adjustment.

Citigroup (C ) says it will acquire Washington Mutual's (WM ) consumer finance subsidiary, Washington Mutual Finance Corp., for $1.25 billion. The deal will be accretive to Citigroup's 2004 earnings per share. S&P says buy Citigroup. UBS Financial downgraded WaMu to neutral from buy.

Discovery Laboratories (DSCO ) announced positive results for its Phase III trial of Surfaxin for Respiratory Distress Syndrome in premature infants. The company plans to use these results as the basis of a new-drug application with the FDA.

Autodesk (ADSK ) will cut 550 to 650 workers, close certain facilities; and take a $37 million restructure charge over the next four quarters. As a result, the design-software firm expects 24 cents to 30 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share GAAP, 4 cents to 10 cents first-quarter fiscal 2005 earnings per share GAAP, and 68 cents to 88 cents fiscal 2005 earnings per share GAAP.

Altria Group (MO ) says a New Hampshire jury concluded that Philip Morris USA should not be liable for smoker's lung-cancer death.

Condiments maker Heinz (HNZ ) posted second-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations (before special items) of 54 cents, vs. 48 cents one year earlier, on a 7.7% sales rise.

Eastman Kodak (EK ) will acquire Scitex Digital Printing unit from parent Scitex Corp. for $250 million cash.

Mylan Labs (MYL ) says its Mylan Technologies unit won final approval from the FDA for its fentanyl transdermal system, which is equivalent to Alza Corp.'s Duragesic. Final approval is granted notwithstanding patent litigation with Alza for Duragesic. USB Piper upgraded to outperform from market perform.

Gerber Scientific (GRB ) posted 12 cents, vs. 14 cents second-quarter earnings per share despite a slight sales rise. The company says it didn't see an upturn in business in the second quarter, and says visibility is low.

USB Piper upgraded education company DeVry (DV ) to market perform from underperform.

Laserscope (LSCP ) received FDA clearance to market its Aura laser for the treatment of acne.

Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN ) and Eli Lilly (LLY ) announced positive results from a pivotal study of exenatide (for diabetes), marking the conclusion of long-term human clinical trials required for regulatory submission to the FDA. Wachovia downgraded.

J.P. Morgan upgraded Viacom (VIA.B ) to overweight from neutral.

Novellus Systems (NVLS ) expects 6 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on revenue of $220 million, which is at the high end of the previous target. Novellus expects orders to rise 25% to $275 million from the third quarter's $220 million. Previously, Novellus had forecast growth of 5% to 10%.

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