Time Warner Climbs

United Technologies advances; Halliburton denies overcharges in Iraq; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Time Warner (TWX ) rose on news that Sony (SNE ) finalized an agreement to merge its music business with Germany's Bertelsmann, making it the second-largest record label in the world. The deal ignited speculation of industry consolidation; last month, Time Warner signed an agreement to sell its Warner Music business to a group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. for $2.6 billion. However, analysts says Time Warner's upbeat comments at a media conference earlier this week have been well-received.

United Technologies (UTX ) says it remains on track to achieve the previously anticipated 2003 earnings per share guidance of $4.65, and expects 2004 earnings per share within $5.00 to $5.30 range estimated by analysts on about a 10% revenue rise.

Halliburton (HAL ) denied accusations by the Pentagon that it may have overcharged the U.S. government by up to $61 million for fuel and other items as part of their work in Iraq. President Bush says the energy-services company should reimburse the government if the Pentagon confirms the charges. Seperately, Halliburton said it may be close to settling costly asbestos ligitation. S&P upgraded to accumulate, from hold.

Rambus (RMBS ) agreed to acquire Velio Communications to acquire certain Velio high-speed signaling assets. Rambus plans to integrate these assets into its RaSer product line.

AaiPharma (AAII ) says based upon current business performance and the overall outlook, it expects $1.45 to $1.52 2004 earnings per share, and $340 million to $355 million in revenue.

UBS Financial reportedly downgraded Ciena (CIEN ) to reduce from neutral. On Thursday the company posted a 24 fourth-quarter loss, vs. a $1.75 loss (GAAP) on a 14% revenue rise.

USB Piper upgraded Oxford Industries (OXM ) to strong buy from outperform.

Roth Capital initiated coverage on Eclipsys (ECLP ) with strong buy.

Technitrol (TNL ) sees $501 million to $505 million 2003 revenue, and 67 cents to 69 cents 2003 earnings per share excluding severance and asset impairment charges. Technitrol sees $535 million to $540 million in 2004 revenue, and 80 cents to 83 cents earnings per share excluding severance and asset impairment charges.

Adobe Systems (ADBE ) posted 34 cents, vs. 17 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 22% revenue rise, beating expectations. Adobe sees 33 cents to 36 cents first-quarter earnings per share on revenue of $360 million to $380 million.

Verity (VRTY ) posted better-than-expected 9 cents, vs. 7 cents second-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 26% revenue rise. The company sees 10 cents to 12 cents third-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on revenue of $29 million to $31 million, and sees 35 cents to 39 cents fiscal 2004 earnings per share (GAAP) on $114.5 million to $119.5 million revenue. McDonald upgraded to buy. S&P keeps avoid.

SoundView upgraded Brooks Automation (BRKS ) to outperform from neutral.

Electronic Data (EDS ) reportedly lost a 3 billion British pound ($5.2 billion) 10-year contract to provide information-technology services to British tax authority Inland Revenue Service.Cap Gemini Ernst & Young won the contract.

Chinadotcom (CHINA ) intends to reorganize its mobile and portal unit as a wholly-owned subsidiary, chinadotcom Mobile Interactive Corp. (CDC Mobile) and register an offering of CDC Mobile's American Depositary Shares.

China Life Insurance raised $3 billion in the year's biggest initial public offering after pricing its shares at 3.625 Hong Kong dollars ($0.47). China Life, which is also listing in the U.S., will begin trading in New York on Wednesday, Dec. 17 and in Hong Kong the following day.

Citigroup (C ) could face questions abnout its financing arrangement with Parmalat as the Italian company risks defaulting on its bonds, according to The Wall Street Journal .

Research In Motion (RIMM ) announced its addition to the Nasdaq-100, effective Dec. 22.

New Century Financial (NCEN ) will increase its quarterly cash dividend to 16 cents, from 10 cents, or 60%.

Applebee's (APPB ) raised its annual dividend by 17% and set a $80 million share buyback.

Schering AG (SHR ) received approval from 15 European countries to market Finacea 15% Gel for the topical treatment of papulopustular rosacea, a skin condition.

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