Accenture Drops

Storage Technologies climbs; Applebee's warns; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Accenture (ACN ) posted 33 cents, vs. 27 cents first-quarter earnings per share (including a 6 cent gain) on an 11% revenue rise before reimbursements. Analysts were expecting, on average, earnings of 28 cents per share. The consulting firm sees 21 cents to 27 cents second-quarter earnings per share on $3.1 billion to $3.25 billion revenue. It sees 8% to 12% 2004 revenue growth. Pacific Growth says margins are disappointing, and keeps equal-weight.

American Italian Pasta (PLB ) sees lower-than-expected 44 cents to 45 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and $2.55 to $2.70 fiscal 2004 earnings per share on sales of $490 million to $520 million. The pasta maker initiated a $0.1875 quarterly dividend. S&P, Bear Stearns, and Legg Mason downgraded.

Storage Technologies (STK ) expects fourth-quarter total revenue in excess of $650 million, and earnings per share in excess of 55 cents. The results are stronger than expected. UBS raised its estimates and target, and maintains the neutral rating. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Applebee's International (APPB ) posted 2.8% higher December comparison sales for company restaurants. The results were negatively affected by more severe winter weather. Applebees's sees system-wide comp sales of at least +3% for 2004, and $1.98 to $2.02 2004 earnings per share.

Banc of America upgraded Toys R Us (TOY ) to neutral from sell.

TheraSense (THER ), a maker of glucose monitoring systems, agreed to be acquired by Abbott Laboratories (ABT ) for $1.2 billion cash, or $27 per share -- a 33% premium to TheraSense's closing price on Jan. 13.

Transkaryotic Therapeutics (TKTX ) will cease efforts to seek U.S. approval of the Replagal enzyme replacement therapy for Fabry disease from the FDA. Based on a preliminary review of vial shipments, the company expects fourth-quarter Replagal product sales to approximate third-quarter sales.

Genzyme (GENZ ) says fourth-quarter revenue was $479 million, vs. a year ago's $298 million. S&P reiterated its buy opinion. Schwab SoundView raised its estimates.

Medco Health Solutions (MHS ) announced a multi-year agreement to provide administrative support services for the pharmaceutical-benefit management enterprises of UnitedHealthcare (UNH ), and its other businesses.

Inamed (IMDC ) sees $1.90 to $2.00 2004 earnings per share (GAAP) on an expected rise in total sales at a low-double digit rate over sales in 2003. S&P reiterated its hold rating and cut the estimate and price target.

Storage Technologies (STK ) expects fourth-quarter total revenue in excess of $650 million, and earnings per share in excess of 55 cents. The results are stronger than the company expected. S&P reiterates accumulate.

SAP (SAP ) sees about 3% lower fourth-quarter software revenue, and about 3% lower total revenue.

Tetra Technologies (TTI ) sees $1.09-$1.39 2004 earnings per share. Tetra will aggressively pursue expansion through internal growth and external acquisitions in 2004; it doesn't anticipate acquiring anything that would not be accretive within the first year.

State Street (STT ) posted 71 cents, vs. 54 cents fourth-quarter operating earnings per share on a 23% operating revenue rise.

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