Wendy's Declines

Red Hat slips; Avid Technology drops; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Wendy's International (WEN ) reduced the 12% to 15% long-term earnings per share growth target to 11% to 13%, citing higher beef costs and other expenses. Wendy's sees $2.27 to $2.32 2004 earnings per share. The restaurant chain also announced a dividend increase and other actions. S&P keeps its hold ranking. Shares fell.

Red Hat (RHAT ) has benefited from a lack of pure-play bets on the continuing growth of the market for Linux sftwre, but Novell's recent acquisition of SuSe creates a well-heeled second player. Red Hat has a bigger market share, but Novell has 10 times the revenues, according to Barron's . Shares fell.

First Albany downgraded Avid Technology (AVID ) to neutral from buy. The video editing company expects greater volatility and a wider trading range for Avid shares over the next few months. On Friday Avid posted 47 cents, vs. 15 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 13% higher revenue. Shares dropped.

BearingPoint (BE ) believes December-quarter revenue will exceed the top end of the previously provided guidance of $730 million to $760 million. The consulting firm confirmed the previous earnings per share guidance of 4 cents to 6 cents, subject to any charges relating to the changing of fiscal-end and final audit results. Shares rose.

Time Warner Telecom (TWTC ) shares moved solidly lower after the company reported 3% higher fourth-quarter EBITDA despite a 3.2% revenue decline. The company says a contraction in carrier revenue and lower intercarrier compensation rates overshadowed enterprise growth. It expects 2004 capital spending of $150 million to $175 million.

Viacom (VIA ) is nearing a decision to spin off Blockbuster (BBI ), having so far failed to reach a deal with a buyer, according to The New York Times. Blockbuster shares slipped.

Centex (CTX ) completed the distribution to its stockholders of all of shares of Centex Construction Products held by Centex.

CS First Boston upgraded Children's Place (PLCE ) to outperform from neutral.

Humana (HUM ) posted 41 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 1-cent loss on a 10% total revenue rise, beating the average analyst estimate of 40 cents. The health-benefits company sees 40 cents to 42 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and $1.60 to $1.65 2004 earnings per share on about $13 billion in total revenues.

Ford Motor (F ) reportedly says production capacity will limit sales of its F-Series full-size pickups this year. Deutsche Bank downgraded its rating on the shares to sell from hold, citing reduced confidence in the auto maker's ability to meet its mid-decade earnings goal.

Boston Scientific (BSX ) shares moved lower after the company posted 17 cents vs. 15 cents fourth-quarter EPS on a 15% revenue rise (including foreign exchange effects). S&P reiterates accumulate.

Take-Two Interactive (TTWO ) cut its first-quarter guidance to earnings per share of 70 cents on sales of $385 million, and cut its fiscal 2004 estimate to $2.45 earnings per share on sales of $1.22 billion. The compnay delayed filing its fiscal 2003 annual report; and will restate its financial results back to fiscal 1999.

Tower Semiconductor (TSEM ) posted a 91-cent fourth-quarter loss per share, vs. a 33-cent loss, despite a 27% revenue rise. Tower sees $23 million to $25 million in first-quarter revenues.

XM Satellite Radio (XMSR ) says General Motors (GM ) announced at the National Automobile Dealer Association Conference that it will be increasing XM Satellite availability to more than 50 cars and trucks in the 2005 model year.

British newspaper The Observer said on Feb. 1 that the CEO of Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone operator, is believed to have told financial advisors to draft documents to try to persuade investors that a bid for AT&T Wireless (AWE ) is a good idea. Vodafone may offer $30 billion for the company, which put itself up for sale.

Playtex Products (PYX ) shares dropped sharply after the company said it sees $146.7 million in fourth-quarter sales and full-year 2003 EPS of 30 cents, including 7 cents in charges. Playtex sees 2004 EPS of 30 cents to 33 cents, and plans an offering of senior secured notes. S&P cut its recommendation on the shares to avoid. But Lehman Bros. is encouraged by potential improvement in Playtex's financial flexibility.

JP Morgan reportedly downgraded Safeway (SWY ) to underweight from neutral.

Accredo Health (ACDO ) posted 41 cents, vs. 36 cents second-quarter earnings per share on a 5.5% revenue rise. Accredo reiterated its $1.5 billion to $1.55 billion fiscal 2004 revenue guidance. The company also raised the $1.58 to $1.62 fiscal 2004 earnings per share estimate range to $1.58 to $1.63. Accredo sees $1.75 billion to $1.80 billion in fiscal 2005 revenue, and $1.82 to $1.87 earnings per share.

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