Medco Health Falls

Biogen soars; advances; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Medco Health (MHS ) cut the $1.75 to $1.86 2004 GAAP earnings per share guidance to $1.64 to $1.75 on the loss of a Blue Cross Blue Shield mail order account serving federal employees starting in 2005. S&P downgraded; First Albany cut its estimate.

Ireland-based drugmaker Elan (ELN ) and biotech giant Biogen IDEC (BIIB ) plan to submit to the FDA an application for approval of Antegren as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. The companies expect to submit a filing by mid-year 2004 -- a year ahead of schedule. Analysts estimate the market for MS treatment to be worth about $4 billion. First Albany and AG Edwards upgraded Biogen to buy, while S&P kept its accumulate ranking. Seperately, Elan posted negative fourth-quarter EBITDA of $34.9 million on $157.5 million in revenue. (NTES ) posted $11.4 million, vs. $5.2 million in fourth-quarter net profit on a 77% revenue rise.

Caremark RX (CMX ) says Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's Federal Employee Program selected it to administer its standard option mail-service program starting in 2005.

Brooktrout (BRKT ) posted 15 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, vs. an 8 cents loss on a 29% revenue rise. The company sees $21 million to $22.5 million in first-quarter revenue. Raymond James raised its estimates, and reiterates strong buy.

Rambus (RMBS ) says an anti-trust suit brought against the company by the Federal Trade Commission was dismissed in its entirety. Rambus was charged with illegally monopolizing key computer chip technologies.

Broadcom (BRCM ) announced it will hold a conference call after the close of trading Wednesday "to discuss its stronger business outlook." S&P thinks Broadcom will raise its March-quarter revenue guidance, and reiterates the hold ranking.

S&P says shares of Providian Financial (PVN ) are under pressure following a Financial Times report that Barclays has broken off talks on buying Providian. S&P reiterates accumulate.

Disney (DIS ) agreed to acquire the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House characters from Jim Henson Company. The terms were not disclosed. On Tuesday Disney's board rejected a $66 billion hostile takeover offer from cable giant Comcast.

Electronics and testing equipment maker Agilent Technologies (A ) posted 21 cents first-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 23 cents loss on a 16% revenue rise. Agilent says without a normal first-quarter drop, it is somewhat cautious about assuming the usual seasonal rise in second-quarter activity. S&P reiterates hold.

El Paso (EP ) will take a fourth-quarter pre-tax ceiling test charge of about $1 billion (assuming all adjustments are reflected at Dec. 31, 2003).

Apria Healthcare (AHG ) posted 58 cents, vs. 72 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite an 8% revenue rise.

Network Appliances (NTAP ) posted 11 cents, vs. 6 cents third-quarter earnings per share (pro forma) on a 30% revenue rise. First Albany raised its estimate. S&P reiterates avoid.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF ) posted 96 cents, vs. 93 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite 11% lower same-store sales. The retailer initiated a 50 cents annual dividend. Abercrombie says it's comfortable with the current 26 cents first-quarter earnings per share estimate. Wachovia upgraded to outperform, and S&P keeps accumulate.

Kos Pharmaceuticals (KOSP ) posted 49 cents, vs. 18 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on a 59% revenue rise.

Jack In The Box (JBX ) posted 58 cents, vs. 56 cents first-quarter earnings per share from operations on 3.1% higher same-store sales. The quick-service restaurant sees 28 cents second-quarter earnings per share, and raised the $1.68 fiscal 2004 earnings per share guidance to $1.74 (excluding charges). Citigroup raised its estimates. S&P reiterates hold.

Jones Apparel (JNY ) posted 33 cents, vs. 39 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share despite a 1.2% net sales rise. The retailer sees 55 cents to 60 cents first-quarter earnings per share, and 55 cents to 60 cents in the second quarter.

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