Stewart Judge Drops Fraud Charge

Kohl's advances; Noven Pharmaceuticals rises; plus more of today's stocks in the news

The judge in the Martha Stewart case dropped the securities fraud charge against the celebrity. She still faces the less serious charges of obstruction of justice and for lying to investigators about the timing of her sale of ImClone Systems (IMCL ). The judge said prosecutors had failed to present sufficient evidence to allow the jury to decide the matter. Shares of Stewart's company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO ), rose following the announcement.

Endo Pharmaceuticals (ENDP ) is seen higher in sympathy with Noven Pharmaceuticals (NOVN ), which was upgraded on Friday by Deutsche Bank. On Thursday, Endo agreed to license from Noven its U.S. and Canadian rights to Noven's developmental transdermal fentanyl patch.

Banc of America upgraded Medimmune (MEDI ) to buy from neutral.

Department-store chain Kohl's (KSS ) posted better than expected 72 cents, vs. 81 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 2.1% lower same-store sales, and 12% higher total sales. Piper Jaffray raised its target and reiterates outperform. S&P keeps hold.

Design automation and software company Autodesk (ADSK ) posted 48 cents, vs. 6 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 51% revenue rise. Autodesk sees 12 cents to 17 cents first-quarter earnings per share on $240 million to $250 million in revenue, and 94 cents to $1.04 fiscal 2005 earnings per share. S&P and Piper Jaffray raised their estimates.

SPX Corp. (SPW ) posted $1.30, vs. 99 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations on a 10% revenue rise. The maker of power transformers, antennas, and industrial equipment reportedly sees $3.41 to $3.60 2004 earnings per share from continuing operations on total revenue growth of 5%. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup downgraded. S&P reiterates hold.

Banc of America raised its estimates and target on Genentech (DNA ), and reiterated its buy rating. S&P reiterates hold. On Thursday, Genentech received FDA approval of Avastin for the treatment of metastatic cancer of the colon or rectum.

JP Morgan reportedly upgraded travel consolidator (PCLN ) to neutral from underweight.

Gap (GPS ) posted 37 cents, vs. 27 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share on 3% higher same-store sales, and 5% higher total sales. The retailer says over the next two years, it expects it can achieve operating margins in the mid-teens.

Data storage-equipment maker McData (MCDTA ) posted 7 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, vs. a 7 cents loss (GAAP) on an 8% revenue rise. McData says it's comfortable with First Call consensus estimates of breakeven to 2 cents first-quarter earnings per share (non-GAAP). S&P upgraded to hold. Schwab SoundView upped its estimates.

Genzyme (GENZ ) agreed to acquire Ilex Oncology (ILXO )in a stock deal valued at about $1 billion.

First Albany upgraded OSI Pharmaceuticals (OSIP ) to buy from neutral on price.

Disney (DIS ) says more than 30% of its shareholders could withhold support from CEO Eisner at next week's annual meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal .

Gemstar-TV Guide (GMST ) and Pioneer Electric signed licensing deals by which Pioneer will incorporate the company's program guide into digital TVs and recorders. Gemstar will receive a $14 million one-time payment. All outstanding litigation between the companies has been resolved.

Vasogen (VSGN ) priced 8.5 million shares at $5.90 per share.

Payless Shoesource (PSS ) posted 25 fourth-quarter loss, vs. 7 earnings per share on 1.0% lower same-store sales and flat total sales. Payless says it plans to open 65 to 75 new stores during fiscal 2005.

Exxon Mobil (XOM ) elected Senior Vice President Rex Tillerson as president.

Sun Microsystems (SUNW ) says its server factory revenue grew 20% sequentially, and says it that experienced unit growth of 21.3% year over year across all operating systems, according to IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker.

Albertson's (ABS ) says the United Food & Commercial Workers announced a tentative agreement in the Southern California strike.

Marvell Technologies (MRVL ) posted 14 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share (GAAP), vs. a 20 cents loss on a 61% revenue rise. It sets a 2-for-1 stock split.

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