3M Jumps on Higher Outlook

MGM climbs; J Jill rallies; plus more of today's stocks in the news

3M (MMM ) raised the 80 cents to 82 cents first-quarter earnings per share guidance to 86 cents to 88 cents, and expects sales volume growth to be toward the higher end of a previously stated range of 5% to 8%; 3M, which makes Scotch brand tape, Post-it Notes, and touch computer screens, now forecasts $3.53 to $3.62 2004 earnings per share. Citigroup upgraded. S&P keeps hold.

Lehman Brothers (LEH ) posted $2.21, vs. $1.15 first-quarter earnings per share on 84% higher net revenue. S&P reiterates buy.

J Jill (JILL ) raised its first-quarter earnings per share guidance to 2 cents to 4 cents on sales of $97 million to $99 million, citing "extremely" positive customer reaction to its regular-price spring assortment. J Jill now sees 49 cents to 54 cents 2004 earnings per share. Banc of America upgraded the stock to buy.

Community First Bankshares (CFBX ) agreed to be acquired by BancWest Corp. for $32.25 per share, in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. Community First shares jumped on the news.

Isle of Capri (ISLE ) says it has been selected by the Illinois Gaming Board as a successful bidder for the 10th Illinois gaming license. Isle says it was selected by the gaming board after bidding $518 million at a bankruptcy auction held last week. Jefferies upgraded to buy.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM ) confirmed that it's considering various alternatives designed to distribute more of its wealth to shareholders. One such alternative being considered is a "significant" one-time dividend distribution to all shareholders. CS First Boston upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform. S&P maintains hold.

Swift Transportation (SWFT ) sees first-quarter earnings per share "significantly" below 19 cents. It anticipates falling "significantly" below its goal to reduce operating ratio by 3% this year due to bad weather, early retirement charges, the lack of driver availability, and higher fuel costs. Merrill Lynch cut the earnings estimates.

Tenet Healthcare (THC ) posted a $2.05 fourth-quarter loss, vs. a 6 cents loss on 8.9% lower net operating revenue, and $1.12 billion in impairment and restructuring charges. Tenet expects to have "significant" negative cash flows of roughly $500 million to $600 million in 2004, excluding legal settlements.

New York Times (NYT ) says given results to date, total revenues for the first quarter are likely to be roughly on par with the same period last year; as a result, the publishing company expects 33 cents to 36 cents earnings per share. New York Times reiterated its low-to mid-single 2004 earnings per share growth rate guidance.

Countrywide Financial (CFC ) set a 3-for-2 stock split.

Take-Two Interactive (TTWO ) named Richard W. Roedel as non-executive chairman, following Ryan Brant's decision to resign as chairman. Banc of America upgraded the stock to buy from neutral.

Vaxgen (VXGN ) filed form 12b-25 with the SEC indicating it will require up to 15 additional calendar days from Mar. 15 to file its Form 10-K for 2003.

Metris (MXT ) posted 39 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share, vs. an 88 cents loss. Metris was also was awarded $1.7 billion in financing. Bear Stearns upgraded to peer perform from underperform.

Genzyme (GENZ ) revised fourth-quarter 2003 earnings per share (GAAP basis) to 25 cents, and revised total sales to $476.1 million to reflect last week's judicial decision in case pertaining to its U.K. unit.

United Technologies (UTX ) confirmed that representatives of the European Commission recently conducted unannounced inspections at offices of its Otis subsidiaries in Brussels, Luxembourg, and Berlin.

SafeCo (SAFC ) inked a deal to sell its life and investments operations to a group of investors led by White Mountains Insurance (WTM ) and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A ) for $1.35 billion. Separately, SafeCo inked a deal to sell its Talbot Financial Corp. insurance brokerage operations for $90 million. S&P keeps hold.

Monster Worldwide (MNST ) acquired Military Advantage for $39.5 million in cash.

Pacific Growth cut estimates for Foundry Networks (FDRY ), citing the company's back-end loaded quarter. Separately, Foundry files a lawsuit against Lucent (LU ) alleging that some of Lucent's products infringe upon one of Foundry's patents.

Om Group (OMG ) sees a restatement of 1999-03 financials due to an independent investigation being completed by an audit committee. Om expects a negative effect on 1999-01 earnings per share, and a positive effect on 2002-03 earnings per share. The company also delayed the filing of its 2003 10-K.

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