Media Services Soars

Gannett profit climbs; American Italian Pasta drops; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Media Services (MSGI ) acquired Future Developments America in an all-cash deal. The terms were not immediately released. The company says it's optimistic that Future Developments should generate revenues in excess of $10 million for fiscal 2005, yielding double-digit pretax income.

Publisher Gannett (GCI ) posted $1.00, vs. 93 cents first-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on 11% higher total operating revenue.

American Italian Pasta (PLB ) sees 40 cents to 42 cents second-quarter earnings per share, vs. the previous 48 cents estimate, citing rapidly changing pasta trends. S&P cut its estimates, and reiterates hold. Wachovia downgraded to market perform.

Morgan Keegan cut its estimates on Compudyne (CDCY ). Late Thursday, the company forecast first-quarter earnings per share well below estimates due to the continuing severe impact on revenues from a sustained drop in backlogs over the past five quarters, costs from a note offering, and high legal expenses.

Banc of America upgraded Comcast (CMCSA ) to buy from neutral.

Entercom Communications (ETM ) expects to report about $87 million in first-quarter revenue, exceeding the previous guidance.

CS First Boston initiated coverage on Gillette (G ) with underperform.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB ) raised the 85 cents to 87 cents first-quarter earnings per share forecast to 91 cents on strong top-line growth, lower costs, and a lower effective tax rate. The consumer-products maker sees 2004 earnings per share at the high end of the $3.55 to $3.65 target. But it notes the second quarter will be hurt by increases in raw material costs.

J.P. Morgan downgraded Abbott Laboratories (ABT ) to underweight from neutral. On Thursday the drugmkaer posted 52 cents, vs. 51 cents first-quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a 14% sales rise. It forecast $2.40 to $2.48 2004 earnings per share, excluding one-time charges.

DuPont (DD ), the No. 2 U.S. chemicals maker, on Monday said it will cut 3,500 jobs, or 6% of its work force, as part of a plan to cut costs by $900 million.

SciQuest (SQST ) agreed to be acquired by Trinity Ventures in a deal valued at $25.25 million. The cash per share is currently estimated to be about $6.25.

Computer Associates (CA ) announced three former finance executives plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruction of justice in connection with an ongoing investigation of past accounting practices.

Mellon Financial (MEL ) agreed to acquire Safeco Trust Co. from Safeco (SAFC ). The terms of the agreement not disclosed.

New York Times (NYT ) posted 38 cents, vs. 45 cents first-quarter earnings per share on a 2.3% revenue rise and 3.1% higher ad revenue. The publisher posted 8.6% higher March advertising revenue for business units, and 5.8% higher total company revenue.

Microsoft (MSFT ) agreed to settle a three-year-old patent suit related to technology used to prevent the unauthorized copying of music and video files. Microsoft will make a one-time payment of $440 million to InterTrust Technologies, thus resolving all outstanding litigation between the two companies.

Komag (KOMG ), a maker of thin-film media, expects first-quarter revenue to exceed fourth-quarter 2003's $118.2 million, and expects operating results to be similar to fourth-quarter 2003's $21 million.

RailAmerica (RRA ) cut the 75 cents to 85 cents 2004 earnings per share from continuing operations estimate to 55 cents to 65 cents, citing charge of 18 cents to 20 cents in the second quarter in connection with former president and CEO Gary Marino's retirement.

Semitool (SMTL ), which makes service equipment for chipmakers, won a judgment in Federal District Court as part of the counterclaim portion of a patent infringement suit filed against Novellus (NVLS ).

There are signs that Odyssey Healthcare (ODSY ) can't keep up with its heady growth, such as higher labor and drug costs. There are also suggestions that the level of care and services Odyssey provides are below standards: Barron's.

Standard Microsystems (SMSC ) posted 17 cents, vs. 6 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations on a 22% revenue rise. The chipmaker sees $51 million to $55 million in first-quarter fiscal 2005 revenue, and 13 cents to 17 cents earnings per share.

Micron Technology (MU ) CEO Steve Appleton reportedly told Reuters that memory chip prices are firming, and that he thinks the outlook for 2004 is "pretty strong." Appleton says he believes Micron will be profitable under current market conditions.

Disney's (DIS ) epic film The Alamo came in with a "disappointing" opening weekend, according to Schwab SoundView, which says this adds another title to a string of disappointments this year for Disney's studio.

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