Biotechs Up as Frist Backs Stem Cell Research

Wendy's reports lower profit, cuts outlook; MetLife earnings climb; plus more of Friday's stocks in the news

Wendy's (WEN ) posted second quarter earnings per share of 61 cents, vs. 62 cents one year earlier. The fast-food chain lowered its 2005 earnings per share outlook to $2.20-$2.26. It plans to sell 15%-18% of its Tim Hortons unit in an IPO by the end of the 2006 first quarter. The company sets a $1 billion stock buyback and raised its annual dividend by 25% to 68 cents.

Stemcells Inc. (STEM ), Geron Corp. (GERN ), and Aastrom Biosciences (ASTM ) were among the biotechs higher Friday after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threw his support behind legislation to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research.

Synaptics (SYNA ) shares plunged after the company posted fourth quarter earnings per share of 41 cents, vs. 13 cents, on a 62% revenue rise. The company sees first quarter fiscal 2006 revenue down 9%-10% sequentially. Bear Stearns and First Albany each downgraded the shares.

International Rectifier (IRF ) fell sharply after posting fourth quarter earnings per share of 35 cents, vs. 42 cents (GAAP), on 6.5% lower consolidated revenue. UBS Financial downgraded the shares to neutral from buy. S&P upgraded the stock to strong buy from buy.

MetLife's (MET ) second-quarter profit more than doubled to $3.02 a share from $1.26 a year ago.

Whole Foods Market's (WFMI ) second quarter earnings rose to 60 cents a share from 48 cents a year ago.

Baker Hughes (BHI ) posted second quarter earnings per share of 64 cents, vs. 35 cents, on an 18% revenue rise. It sees earnings per share of 64 cents to 67 cents for the third quarter and $2.52 to $2.60 for 2005.

News Corp.'s (NWS ) Deputy Chief Operating Officer Lachlan Murdoch reportedly resigns.

Mercury Interactive (MERQ ) posted second quarter earnings per share (GAAP) of 19 cents, vs. 11 cents, on a 30% revenue rise. The company says it did not meet all second quarter targets due to a shortfall in Europe.

Hot Topic (HOTT ) says same-store sales month-to-date through July 27 decreased about 5%; as a result, it sees second quarter earnings per share of 2 cents to 4 cents. The company says sales trends in July were very disappointing as men's and women's apparel and accessories were below expectations.

Lear (LEA ) posted a second quarter loss per share of 66 cents, vs. $1.58 earnings per share, as costs and charges offset a 3.2% sales rise. The company sees $3.9 billion in third quarter sales, flat with a year ago, and a loss per share of 70 cents to 90 cents, including costs. It sees $17 billion in 2005 sales, and results in a range of a 25-cent loss per share to 15 cents earnings per share, including costs.

Microstrategy (MSTR ) posted second quarter earnings per share of $1.12, vs. 67 cents, on a 31% revenue rise.

KLA-Tencor (KLAC ) posted fourth quarter earnings per share of 52 cents, vs. 48 cents, on a 9% revenue rise.

Symantec (SYMC ) posted second quarter earnings per share of 27 cents, vs. 16 cents (GAAP), on a 26% revenue rise.

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