Google, Comcast Reportedly Seeking AOL Stake

McDonald's posts higher sales; plus more of Thursday's stocks in the news

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google (GOOG ), and Comcast (CMCSA ) could bid as much as $5 billion to buy a minority stake in AOL's Web site network and instant messaging business. But Time Warner's (TWX ) CEO reportedly says the possible sale of the stake in AOL to those companies was a "market rumor."

McDonald's (MCD ) posted 3.9% higher September same-store sales for McDonald's restaurants. It says September global systemwide sales rose 6.3% and 6% in the third quarter. It says it had preliminary third quarter earnings per share of about 58 cents including a 2 cents gain. S&P kept a strong buy on the stock.

Refco (RFX ) trading was halted pending news. Wednesday the company's CEO was charged with securities fraud. S&P Ratings cut the company's credit rating.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings (CME ) said that accounting, liquidity, and regulatory issues at Refco (RFX ) are reportedly weighing on it as Refco accounts for significant business at Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Bell Microproducts (BELM ) said it sees 7 cents to 9 cents third quarter earnings per share on revenue of about $760 million. It cited weakness in sales and profits in its European distribution organization due to currency effects, as well as decisions to eliminate certain low and marginally profitable product sales.

As a result of a continuing strong industry and customer demand, Komag (KOMG ) expects total third quarter revenue of about $180 million. It cited a favorable product mix shift to a higher percentage of 100 gigobytes (GB), above high-capacity 3.5-inch disks.

Lam Research (LRCX ) Posted better-than-expected 35 cents vs. 64 cents first quarter earnings per share on a 24% revenue decline.

The Food and Drug Administration seized about 6,000 company-owned Colleague Volumetric Infusion Pumps made by Baxter (BAX ), and approximately 850 Syndeo Syringe Pumps currently on hold by the company at two facilities in Northern Ill.; customer-owned pumps were not seized.

SunLink Health Systems (SSY ) received an unsolicited offer from North Atlantic Value and its affiliates to acquire SunLink for $10.25 per share cash. The management, board of directors, and professional advisors will evaluate the offer.

Alliance Imaging (AIQ ) sees third quarter revenue of about $106 million and adjusted earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortizaiton (EBITDA) of $39 million to $39.5 million. It says greater-than-anticipated softness in scan volumes, the effect of hurricanes, rising fuel and transportation costs will impact results for the rest of 2005 and into 2006.

VNUS Medical Technologies (VNUS ) seeks an injunction vs. Angiodynamics Vascular Solutions from selling endovenous laser ablation products for use in procedures that VNUS believes infringe several of its patents; the company also seeks monetary damages.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY ) says Novartis (NVS ) made a payment of about $58.5 million to Alnylam for about 5.3 million of newly issued Alnylam shares at $11.11 each. Novartis now holds 19.9% of Alnylam's shares outstanding; Novartis is obligated to make an additional payment of $10 million.

Lone Star Technologies (LSS ) sees $1.55 to $1.65 third quarter earnings per share, which reflects the negative impact of Hurricane Rita.

HCA (HCA ) sees 61 cents to 63 cents third quarter earnings per share, including adverse financial impact from hurricanes Katrina and Rita of about $33 million pretax, or 5 cents earnings per share.

Polaris Industries (PII ) posted $1.17 vs. $1.00 third quarter earnings per share from continuing operations on a 6% sales rise. It cut its 2005 earnings per share from continuing operations guidance to $3.24 to $3.29, reflecting near term softness in North American ATV retail sales.

Arris Group (ARRS ) raises its third quarter earnings per share guidance to between 16 cents and 18 cents, and its revenue to $197 million to $201 million. It cited strong demand across all product categories.

AMCORE Financial (AMFI ) posted 50 cents vs. 49 cents third quarter earnings per share on a 7% rise in net interest income and a 14% rise in non-interest income.

Landstar System (LSTR ) posted 60 cents vs. 35 cents third quarter earnings per share on a 28% rise in revenue, which includes $130 million of disaster relief revenue, or 19% of third quarter revenue. It says operating margin rose to 8.7% from 6.8%.

Insight Communications (ICCI ) completed its consent solicitation of holders of its outstanding 12 1/4% senior discount notes due 2011 for the proposed waiver of an indenture provision relating to its merger agreement with Insight Acq. Corp.

Fairchild Semiconductor International (FCS ) posted a 17 cents third quarter loss (including the restructructuring costs) vs. 11 cents earnings per share on 16% lower sales. It sees fourth quarter revenue rising 5% quarter over quarter and gross margin rising 200 to 300 basis points quarter over quarter.

Clayton Williams Energy (CWEI ) said it will record a third quarter pre-tax charge of $7.3 million, and a fourth quarter pre-tax charge of $1.6 million for plugging and abandoning two wells. It notes it has incurred about $2.2 million in drilling costs net to its interest to date.

TETRA Technologies (TTI ) says it is probable that third quarter earnings per share will be significantly below the consensus estimate of 36 cents, due to losses in September tied to hurricanes.

Ballard Power Systems (BLDP ) announced that Dennis Campbell has stepped down as president and CEO, following the recent sale of the company's German unit and the company's recently completed restructuring. It named John Sheridan as interim president and CEO.

Kopin (KOPN ) Solomon Systech will sell Kopin's plug-and-play Binocular Display Module products to Mobile Video Eyewear in China under a marketing agreement between the companies.

Impac Mortgage Holdings (IMH ) set a five million share buyback.

Bois d'Arc Energy (BDE ) Since resuming drilling operations after disruptions caused by Katrina and Rita, it says the company drilled three successful wells and one dry hole since reporting its second quarter results, bringing the total successful wells drilled in 2005 to 15 out of 17 to date.

Knape & Vogt Manufacturing (KNAP ) retained the investment banking firm of W.Y. Campbell & Co. to act as its financial advisor in evaluating strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company.

Central Coast Bancorp (CCBN ) agreed to be acquired by the Dutch financial services company Rabobank for $371 million or $25 per share in cash.

Plains Exploration & Production (PXP ) As a result of oil price increases during the third quarter, consistent with prior periods in which oil prices have increased, the company says it expects to record a pre-tax charge to its income of $142 million related to mark-to-market derivative contracts.

Buckle (BKE ) set a 500,000 share buyback.

Apple Computer (AAPL ) the research firm IDC announced it expects sales of compressed audio (MP3) players to reach $145.4 billion and 945.5 million units in 2009, from about $47 billion and 225 million, respectively, in 2004.

KFX (KFX ) In its 8-K, says Matthew Elledge, vice president and chief financial officer, has informed the company of his intention to resign on or about Nov. 9 2005, to pursue other business ventures.

Main Street Restaurant Group (MAIN ) received a $5.75-per-share takeover offer from Bradford Honigfeld, the owner of Wendy's and T.G.I. Friday's.

Richardson Electronics (RELL ) posted 9 cents vs. 5 cents first quarter earnings per share on a 14% sales rise.

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