U.S. Steel Gains

Western Digital, Express Scripts issue earnings forecasts; American Woodmark hammered by rising expenses; plus more stocks in the news Tuesday

U.S. Steel (X ) shares rose Tuesday after its board elected John Surma, Jr., as chairman, succeeding Thomas Usher, who will retire. JP Morgan reportedly added the stock to its focus list.

SkillSoft (SKIL ) posted 6 cents vs. 4 cents third quarter earnings per share on a 2.7% revenue rise. It sees $52.2 million to $54.0 million fourth quarter revenue, and 3 cents to 5 cents earnings per share. It also raises its 29 cents to 33 cents fiscal year 2006 earnings per share forecast to 33 cents to 35 cents.

Western Digital (WDC ) sees second quarter non-GAAP earnings per share of 36 cents to 39 cents on revenue of about $1.04 billion to $1.75 billion.

Express Scripts (ESRX ) sees $3.10 to $3.22 2006 earnings per share, including 10 cents per share in stock option expense. It says financial performance will continue to benefit from growth in generic utilization and home delivery.

Applebee's (APPB ) posted 0.7% higher same-store sales for the 4-week period ending 11/20, rising 1.4% for franchise restaurants and falling 1.4% for company restaurants.

American Woodmark (AMWD ) posted 37 cents vs. 67 cents second quarter earnings per share despite a 7.7% sales rise, below 50 cents to 60 cents guidance. It noted lower-than-expected sales, transportation expense, inefficiencies in labor, and overhead costs. It also sees 20 cents to 30 cents third quarter earnings per share.

Viropharma (VPHM ) plans to offer 7 million shares in a public offering.

Inter Parfums (IPAR ) sees 83 cents 2006 earnings per share on sales of about $301 million. Earnings per share guidance for 2006 includes an after-tax charge of approximately 3 cents to reflect the impact of accounting for share-based compensation.

Everest Re Group (RE ) estimates losses arising from Hurricane Wilma at $230 million on an after-tax basis.

Sycamore Network (SCMR ) posted better-than-expected 2 cents first quarter earnings per share vs. 3 cents loss (GAAP) on a 92% revenue rise.

Gymboree (GYMB ) posted 22% higher November same-store sales and 25% higher total sales. It expects fourth quarter same-store sales will be in the positive mid-single digits, and sees 40 cents to 42 cents fourth quarter earnings per share from continuing operations, as well as 80 cents to 82 cents in fiscal year 2006.

Northeast Utilities (NU ) plans to publicly offer 16.5 million shares.

Empire Resorts (NYNY ) received a favorable court ruling as the US Supreme Court rejected appeals by individuals protesting a law authorizing the creation of casinos in the Catskills.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX ) says PT Freeport Indonesia's (PT-FI) production is currently tracking 5% below PT-FI's quarterly estimated copper sales, and 10% below quarterly estimated gold sales.

Gamestop (GME ) posted 4 cents third quarter loss vs. 22 cents earnings per share on a 12% same-store sales drop and 28% total sales rise. It noted major software titles released in the third quarter of 2004. It also sees flat to +2.0% fourth quarter same-store sales and 98 cents to $1.02 earnings per share, as well as $1.65 to $1.70 in fiscal year 2006 earnings per share.

Sycamore Network (SCMR ) posted better-than-expected 2 cents first quarter earnings per share vs. 3 cents loss (GAAP) on a 92% revenue rise.

Ahold (AHO ) posted a €0.15 third quarter loss vs. €0.09 loss on flat sales after it settled a securities class-action suit. The company is to reorganize its US foodservice business into two operating companies and expects a fourth quarter restructuring charge.

Rambus (RMBS ) The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung Electronics Co. admitted to conspiring with other companies to fix the price of chips that use Rambus technology; the WSJ says this could aid Rambus' antitrust suit against Samsung and other chipmakers.

Albemarle First Bank (AFBK )said that a deal whereby it would be acquired by Millennium Bankshares (MBVA ) failed to obtain necessary approvals from Millenium Bankshares shareholders.

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