GM Unit Inks Multi-Billion Loan Deal

Deere sells managed health care business; Sears posts better-than-expected earnings amid a sales drop; plus more stocks in the news Tuesday

General Motors (GM ) says GMAC and Scotia Capital inked a deal which calls for committed purchases by Scotia under a $6 billion revolving facility. The revolving facility represents a committed source of funding for $20 billion of GMAC US retail automotive contracts.

Deere (DE ) agreed to sell its managed health care business, John Deere Health Care, to UnitedHealth Group (UNH )'s unit UnitedHealthcare for $500 million in a stock purchase transaction.

Sears Holdings (SHLD ) posted better-than-expected 35 cents vs. $5.45 third quarter earnings per share on an 11% Sears domestic same-store sales drop and 2.8% drop at Kmart. The company blames the drop in gain on the sale of assets and restructuring charges. Kmart and Sears' merger completed on March 24 2005.

American Ecology (ECOL ) sees 85 cents to 90 cents 2005 earnings per share, including items. It expects "solid" fourth quarter earnings per share based on strong business performance at all four disposal facilities, and sees 72 cents to 82 cents 2006 earnings per share.

Aspen Insurance (AHL ) estimates retained losses from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, after recoveries from its outwards reinsurance program and the impact of re-instatement premiums, at $470 million to $535 million after tax.

McKesson (MCK ) set a $250 million stock buyback.

Exelixis (EXEL ) is in a collaboration deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY ) to develop novel cardiovascular disease treatments. Bristol-Myers Squibb is to make an upfront payment of $17.5 million to Exelixis and provide research and development funding of about $10 million per year for an initial period of two years.

Cephalon (CEPH ) is to acquire Zeneus Holdings for $360 million cash. It expects the deal to generate $100 million in additional sales next year, be neutral to earnings per share in 2006, and accretive to EPS thereafter.

Kansas City Southern (KSU ) says its largest shareholder, Grupo TMM (TMM ) has begun the public offering of 9 million Kansas City Southern shares. It also says it commenced the public offering of $210 million of a new series of its cumulative convertible perpetual preferred stock.

Devry (DV ) says that new undergrad enrollment for fall 2005 rose 6.4% vs. fall 2004; total undergrad enrollment fell 2.3%. It noted the negative effects from hurricanes in Houston and South Florida, and that it's grad school marketing programs did not achieve objectives.

Conagra Foods (CAG ) sees lower-than-expected 38 cents second quarter earnings per share from operations. It cites lower-than-expected shipment volume, revenue, higher operating costs, and a less favorable environment. It also notes that some of these factors will likely continue into the second half.

Altera (ALTR ) reaffirmed its previous fourth quarter sales guidance of $286 million to $297 million. It now sees gross margin of about 66.5%, up from previous guidance of 66.0%. Operating expenses are seen at about $114 million, up from prior $111 million guidance. The share count is seen at 368 million.

Comtech Telecommunications (CMTL ) posted 43 cents vs. 28 cents first quarter earnings per share (GAAP) on a sharp sales rise.

America's Car-Mart (CRMT ) posted 23 cents vs. 37 cents second quarter earnings per share despite a 5.9% same-store sales rise and 9.5% total sales rise. It cited rising energy prices and hurricanes. It also cut fiscal year 2006 earnings per share guidance to between $1.43 and $1.50. It also raises its stock buyback to 1 million shares.

Kroger (KR ) posted 25 cents vs. 19 cents third quarter earnings per share on a 9.1% sales rise.

Sanderson Farms (SAFM ) posted 50 cents vs. 25 cents fourth quarter earnings per share as lower costs offset a 3.9% sales drop.

Brocade Communications Systems (BRCD ) posted 7 cents vs. 8 cents fourth quarter earnings per share (non-GAAP) on 6% lower revenue.

Dillard's (DDS ) posted 3 cents third quarter loss vs. 23 cents loss on a 2% same-store sales rise and 1.7% total sales rise.

LM Ericsson Telephone (ERICY ) is in an exclusive managed services partnership with the mobile media company 3 to manage its 3G mobile network and information technology services operations in the UK.

Career Education (CECO ) says its American InterContinental University was placed on one-year probation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Maxim Integrated (MXIM ) expects second quarter revenue and earnings per share will be higher than previous guidance. It sees a sequential revenue increase of 5%, pro forma earnings per share (excluding the effect of stock based compensation) of 42 cents, and GAAP EPS of 34 cents a share.

TNT (TP ) is to sell its logistics business and appoints Goldman Sachs to assist in the sale. It sees revenue growth for its Express unit at 10% to 15% over the medium term vs. a previous forecast for the "high single-digit. It also sets a EUR 1 billion stock buyback.

Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes (GOL ) says it will respond to the Brazilian Security Commission (CVM) comment letter that requires it to expense costs incurred in connection with its IPO in 2004.

Tweeter Home Entertainment Group (TWTR ) posted 81 cents fourth quarter loss vs. 52 cents loss as higher costs offset a 10% same-store sales rise and 9% higher total sales.

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