Investor Group to Buy HCA

AMD to buy ATI Technologies for $5.4 billion; Merck, Schering announce higher earnings; plus more stocks in the news Monday

From Standard & Poor's Equity Research

HCA (HCA) agrees to be acquired by affiliates of three private equity sponsors and the HCA Founder in a deal valued at about $33 billion, including $11.7 billion debt assumption. HCA holders are to get $51 cash per share. Separately, the company posts 72 cents second quarter earnings per share (EPS.)

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) agrees to acquire ATI Technologies (ATYT) in a deal valued at approximately $5.4 billion.

In an 8-K filing, Barnes & Noble (BKS) says it has been informed by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is conducting an informal inquiry into the company's stock option practices.

NovaGold Resources (NG) Barrick Gold says it plans to make an offer to acquire all shares of NovaGold in order to consolidate its interest in the Donlin Creek project in British Columbia, a deal valued at about $1.29 billion.

Exco Resources (XCO) agrees to buy Winchester Energy Co., Ltd. and its affiliated entities from Progress Energy (PGN) for $1.2 billion cash, subject to adjustments. It says the deal will allow the company to have enough undrilled locations for its multiple year drilling program.

Motorola (MOT) sets an additional $4.5 billion stock buyback.

Citigroup upgraded Dell (DELL) to buy from hold.

Inco (N) expects its adjusted net earnings in the second half of 2006 to significantly exceed those in the first half, based on the company's belief that the nickel market will remain strong through the rest of the year.

BellSouth (BLS) posts 49 cents vs. 43 cents second quarter EPS from continuing operations on a 1.2% revenue rise.

Merck (MRK) posts 69 cents vs. 33 cents second quarter EPS on a 5.6% sales rise. It raises 2006 EPS guidance to $2.40-$2.48, excluding restructuring charges related to site closures and position; it also sees $2.10-$2.24 2006 reported EPS.

Schering-Plough (SGP) posts 16 cents second quarter EPS vs. 5 cents loss (GAAP) on an 11% revenue rise.

Bayer (BAY) and Onyx Pharmaceuticals receive marketing authorization from the European Commission for Nexavar tablets for the treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma. Bayer is to commercialize Nexavar in Europe.

Hasbro (HAS) posts 7 cents vs. 11 cents second quarter EPS (including stock-comp expense) on a 7.8% worldwide net revenue decline.

E.W. Scripps (SSP) posts 64 cents vs. 62 cents second quarter EPS on a 19% revenue rise. It sees 39 cents third quarter EPS from continuing operations.

UAL (UAUA) sees 93 cents second quarter EPS on $5.1 billion operating revenues. It cites continuing benefits of restructuring, strong revenue growth, and cost control efforts.

OM Group (OMG) expects second quarter EPS to be about $1.80 vs. the previous outlook of 99 cents to $1.09. It cites higher base metal prices, a lower tax rate, and higher sale volumes in its Specialties Group. It notes both outlooks include a 41 cents gain.

Polo Ralph Lauren (RL) raises its first quarter revenue growth estimate to the mid twenties percent vs. its earlier estimate of the high teens to the low twenties percent. It cites stronger worldwide demand for its products.

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