business

Movers: RIM, Furniture Brands, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, ChoicePoint

Thursday's stocks in the news

Research In Motion (RIMM) expects net subscriber account additions for fourth quarter to be about 15%-20% higher than the 1.82 million net subscriber account additions forecasted by RIMM on Dec. 20, 2007. The total BlackBerry subscriber account base is expected to be approximately 14 million at the end of the quarter. It continues to expect fourth quarter revenue, EPS to be within ranges previously forecast in December. S&P raises target, estimate; keeps buy.

Furniture Brands International (FBN) rises on news that Sun Capital Securities has offered to acquire FBN "at a substantial premium" to its recent stock price of "$10.18."

Microsoft (MSFT) announces that it will ensure open connections to its high-volume products by publishing technical information about them on its Web site. Microsoft won't make software developers obtain a license or pay royalties or other fees.

Career Education (CECO) posts $0.34, vs. $0.39 a year ago, fourth quarter EPS from continuing operations on flat revenue, narrowed operating margin. It says Sallie Mae (SLM) has agreed to extend termination date of its discount loan program to Mar. 31, 2008, with increased discount rate for interim period from 25%-44%. In addition, says Sallie Mae has advised CECO that it intends to continue to provide loans through FFELP and private loan non-recourse programs to qualifying students. These lending changes are expected to have material financial impact on CECO.

HLTH Corp. (HLTH) and its 84% owned subsidiary, WebMD Health (WBMD), announce that HLTH will merge into WBMD. Terms: each HLTH share will be converted into 0.1979 WBMD shares, $6.89 in cash, subject to adjustment. HLTH posts $0.19 fourth quarter EPS from continuing operations.

J.C. Penney (JCP) posts better-than-expected $1.93, vs. $2.09 a year ago, fourth quarter EPS on 2.3% same-store sales drop, 4.1% total sales drop. It sees $0.75-$0.80 first quarter EPS, and $3.75-$4.00 for fiscal year 2009.

ChoicePoint (CPS) inks a deal to be acquired by Reed Elsevier, a publisher and information provider owned equally by Reed Elsevier PLC (RUK) and Reed Elsevier NV (ENL) for $4 billion. Terms: $50 cash per CPS share.

Analog Devices (ADI) posts better-than-expected $0.40, vs. $0.44 a year ago, first quarter EPS from continuing operations on 2.0% revenue decline. It sees second quarter revenue of $615-$640 million and EPS from continuing operations of $0.39-$0.42. It settles patent infringement lawsuits with Linear Technology; the companies won't be required to pay damages in connection with the settlement.

Citigroup reportedly upgrades Cisco Systems (CSCO) to buy from hold.

MBIA (MBI) spurned a plan put forward by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management LP to split up struggling insurers. MBIA said the plan is mainly designed to boost Ackman's negative bets against it and rival Ambac Financial (ABK).

Monarch Casino & Resort (MCRI) posts $0.21, vs. $0.27 a year ago, fourth quarter EPS on flat revenue. It cites higher marketing and promotional expenses, increased legal fees, higher bad debt expense and higher payroll and benefits costs.

Novatel Wireless (NVTL) posts $0.40, vs. $0.

14 a year ago, fourth quarter non-GAAP EPS (excluding stock-based compensation charges) on 53% higher revenue. However, sees $0.27 first quarter non-GAAP EPS on $110 million revenue, which is reportedly below analysts' expectations for the period.

Itron (ITRI) posts $0.81, vs. $0.48 a year ago, fourth quarter non-GAAP EPS on sharp revenue rise. It sees 2008 revenue of $1.87-$1.91 billion and non-GAAP EPS of $3.20-$3.45. Sees first quarter revenue of $450-$465 million. S&P raises estimate; keeps hold.

Blue Coat Systems (BCSI) posts $0.38, vs. $0.30 a year ago, third quarter non-GAAP EPS on 73% revenue rise. Sees $0.37-$0.41 fourth quarter non-GAAP EPS on $88-$91 million revenue.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND) posts $0.06 fourth quarter loss from continuing operations, vs. $0.04 loss per share a year ago, on revenue of $5.8 million (vs. no revenue on similar basis in fourth quarter 2006). In 2008, it expects to receive about $20 million in royalty revenue from King Pharmaceuticals for sales of Avinza and potential milestone payments from existing corporate partners. Sees total operating expenses of $36-$39 million, and expects to incur a $4.1 million non-cash charge in the first quarter.

Vasco Data Security International (VDSI) posts $0.09, vs. $0.13 a year ago, fourth quarter EPS despite 24% revenue rise. Notes three relatively large transactions were moved from fourth quarter 2007 into 2008. It sees 2008 revenue growth of 25%-35%.

Icos Vision Systems (IVISF) and KLA-Tencor (KLAC) jointly announce deal under which KLAC will make a friendly tender offer to acquire IVISF in a $465.8 million deal. Terms: €36.50 cash per IVISF share. Separately, IVISF posts €2.6 million, vs. €1.7 million income fourth quarter from operations on 4.6% revenue rise.

Zale (ZLC) posts $1.16, vs. $1.57 a year ago, second quarter EPS from continuing operations on 7.3% lower same-store sales, 7.2% lower total sales.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE