Edited by Anita Peltonen
The following research reports were issued recently by investment firms. Many may be obtained through Thomson Financial at www.thomson.com/financial or 800-638-8241. Some are available in the company research area of The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com, or through Factiva.com. Some of the reports' issuers have provided, or hope to provide, investment-banking or other services for the companies being analyzed.
Hold - Price 5.11 on August 7
by Cantor Fitzgerald
Maintaining Hold [but] lowering 12-month target from 6.50 to 6. AudioCodes reported 2Q07 revenues of $38.4 million and pro forma earnings per share of 3 cents. Revenue was above the $37.2 million consensus estimate...[and] pro forma EPS was ahead of consensus estimate of two cents. AudioCodes is a leading provider of [digital-signal-processing, or] DSP-based enabling technology platforms and systems to communications-equipment vendors.
Buy - Price 78.21 on August 2
by Lazard Capital Markets
[Itron designs and manufactures systems and fixed communication networks for automatic and electronic meter reading.] Raising our price target to 95 from 80...reflect[ing] a 25 times multiple on our 2008 operating EPS estimate of $3.80...in line with its peer group...We believe Itron should trade at a premium to peers given its leadership position and increasing visibility on movement of several large-scale projects.
Luminent Mortgage Capital - LUM-NYSE
Market Underperform - Price 4.38 on August 7
by JMP Securities
Given the sudden change in liquidity condition and future operating uncertainty at Luminent, we are suspending our earnings estimates and downgrading LUM from Market Outperform to Market Underperform with a $3 price target...represent[ing] just 30% of the company's reported book value of $10.05 per share at June 30. Luminent has total common equity of $435 million, about 10.8% of the combined total of its repurchase agreements, warehouse lines and commercial paper outstanding June 30...A favorable outcome at this point would be [the] addition of outside private investment to help meet temporary margin calls and avoid portfolio liquidation.
Neutral - Price 25.04 on August 7
by Baird Securities
Downgrading [from Outperform]. [Storage-unit firm] Mini reported 2Q07 EPS of 36 cents; its guidance range was 36-cent-to-38-cents...Guidance for full-year '07 was maintained at $1.53 to $1.58 per share, implying a more significant ramp in 4Q. EPS was below expectations due to higher sales, general and administrative and depreciation expenses associated with Royal Wolf acquisition. Higher selling expenses may be [due to] softer demand and more aggressive competition from Williams Scotsman and Mobile Storage Group.
Orthovita - VITA-NNM
Buy - Price 3.05 on August 7
by Think Equity
2Q07 shows that Orthovita is improving its foundation to better capitalize on projected second-half '08 launch of Cortoss [synthetic bone filler] into the vertebral-compression-fracture marketplace. We think the current cash balance should get the company to the launch, and that ongoing hires and growth in the base business will provide an excellent foundation. Reiterate Buy and 4.50 target.
Pepsi Bottling Group - PBG-NYSE
Buy - Price 33.93 on August 7
by Zacks Equity Research
Net revenue per case in U.S. has been strong, growing in mid-single digits...Europe...[shows] a 6% increase in latest quarter. Gross profit per case has been increasing as pricing gains have more than offset the negative effect of higher raw material prices. The board of directors raised the dividend by 38% in 2006 and again by 27% in 2007. An aggressive share-repurchase program is reducing shares outstanding by 4% year-over-year. Six-month target: 39.25
Buy - Price 100.40 on August 7
by Sterne Agee
After analyzing GlobalSantaFe merger terms, we have raised our ratings on both stocks from Hold to Buy. The 12-month target for RIG is 122 a share; for GSF, 81. The combined entity should earn in excess of $12 a share in '08. Given a high level of firm contract backlogs, confidence in this estimate should be higher than normal...Transocean is the dominant player in the deepwater offshore-drilling industry.
Long-Term Buy - Price 34.30 on August 7
by Hilliard Lyons
3Q results were slightly above our expectation...increas[ing] nearly 7% from year-ago level to $9 billion...Earnings per diluted share rose 13% to 58 cents, versus year-ago 51 cents...Reported figures exclude ABC Radio business, which was spun off...in June...A combination of near-term business momentum and long-term strategic planning appeal[s] to us. A strong balance sheet and focus on shareholder value add to our favorable view. Two-year target is 44.