Stocks to watch
Monday has no major earnings releases on the calendar.
On deck the rest of the week, though, are Micron Technology, /zigman2/quotes/205710729/composite MU +1.70% , Best Buy /zigman2/quotes/205918291/composite BBY +1.47% and some of the major investment banks including Goldman Sachs /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS -0.36% , Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers . FedEx /zigman2/quotes/203047719/composite FDX +0.22% , Nike /zigman2/quotes/203439053/composite NKE 0.00% and General Mills /zigman2/quotes/206659526/composite GIS +1.42% are also due to report.
Ace Cash Express said late Friday that it settled a dispute with North Carolina without any payment required. The state will drop a suit challenging Ace loan products and the check-cashing company will drop a suit challenging the Tarheel State's right to override federal financial regulations. Ace will stop making certain loans against paychecks while the state works on new payday legislation.
Admiralty Bancorp said late Friday that its shareholders approved a $26 per share purchase by Royal Bank of Canada /zigman2/quotes/206088494/composite RY -0.59% in a deal worth $150 million. Pending regulatory approval, the merger is expected to close in January.
AmerisourceBergen /zigman2/quotes/201066379/composite ABC -0.45% said after Friday's close that it will buy privately held US Bioservices for $160 million, which includes assumed debt. The pharmaceutical distributor said up to another $30 million in purchase payments are contingent on earnings targets of US Bioservices, which specializes in delivering complex therapies. AmerisourceBergen said it expects to add $120 million in revenue from the acquisition and also slightly boost its 2003 earnings per share.
Bank of Hawaii /zigman2/quotes/203515420/composite BOH +1.20% said late Friday that its board agreed to boost stock buybacks by $230 million, bringing the total approved for such acquisitions to $800 million. The bank said money for the purchases comes from divesting assets and that it so far has bought 19.9 million shares at an average price of $26.15, a total of $519 million.
Moody's late Friday said it was placing about $7 billion of Bristol-Myers Squibb /zigman2/quotes/202559280/composite BMY -0.74% debt under review for possible downgrade based on doubts that the company would restate earnings in time to avoid default under certain covenants. Bristol-Myers is restating its earnings for 2000 through 2002 and has delayed filing its third quarter 10-Q form to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The drug company has said it expects to finish its restatement by February.
DaimlerChrysler shares could come under pressure Monday after the head of DaimlerChrysler's U.S. operations is telling Reuters that he expects tough conditions in that market to continue into next year. Dieter Zetsche was quoted as saying he expects competition to stay "very tough also next year." Zestche cited high incentives from rivals General Motors /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM +4.03% and Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F +2.71% for the difficult selling environment, but added that he still believes that DaimlerChrysler will be able to grow U.S. market share next year from its current 13.2 percent, Reuters said.
ExxonMobil /zigman2/quotes/204455864/composite XOM -1.83% said late Friday that it will end its sponsorship of the PBS series "Masterpiece Theatre" after the 2004 season. Since it began backing the Sunday night broadcasts of British shows in 1971, the oil behemoth said its share of expenses has been more than $250 million.
With year-end changes expected in the S&P 500 Index, Barron's feature previewing the week ahead suggests five candidates to be added, based on the observations of Guzman & Co. President Leo Guzman. He thinks M&T Bank /zigman2/quotes/207957637/composite MTB -0.02% , Gilead Sciences /zigman2/quotes/210293917/composite GILD +0.13% , Symantec , IDEC Pharmaceuticals and Quest Diagnostics /zigman2/quotes/201001842/composite DGX -0.91% could join the marquee index. But rather than buy those on speculation of joining the 500, Guzman said he would merely suggest adding to already held positions.
HTE Inc. , which makes software and systems for managing government information, said it won a ruling in the federal court for the Middle District of Florida that denied voting rights on 5.6 million common shares held by Tyler Technologies /zigman2/quotes/208092302/composite TYL +2.05% -- about half the 11.5 million common shares outstanding. HTE said the court upheld that the shares were bought under conditions carrying no voting rights.
Steelmaker IPSCO late Friday updated its fourth-quarter outlook, saying that preparations for a potential strike took take away about 5 cents per share and costs from a settlement will cost about 5 cents a share annually, mostly for pension benefits. The company said its Q4 revenue will include about 9 cents a share from the sale of surplus land and that it expects to "approach" the Thomson First Call estimate of 16 cents per share EPS.
Labor Ready , which supplies temporary manual workers, raised its fourth-quarter outlook after Friday's close. Earnings per share are seen in a range of 5 to 7 cents, up from 4 to 7 cents projected earlier. Revenue forecasts remain at $216 million to $222 million.
Traders could be jockeying on MedImmune /zigman2/quotes/240553082/composite MEDI -0.18% and Corixa as the pharmaceutical companies prepare for Tuesday decisions by Food and Drug Administration advisory boards. MedImmune's FluMist, if approved, would be the first commercially available nasal-spray flu vaccine, allowing patients to avoid what can be painful annual shots. Corixa's Bexxar relies on cutting-edge antibody-based drug technology to deliver a payload of radiation directly to cancer cells. See full story.
Northwest Airlines said late Friday that it reached agreement with its pilots union to proceed with a code-sharing agreement with Delta Air Lines /zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite DAL -1.25% . A similar marketing agreement is also in place with Continental /zigman2/quotes/206226741/composite CAL +0.08% . The federal Transportation Department is reviewing the alliance, which would allow airlines to use the same flight numbers and pool their passengers.