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Stock Report Friday
07:20 ET Express Scripts could be poised for upside -- Barron's Online (ESRX) 62.82: Barron's Online highlights the pharmacy benefit manager ESRX in light of its shares dropping more than 27% earlier this year as margins shrank and rivals AdvancePCS and Caremark Rx announced a merger. However, the article notes Express Scripts remains the cheapest of the nation's four largest pharmacy benefit manager's. Because it doesn't favor any particular drug co's products in its formularies, Express Scripts can promote cheaper or generic drugs, which lower clients' drug costs and improve margins. At Thursday's closing price of 62.82, the co trades at 17.1x projected earnings per share over the next four quarters, which is well below the five-year historic median of 23.6x forward earnings, according to Thomson Financial/Baseline. In addition, the stock also changes hands at a 6% to 7% discount to the S&P 500 and the industry. AG Edwards analyst Andrew Speller says the shares should hit 79 over the next 12 months, based on a multiple of 20x estimated 2004 earnings.
07:19 ET Halliburton claimants vote to accept a reorganization plan (HAL) 24.69: Co says more than 97% of asbestos claimants voted to accept a reorganization plan, a step toward clearing the way for a bankruptcy filing for its engineering and construction unit. The co also said that more than 99% of silica claimants voted to accept the plan.
07:19 ET JP Morgan reits Overweight on semi equipment : JP Morgan believes that equipment stocks are again significantly oversold within an uptrend; firm says that seasonality is playing out, expects bookings for equipment to grow 15-20% sequentially through Q2, forecasts the YoY growth rate in semi revs to accelerate into next May or June, and expects chip and equipment lead times to stretch into Q2; firm also expects equipment stocks to rise in late Dec in anticipation of early stage buying, expects a solid earnings season, and thinks that equipment co's should start delivering positive EPS surprises with forward guidance above consensus. Top picks ASML, KLAC, LRCX, VSEA, BRKS, and CYMI.
07:15 ET In Early Research Calls, UBS downgrade should be of STZ, not STX :
07:15 ET Epicor Software makes bid for Scala (EPIC) 10.81: Co and Scala Business Solutions announce Epicor's friendly public offer to acquire all shares of Scala. The offer is made up of a cash price of US$1.8230 per Scala share plus 0.1795 shares of Epicor's common stock. The merger would create the largest independent midmarket provider of collaborative enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management applications based on Microsoft's .NET platform and Web services. The combined co would have $250 mln in sales
07:14 ET BRKS upgraded at Soundview 20.59: SoundView upgrades Brooks Automation to Outperform from Neutral and raises their target to $30 from $22; firm continues to receive improving data points for the industry and BRKS in particular, the OEM biz continues to be quite strong, factory hardware may finally be turning the corner, co continues to focus on operational improvements, and valuation is compelling.
07:12 ET Asbury Automotive confirms Y03 guidance (ABG) 17.00: Co see Y03 (Dec) EPS of apprx $1.55, in line w/ Reuters Research consensus of $1.55.
07:12 ET Nasdaq-100 adds eight new names to Index : Nasdaq announces that the following eight stocks will be added to the Nasdaq-100 Index: Marvell (MRVL), Garmin (GRMN), CareerEducation (CECO), Lam Research (LRCX), Level 3 Communications (LVLT), Intersil (ISIL), ATI Technologies (ATYT) and Research in Motion (RIMM)... Being removed from the Nasdaq-100 are ADCT, BRCD, CIEN, ERICY, HGSI, ICOS, MNST, RFMD... The changes will be effective with the market open on Monday, Dec 22.
"JJ Call me a 2'x4' again on the forum and your going to pay" Sportman.