WinnersWomen's apparel retailer AnnTaylor (ANN) was rising 7% to $45.15 after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to an overweight rating from an equal-weight stance. Church & Dwight (CHD - Get Report) was gaining ground for the second straight day on the heels of the company's quarterly report. The company posted first-quarter earnings of 36 cents a share, including a charge. Before the charge, the company earned 42 cents a share. Analysts were looking for a per-share profit of 32 cents. Church & Dwight, which makes household products under the Arm & Hammer brand, also raised its guidance for the year. Shares of Church & Dwight were lately up 9% to $34.57.
ESS Technology (ESST), a leading provider of semiconductors for digital video, home networking and other uses, was adding 11% to $14.47 after the company set plans to buy back stock and defended itself from a report questioning its accounting. The company's board has authorized the repurchase of up to 3 million common shares, including about 600,000 shares that remain available through a previous buyback plan. ESS also said a report from the Center for Financial Research & Analysis, which suggested the company is inflating its operating profits, is "absolutely false." Food distribution company Fleming (FLM) said its first-quarter earnings rose to $24.6 million, or 52 cents a share, from $15.5 million, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding its exposure to bankrupt retailer Kmart (KM), Fleming earned 57 cents a share, topping analysts' forecasts by 5 cents. The company also said it would incur a $25 million charge in the second quarter related to expected acquisitions. Shares of Fleming were climbing 13% to $25.35. Providian Financial (PVN), a credit card issuer, was rising 10% to $7.01 a day after the company reported first-quarter earnings of 3 cents a share, including a gain. Before items, the company earned 2 cents a share. In the same period a year ago, Providian earned 78 cents a share. The company, which has already terminated almost one-quarter of its workforce, also disclosed plans to eliminate 2,600 more jobs.