Stocks to Watch: Material Sciences Climbs, IHOP Trips
The Day's WinnersVending machine food distributor and name brand food marketer International Multifoods (IMC) was climbing about 3% to $27.57 after the company said its earnings and sales were up for the quarter. The company earned $4.9 million, or 25 cents a share, on an operating basis, up from $2.1 million, or 11 cents a share, a year ago and ahead of the consensus estimate of 21 cents. Sales rose 17%, mainly on the strength of its recently acquired Pillsbury dessert business. Going forward, the company said it still expects to earn $1.90 to $2 a share for the year excluding charges, in line with the consensus forecast of $1.95. Shares of metal manufacturer Material Sciences (MSC) rose 5% to $13.35 in on news that its first-quarter profits more than doubled. The company earned $2.2 million, or 15 cents a share, from continuing operations in the quarter, up from $800,000, or 6 cents a share, a year ago. Sales were up 8.6%. Material said that, including its recent sale of its Pinole Point Steel division, it earned $5.85 million, or 40 cents a share, in the quarter, up from a year-ago loss of $1.65 million, or 12 cents a share.
The Day's LosersApogent Technologies (AOT) fell 7% to $21.65 after the company cautioned that its full-year results will be at the lower end of its previous guidance. The company expects to earn $1.30 a share, compared with previous guidance of $1.30 to $1.40 and below the consensus estimate of $1.33. Apogent also said revenue growth would be at the lower end of expectations. The company said its core business remained strong, but its other segments haven't fared so well. The company plans to review its business plan for the coming year. CheckFree (CKFR) was losing 12% to $17 after negative comments from Friedman Billings Ramsey on the company's new agreement with Wells Fargo (WFC). On Wednesday, CheckFree said it will no longer receive service fees from Wells Fargo, instead opting for a transaction-based fee model. Friedman Billings issued a morning note saying the the agreement could be another sign that pricing is under pressure at CheckFree. The brokerage firm nonetheless reiterated its attractive rating on CheckFree, calling the stock fairly valued. IHOP (IHP) dropped 5.4% to $30.63 after the company warned that its 2002 results would be lower than expected. The restaurant chain now sees earnings of $1.99 to $2.12 a share, down from its previous guidance of $2.10 to $2.22. IHOP said the reduction will be caused by additional expenses it will incur to develop and deploy a long-term growth strategy. The company has hired consulting firm Mars & Co. and plans new product and consumer research programs to evaluate its existing business strategy. Shares of Synaptics (SYNA) plunged 27% to $10.36 after Bear Stearns, one of the underwriters to the company's January initial public offering, downgraded the stock to neutral from attractive. The brokerage firm also reduced its 2003 and 2004 earnings estimates on Synaptics. Additionally, Bear cut its price target on the stock to $13 to $15 from $22.
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