Stocks in Motion: Fred's

The general merchandise retailer's earnings top Wall Street's projection.
Author:
Publish date:

Shares of

Fred's

(FRED)

were among

Nasdaq's

best-performing stocks Tuesday, rising 9% after the general merchandise retailer posted third-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street's expectation.

For the quarter ended Oct. 29, Fred's earned $6.3 million, or 16 cents a share, down from $7.4 million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding an accounting adjustment in the most recent period, Fred's earned $7.7 million, or 19 cents a share. On this basis, earnings beat Thomson First Call's mean analyst estimate of 18 cents, and were in line with Fred's guidance of 19 cents to 22 cents. The company's sales grew to $376.8 million from $349.1 million a year earlier, while same-store sales declined 1%. Looking ahead, Fred's said it expects market and competitive conditions will continue to be "aggressive," but it anticipates meeting its plan for the fourth quarter and 2006. Fred's shares recently were up $1.35 to $16.43.

Sizeler Property

(SIZ) - Get Report

rose nearly 7% after the real estate investment trust announced the resignation of its chief executive and said it is exploring strategic options for its business. The company said Sidney Lassen has retired as chairman and chief executive to pursue personal interests, but will remain a member of Sizeler's board. The company named Mark Tanz nonexecutive chairman.

Sizeler said its strategic alternatives could include a possible merger, sale or liquidation. The company will continue in its plans to sell its regional malls while the process occurs.

First Union Real Estate

(FUR)

, which owns 8.3% of Sizeler's shares, released a statement saying it "strongly supports" the company's moves. First Union's CEO sits on Sizeler's board. Sizeler shares traded up 77 cents to $12.40.

MTS Systems

(MTSC) - Get Report

tumbled 19% after the company's earnings and guidance failed to impress investors. The supplier of test systems and industrial position sensors said its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose to $10.5 million, or 51 cents a share, from $8.2 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier. The results included numerous one-time items that totaled into a gain of 13 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings, before items, of 41 cents a share. MTS reported revenue of $90.5 million, down from $96 million a year earlier. The company said the revenue was lower than expected, reflecting reduced revenue in its test segment.

MTS sees fiscal 2006 earnings of $1.66 to $1.76 a share, including 14 cents in stock options expenses. Analysts predict earnings of $1.83 a share. The company projects revenue of $395 million to $405 million, compared with $374.4 million for fiscal 2005. MTS shares were down $7.42 to $31.80.

Shares of

Brown Shoe

(BWS)

gained 8% after the footwear company posted better-than-anticipated third-quarter earnings and lifted its full-year forecast. The company earned $19.8 million, or $1.04 a share, for the quarter ended Oct. 29, including $3.2 million in charges related to store closings and consolidations. Excluding charges, Brown Shoe earned $1.21 a share, handily beating analysts' projection of $1.03. The company's sales rose to $617.7 million from $514.8 million a year earlier, slightly shy of Wall Street's target of $620 million. "Earnings exceeded projections, as our Famous Footwear division had a record quarter for sales and earnings supported by solid margins," said Brown Shoe Chairman and CEO Ron Fromm in a statement.

Brown Shoe raised its full-year net earnings projection to $1.92 to $2.07 a share from its prior estimate of $1.75 to $2. Adjusted earnings, which exclude charges, are expected to be $3 to $3.10. The company sees sales, meanwhile, of $2.3 billion. Analysts, on average, see fiscal year adjusted earnings of $2.88 a share and sales of $2.23 billion. For the fourth quarter, Brown Shoe predicts adjusted earnings of 74 cents to 84 cents a share, better than Wall Street's projection of 69 cents. The company's shares recently changed hands at $39.28, up $2.78.

Affirmative Insurance

(AFFM)

shares fell 7% after the company's chief financial officer resigned -- the second top executive to leave in the past two weeks. Affirmative named former director Mark Pape financial chief to replace Timothy Bienek, who left after two years on the job. The move comes just eight days after Affirmative announced the resignation of Chairman, CEO and President Thomas Mangold. Kevin Callahan has been serving as interim chairman and CEO. Affirmative's shares were trading at $13.37, down 98 cents.

NYSE

volume leaders Tuesday included

Lucent

(LU)

, down 5 cents to $2.86;

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

, up 44 cents to $14.64;

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, down 28 cents to $21.46;

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

, down 23 cents to $35.97;

Abbott Labs

(ABT) - Get Report

, down $1.10 to $39.27;

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

, up 42 cents to $50.04;

Nortel Networks

(NT)

, down 1 cent to $3.09; and

Qwest Communications

(Q)

, up 2 cents to $5.07.

Nasdaq shares trading actively included Intel, up 83 cents to $26.08;

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

, down 15 cents to $28.01;

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

, up 28 cents to $17.35;

SanDisk

(SNDK)

, up $2.34 to $49.18;

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

, down 7 cents to $12.37;

Alamosa Holdings

(APCS)

, up 4 cents to $18.39;

Sirius Satellite Radio

(SIRI) - Get Report

, down 4 cents to $7.09; and

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

, up 3 cents to $30.07.