Stocks to Watch: Alcatel Cuts More Jobs, Martha Stewart Tops Views

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The board of

Qwest Communications

(Q)

extended the employment contract of Chairman and CEO Joseph P. Nacchio through 2005 and granted him 7.25 million additional stock options. Qwest also established a voluntary stock option exchange offer for about 24,000 employees, allowing them to trade in stock with exercise prices of $35 or more for the same number of replacement options.

Earnings Reports & Warnings

Alcatel

(ALA)

, the French telecom equipment company, reported a third-quarter loss of $506 million, or 49 cents a share. Analysts expected a loss of 13 cents. Sales for the quarter fell 18% from a year ago. The company also plans to cut another 10,000 jobs.

AutoZone

(AZO) - Get Report

is "very comfortable" that it will exceed the First Call consensus estimates of 57 cents a share for the current quarter. The company also said quarter-to-date sales growth was in the 7% to 8% range.

Comcast

(CMCSK)

said third-quarter operating cash flow rose to $705.8 million from $605.7 million a year earlier, while revenue increased 20% to $2.36 billion from $1.96 billion. The company reported a loss of $106.8 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a year-ago profit of $1.25 billion, or $1.29 a share. Figures for both periods include items.

Jones Apparel

(JNY)

posted third-quarter earnings of $117 million, or 85 cents a share, before charges. The company earned $213 million, or 94 cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Analysts expected income of 81 cents.

Martha Stewart

(MSO)

reported third-quarter earnings of 10 cents a share, topping First Call estimates by a penny. Revenue rose 13% to $69.6 million. For the full year, the company remains comfortable with earnings of around 45 cents a share.

Mergers, Acquisitions & Joint Ventures

NextCard

(NXCD)

, an online credit card issuer, hired Goldman Sachs to pursue the sale of the company. The company plans to reclassify certain credit losses after discussions with regulators. NextCard is now considered "significantly undercapitalized" under federal banking regulations because its risk-based capital ratio has dropped below 6%. The company also withdrew its guidance for the fourth quarter, 2002 and 2003.

Tellabs

(TLAB)

said

Sprint

(FON)

will use its equipment to help expand the long-distance carrier's international network into Europe and Asia.

Analyst Actions

CIBC World Markets upgraded

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

to buy from hold, saying field checks and sales checks indicate that the long-term value of the database franchise is underestimated.

Merrill Lynch raised its estimates for 2001 and 2002 on

PacifiCare Health

(PHSY)

. After the close Tuesday, the company reported third-quarter earnings of 52 cents a share, easily beating estimates. The firm maintained a neutral rating on the stock.

Miscellaneous News

British Telecom

(BTY)

said CEO Peter Bonfield will leave post at the end of January, a year earlier than expected. The company has started searching for a successor.