The Day's Winners

Airborne Freight

(ABF)

was climbing 5% to $12.33 following an upgrade to buy from hold at Prudential. The brokerage firm said it sees improving fundamentals at Airborne. Prudential doesn't feel that the company's valuation and earnings estimates reflect the fundamental improvements, and the firm moved its price target to $15.

Liquid Audio

(LQID)

was up 4% to $2.50 after rejecting an acquisition offer from

Steel Partners

in favor of a revised reverse merger with

Alliance Entertainment

. Steel Partners offered $2.75 a share for the online music provider, but Liquid called the proposal inadequate. Instead, the company amended its deal with Alliance so that Liquid will buy 10 million of its own shares for $3 each in a cash tender offer, then issue 46.2 million new shares to privately held Alliance to complete the reverse merger. Alliance would end up with a 74% stake in the company.

New Century Financial

(NCEN)

moved up 3% to $27.90 after raising its second-quarter outlook on higher loan production volume. The specialty mortgage banking company said it will earn about $1.60 a share, ahead of Wall Street's consensus estimate of $1.46. New Century added that its loan production was about $3.2 billion in the quarter, a company record.

Rambus

(RMBS) - Get Report

tacked on 5% to $5.32 on news that it has licensed its RaSer serial link technology to

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

. The company, which makes chip-to-chip interface technology, said Intel will use RaSer in Ethernet network applications.

Shares of rent-to-own chain

Rent-A-Center

(RCII) - Get Report

were gaining 4% to $50.62 after the company boosted its second-quarter guidance. The company said its results should exceed its previous guidance of $1.10 by about 3 cents or 4 cents. Analysts expect $1.09 a share. For the full year, Rent-A-Center now expects to earn between $4.57 and $4.65 a share, ahead of analysts' estimates of $4.37.

The Day's Losers

Building equipment maker

Astec Industries

(ASTE) - Get Report

shed 12% to $13.95 after the company lowered its second-quarter earnings estimate. The company now expects to earn 12 cents a share on revenue of about $127 million, down from earlier guidance of 24 cents to 28 cents a share. Astec said it has seen delays in sales, as well as a high concentration of low-margin custom work in the quarter.

Trucking company

J.B. Hunt

(JBHT) - Get Report

dropped 17% to $23.20 on negative comments from Morgan Stanley. The firm questioned J.B. Hunt's accounting, saying it has identified several accounting issues such as the company's sale-leaseback structure and its restatement of its 1999 results, among others, that could potentially pressure the stock. Morgan Stanley added that it isn't attempting to suggest that the firm tried to mislead investors, but that the issues mentioned could hurt Hunt's valuation going forward.

Millennium Pharmaceuticals

(MLNM)

fell 4% to $9.44 on news that the company will abandon development of its oral asthma drug. The company said in a clinical trial, three patients on the drug experienced elevated liver enzymes. Millennium said the tests showed the drug, dubbed MLN977, to be clinically active, but safety concerns and limited commercial viability led to the decision to cancel further study.

Shares of

Veeco Instruments

(VECO) - Get Report

dipped 3% to $18.26 on two downgrades. Bear Stearns cut its rating on the stock to attractive from buy, saying the impending merger with

FEI

(FEIC)

calls into question the future value of some parts of the company, such as its process equipment and data storage. Bear Stearns also said it expects uncertainty in the short run, and cut its price target on Veeco to $30 from $60. Piper Jaffray also downgraded the stock to outperform from strong buy.