Stocks to Watch: Wal-Mart Sees Strong January Sales

Also, PanCanadian agrees to acquire Alberta Energy.
Author:
Publish date:

PanCanadian Energy

(PCX)

agreed to acquire

Alberta Energy

(AOG)

for about $6.6 billion. The companies said the deal will create one of North America's biggest independent energy producers.

Earnings Reports & Outlooks

DST Systems

(DST)

said its fourth-quarter earnings, excluding a $1.5 million net gain, rose 4% to $49.8 million, or 41 cents a share. In the year-ago period, the company earned $47.9 million, or 37 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter was $416.6 million, up from $349.2 million in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had been predicting earnings of 40 cents a share.

State Auto Financial

(STFC) - Get Report

will raise its fourth-quarter loss reserves by $30 million to $33 million. The adjustments, coming on claims of the former Meridian Insurance Co., are expected to reduce fourth-quarter and year-end earnings by 50 cents to 55 cents a share. The insurance holding company said it became aware that the magnitude of the case deficiency of case reserve adjustments was greater than it first appeared and the company has accelerated its efforts to fix that deficiency.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

said same-store sales were ahead of expectations for the third week of January. The company originally projected that January comparable sales would increase 4% to 6%. So far, sales are at the upper end of that range.

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

said it earned 15 cents a share in the fourth quarter before restructuring charges and currency adjustments, beating analysts' consensus estimate on the strength of a massive cost-cutting campaign. On the bottom line, the copier maker had a loss of $4 million, or a penny a share. Revenue in the quarter was $4.26 billion, down 13% from a year ago but slightly higher than analysts had forecast. The company's cash position rose to $4.5 billion at the end of the year and net debt fell $4.1 billion from a year ago. The company said revenue would probably decline further in the first quarter but predicted it would still meet analysts' earnings expectations through cost cutting.

Miscellaneous News

Palm

(PALM)

unveiled a new i705, a pocket computer organizer that can email and communicate without wires, as well as surf the Web. The device is actually being launched several months after the company's original target date. The device marks a strategic switch in which Palm will target the corporate market.

Toys R Us

(TOY)

will close 64 stores and cut about 1,900 positions to reduce costs. The company will shut 37 Kids R Us stores and 27 Toys R Us stores, recording a $126 million after-tax charge in the fourth quarter. The retailer expects the actions to boost pretax earnings by $25 million in 2002 and $45 million annually starting next year. The company also disclosed plans to streamline corporate administration and financial functions, including the consolidation of five separate support locations in New Jersey.

Tyco

(TYC)

is holding talks with companies interested in acquiring parts of the conglomerate, according to a report in

The Wall Street Journal

. The company said last week that it plans to split into four companies.