Today's Winners and Losers: Timken

The maker of steel products posts lower-than-expected earnings amid higher costs.
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Shares of

Timken

(TKR) - Get Report

were among the

NYSE's

losers Wednesday, tumbling 15% after the steel products company posted fourth-quarter earnings that were below Wall Street's forecast.

The company earned $94.9 million, or $1.01 a share, on sales of $1.28 billion. Excluding items, the company earned $50.6 million, or 54 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 63 cents a share, before items, on sales of $1.28 billion.

"

Earnings were lower than anticipated due to higher manufacturing costs, a write-off of obsolete and slow-moving inventory and increased reserves for automotive industry credit exposure," the company said. During the year-earlier quarter, the company earned $64.4 million, or 71 cents a share, on sales of $1.19 billion. Excluding items, the company earned $39.9 million, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier.

Timken sees first-quarter earnings, excluding items, of 55 cents to 60 cents a share. For all of 2006, the company expects earnings of $2.65 to $2.80 a share. Analysts project full-year earnings of $2.86 a share. Shares were trading down $5.49 to $30.68.

Select Comfort

(SCSS)

jumped 19% after the mattress maker reported fourth-quarter earnings that were ahead of expectations. The company earned $15.8 million, or 42 cents a share, on sales of $187.9 million. Analysts expected earnings of 37 cents a share on sales of $185.1 million. A year earlier, the company earned $10.4 million, or 27 cents a share, on sales of $148.6 million.

Looking ahead, Select Comfort sees 2006 earnings of $1.30 to $1.37 a share, including stock-based compensation expenses of 10 cents to 11 cents a share. Analysts project earnings, including stock-based compensation expenses, of $1.30 a share. The company expects full-year sales growth that will be at the high end of its long-term growth range of 15% to 20%. Shares were trading up $5.36 to $32.96.

Shares of

Ralcorp Holdings

(RAH)

fell 8% after the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. The foodmaker earned $9.7 million, or 32 cents a share, down from $16.6 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose to $464 million from $440.1 million. Analysts expected earnings of 49 cents a share and sales of $463.9 million. The company said the earnings decline was caused by "increases in the costs of raw materials, freight and energy, slightly offset by earnings added by the recent acquisitions and the limited effect of pricing increases." Ralcorp shares were down $3.29 to $36.01.

Panera Bread

(PNRA)

rose 3% after the bakery operator posted solid January sales. The company reported a 10.2% jump in systemwide same-store sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 24, while posting a gain of 10.9% at company-owned stores. Franchised bakery stores, meanwhile, had a same-store sales increase of 9.9%. Shares were trading up $2.16 to $70.26.

Shares of

Huntsman

(HUN) - Get Report

rose another 8% after the chemical company confirmed that it has received an "indication of interest" regarding the acquisition of its company. "In response to this indication of interest, the board of directors engaged financial and legal advisors to assist it in evaluating a sale of the company and other alternatives to enhance shareholder value, including continuing to execute its business plan," the company said.

Huntsman shares jumped 11% Tuesday after

The Wall Street Journal

reported that the company is in "serious discussions" to be sold for more than $4.3 billion. Buyout firm Apollo Management is considered a leading candidate, the

Journal

said. Shares of Huntsman were recently up $1.78 to $23.40.

NYSE volume leaders included

Time Warner

(TWX)

, up 43 cents to $17.96;

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

, up 2 cents to $2.66;

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

, down 3 cents to $32.72;

Nortel Networks

(NT)

, up 7 cents to $3.07;

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

, down 27 cents to $28.96;

Tyco

(TYC)

, up 18 cents to $26.23; and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, down 14 cents to $46.44.

Nasdaq

volume leaders included

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

, up 14 cents to $4.64;

Symantec

(SYMC) - Get Report

, down $1.45 to $16.93;

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

, down 12 cents to $18.45;

Sirius Satellite Radio

(SIRI) - Get Report

, down 9 cents to $5.58;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, up $4.61 to $77.50;

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, up 3 cents to $21.28;

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

, down 18 cents to $27.97;

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

, down $38.78 to $393.88; and

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

, down 7 cents to $18.98.