Women's apparel retailer AnnTaylor ( ANN) was rising 7% to $45.15 after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to an overweight rating from an equal-weight stance. Church & Dwight ( CHD) was gaining ground for the second straight day on the heels of the company's quarterly report. The company posted first-quarter earnings of 36 cents a share, including a charge. Before the charge, the company earned 42 cents a share. Analysts were looking for a per-share profit of 32 cents. Church & Dwight, which makes household products under the Arm & Hammer brand, also raised its guidance for the year. Shares of Church & Dwight were lately up 9% to $34.57. ESS Technology ( ESST), a leading provider of semiconductors for digital video, home networking and other uses, was adding 11% to $14.47 after the company set plans to buy back stock and defended itself from a report questioning its accounting. The company's board has authorized the repurchase of up to 3 million common shares, including about 600,000 shares that remain available through a previous buyback plan. ESS also said a report from the Center for Financial Research & Analysis, which suggested the company is inflating its operating profits, is "absolutely false." Food distribution company Fleming ( FLM) said its first-quarter earnings rose to $24.6 million, or 52 cents a share, from $15.5 million, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding its exposure to bankrupt retailer Kmart ( KM), Fleming earned 57 cents a share, topping analysts' forecasts by 5 cents. The company also said it would incur a $25 million charge in the second quarter related to expected acquisitions. Shares of Fleming were climbing 13% to $25.35. Providian Financial ( PVN), a credit card issuer, was rising 10% to $7.01 a day after the company reported first-quarter earnings of 3 cents a share, including a gain. Before items, the company earned 2 cents a share. In the same period a year ago, Providian earned 78 cents a share. The company, which has already terminated almost one-quarter of its workforce, also disclosed plans to eliminate 2,600 more jobs.
Exelixis ( EXEL) was diving 24% to $6.78 after the company reported a first-quarter loss of 31 cents a share, excluding items. On a GAAP basis, the company lost 33 cents a share. Revenue rose to $11.6 million from $7.7 million in the year-ago quarter. The company expects second-quarter revenue to decline 15% to 20%, largely because of the completion of a business arrangement with Pharmacia ( PHA). Exelixis is a genomics-based drug discovery company. Shares of Manugistics ( MANU), a business-to-business software maker, plunged 27% to $9.88 after executives said quarterly license revenue was running slightly behind their target, according to a Reuters report. Several analysts came out with cautious comments on Manugistics following a meeting with the company. Energy provider Mirant ( MIR) was losing 11% to $9.86 on word the company will sell its stake in Shandong International Power Development in China. Mirant will get $115 million in cash for selling its almost 10% stake in the company. United Defense ( UDI) was dropping 11% to $20.25 as worries built around the fate of the company's Crusader artillery system. The Pentagon recently told the Army that it plans to cancel the program in order to focus on more high-tech weapons, but reports indicate that Army officials have been trying to convince Congress to keep the Crusader.