Updated from 3:50 p.m. EDT Motorola ( MOT) was the Big Board's biggest percentage gainer and volume mover Wednesday, with its stock closing up $3.08, or 19%, to $19.30. More than 81 million shares traded hands vs. its 30-day average daily volume of just over 14 million. The company reported Tuesday
that its quarterly profit had tripled. Motorola reported first-quarter earnings of $609 million, or 25 cents a share, vs. $169 million, or 7 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Alcon ( ACL), the world's largest eye-care maker, enjoyed healthy gains on Wednesday as well, as the company announced strong quarterly results that beat analysts' expectations. Alcon said its first-quarter profit rose 47%, as revenue climbed 19%. The company earned 61 cents a share vs. 42 cents a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for the company to earn just 49 cents per share. As a result of the stronger-than-expected earnings, the company's stock closed up $5.96, or 8.8%, to $73.54. Shoemaker Wolverine World Wide ( WWW) moved higher on Wednesday after the company posted strong earnings and revenue for its first quarter. The company's shares closed up $1.87, or 7.7%, to $26.30. Other most active names on the Big Board included Lucent ( LU), Ford ( F) and Cisco ( CSCO). Ford reported surprising first-quarter earnings, saying its net earnings more than doubled to $1.95 billion, or 94 cents a share, compared with $896 million, or 45 cents a share, a year earlier. Ford also said that it was raising its earnings forecast for the year from $1.20 to $1.30 a share to $1.50 to $1.60 a share. Ford shares closed up $1.38, or 10.2%, to $14.94. Sirius Satellite ( SIRI) was the most actively traded stock in over-the-counter action, with over 138 million shares changing hands after the satellite-radio operator posted a first-quarter loss on Wednesday morning.
Sirius, one of the largest operators of satellite-radio networks, posted a net loss of $142 million, or 12 cents a share, slightly above analysts' expectations. Sirius shares ended the day down 30 cents, or 7.9%, to $3.47. Ivanhoe Energy ( IVAN) was a big gainer and one of the Nasdaq's most actively traded names as well. Wednesday morning, the exploration and production company announced expectations for a significant increase in production this year; its shares closed up 62 cents, or 26.7%, to $2.94 with over 35 million shares traded vs. its daily average of just 3 million. Kent Financial ( KENT), which operates a broker-dealer, was flying high Wednesday afternoon, after the micro-cap company declared a 2-for-1 stock split on Tuesday. The stock, which usually trades by appointment, closed up $2.55, or 36.6% higher, to $9.51 on Wednesday. Almost 500,000 shares traded hands vs. normal daily volume of just 1,227 shares. Forward Industries ( FORD) was a big winner on Wednesday after the company announced second-quarter earnings. The company, which designs, markets, and distributes mundane items such as bags, clips and other accessories for the handheld consumer electronics industry, earned 8 cents vs. 3 cents a year ago. Sales, meanwhile, rose 28% year over year. The company, which sports a tiny market cap, isn't followed by Wall Street analysts; its shares closed up 91 cents, or 42.9%, to $3.03. Among new issues, Gander Mountain ( GMTN) soared as investors gobbled up the outdoor equipment retailer's stock on its first day of trading. Its shares traded up $6.02, or 37.6%, to $22.02; the company priced 5 million shares at $16 late Tuesday night. The stock's underwriters included Banc of America Securities and William Blair & Co. Of course, there were plenty of losers Wednesday as well. In Nasdaq trading, three big losers stood out: Abatix ( ABIX), Sento ( SNTO), and Ultratech ( UTEK).
Abatix, a supplier to the construction tool, industrial safety and homeland securities industries, got rocked after the company issued a press release that attempted to clarify a press release the company issued on April 14. In its latest press release, the company said: "Following the issuance of the April 14, 2004, press release there was a significant increase in the price and volume of shares traded of Abatix stock which Abatix believes was not warranted by company developments." That's all investors needed to hear. The stock, which had been halted since last Friday, opened down on huge volume. Abatix ended the day trading down $6.93, or 41.5%, to $9.77. Sento, a provider of outsourced customer care and sales support, traded significantly lower on Wednesday after the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of 12 cents a share vs. net income of 3 cents a share a year ago. For the year, the company reported a loss of 63 cents a share vs. a loss of $1.01 a year ago. Shares closed down $3.22, or 24%, to $10.17. Finally, Ultratech, a supplier of equipment used to manufacture semiconductors and nanotechnology devices, limped to the finish on Wednesday, as investors punished the stock after the company announced first-quarter earnings that missed analysts' expectations. The company earned 2 cents a share during the first quarter, vs. expectations of 6 cents. The company also came up short on the top line as well. Revenue of $26.6 million was shy of the $28.4 million analysts were looking for. Shares of Ultratech ended the day down $4.05, or 20.1%, to $16.05.
Not to be outdone, the Big Board saw its fair share of losers too. The biggest percentage loser was Silicon Graphics ( SGI), which reported third-quarter earnings late Tuesday. The company announced a loss of 2 cents a share, which was a marked improvement vs. a year ago. Unfortunately, though, analysts were looking for the company to break even. Adding insult to injury, the company also said that it doesn't expect to earn a profit during the fourth quarter, either. Analysts had expected the company to earn a penny. As a result, shares of SGI closed down 56 cents, or 19.7%, to $2.28. Shares of Devry ( DV), the private education company, were hammered on Wednesday after the company announced third-quarter earnings that fell well short of Wall Street expectations. The company posted earnings of 23 cents a share vs. estimates of 25 cents a share. Shares of Devry ended the day down $4.56, or 14.2%, to $27.54. Finally, Alliance Gaming ( AGI) shares lost ground Wednesday after the company announced third-quarter earnings that missed the mark. The company earned 24 cents a share in the third quarter, but that was short of the 27 cents analysts were expecting. Shares of Alliance Gaming traded down $3.38, or 11%, to $27.47.