Updated from 11:46 a.m. Shares of American Italian Pasta ( PLB) were among the NYSE's winners Wednesday, rising 21.5% after the company posted first-quarter earnings and sales above expectations. The company earned $2.1 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $99.1 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 10 cents a share on sales of $92.6 million. A year ago the company earned $8.1 million, or 44 cents a share, on sales of $101.6 million. Retail sales during the quarter rose modestly, or by $711,000, while institutional sales tumbled by $3.2 million, or 12%. Looking ahead, the company reaffirmed its guidance for 2005, forecasting earnings of 80 cents to $1 a share on sales of $370 million to $400 million. Analysts are expecting earnings of 83 cents a share on sales of $381.9 million. Shares traded up $4.50 to $25.45. McCormick ( MKC) fell 6.1% after the spice maker posted fourth-quarter earnings and sales below expectations. The company earned $87.4 million, or 62 cents a share, on sales of $744.1 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 66 cents a share on sales of $750.8 million. A year ago McCormick earned $84.4 million, or 59 cents a share, on sales of $698.6 million. Looking ahead, the company expects 2005 earnings of $1.70 to $1.74 a share, which includes a 1-cent charge related to previously announced streamlining actions. Sales are expected to rise by 4% to 7%, which includes $46 million from an acquisition. That would imply sales of $2.63 billion to $2.71 billion. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.74 a share on sales of $2.7 billion. Shares traded down $2.35 to $36. Shares of Magnum Hunter ( MHR) rose 12.2% after the oil and gas exploration company agreed to be acquired by Cimarex Energy ( XEC) for about $1.5 billion in stock. Cimarex will also assume almost $650 million in debt, bringing the entire deal's worth to about $2.1 billion. The deal values each Magnum share at $16.67 a share, based on Tuesday's closing prices, which represents a premium of 26%. The combination will triple proved reserves, double production, and extend the life of their reserves. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter. Shares of Magnum traded up $1.61 to $14.85, while Cimarex traded down $4.12 to $36.06.
GlobalSantaFe ( GSF) rose slightly after the oil and gas driller posted fourth-quarter earnings that fell below expectations. The company, excluding items, earned $34.9 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $498.3 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 19 cents a share on sales of $484.9 million. A year ago the company earned $24.5 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $480.8 million. GlobalSantaFe said that income from continuing operations benefited from a 165% increase in contract drilling income that came in at $57 million on sales of $331.2 million. A year ago, contract-drilling earnings were $21.5 million and sales were $305.5 million. Shares traded up 21 cents to $35.25. Shares of Helmerich & Payne ( HP) rose 3.1% after the company posted first-quarter earnings ahead of expectations. Excluding items, the contract drilling company earned 35 cents a share on sales of $174.7 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 24 cents a share. A year ago the company earned 7 cents a share on sales of $134.3 million. "We are very encouraged by the improved profit recorded this quarter as tightening U.S. rig supply has translated into meaningful dayrate and margin increases. We believe these conditions in the U.S. will continue and that international rig activity will likely improve if crude oil and natural gas prices remain within recent price ranges," the company said. Shares traded up $1.07 to $35.66. NYSE volume leaders included Lucent ( LU), up 14 cents to $3.27; Corning ( GLW), down 56 cents to $10.95; Texas Instruments ( TXN), up $1.54 to $22.66; Pfizer ( PFE), unchanged at $24.59; and EMC ( EMC), up 30 cents to $12.78. Nasdaq volume leaders included Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), down 6 cents to $6.18; Oracle ( ORCL), up 3 cents to $13.62; Cisco ( CSCO), up 18 cents to $17.69; Intel ( INTC), up 16 cents to $22.42; Microsoft ( MSFT), down 1 cent to $26.01; and Applied Materials ( AMAT), up 47 cents to $16.12.