Updated from 11:24 a.m. ESTShares of Reebok International ( RBK) were among the NYSE's winners Thursday, rising 6.4% after the shoe company posted fourth-quarter earnings and sales above expectations and said 2005 earnings would come in ahead of forecasts. Excluding items, the company earned $35.7 million, or 59 cents a share, during the fourth quarter on sales of $975.1 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 52 cents a share on sales of $909.4 million. A year ago the company earned $28.1 million, or 44 cents a share, on sales of $843.6 million. Looking ahead, Reebok said it expects earnings to grow by 15% over its 2004 earnings of $2.98 a share. That would imply 2005 earnings of $3.43 a share. Sales are expected to grow by midsingle digits. Analysts are looking for earnings of $3.34 a share on sales of $4 billion, or sales growth of about 5%. Shares traded up $2.64 to $44.24. Ball ( BLL) rose 1.2% after the packaging maker posted fourth-quarter earnings and sales that beat expectations. The company earned $56.4 million, or 50 cents a share, on sales of $1.26 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 49 cents a share on sales of $1.22 billion. Looking ahead, the company cautioned that some customers engaged in pre-buying during the fourth quarter in advance of price increases slated to take place in 2005. As a result, "some of that will be at the expense of 2005," the company said. Still, "our long-term goal remains to increase earnings per diluted share by an average of 10% to 15% over time," it said. Shares traded up 52 cents to $42.33. Shares of Deluxe ( DLX) rose 7.6% after the check company's fourth-quarter results topped expectations. The company earned $46.8 million, or 92 cents a share, on sales of $476.9 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 90 cents a share on sales of $460 million. The quarter's results were helped by the company's New England Business Services acquisition and by a favorable tax rate that contributed 6 cents a share to the bottom line. A year ago it earned $39.4 million, or 77 cents a share, on sales of $300.5 million. Looking ahead, Deluxe expects first-quarter earnings of 75 cents to 79 cents a share, in line with expectations. Shares traded up $2.72 to $38.33.
The Pantry ( PTRY) rose modestly after the convenience-store operator posted first-quarter earnings and sales that easily beat expectations. The company earned $12.2 million, or 58 cents a share, on sales of $941.5 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 42 cents a share on sales of $896.6 million. A year ago Pantry posted earnings of $4.9 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $744.4 million. The most recent results were helped by accelerating growth in comparable merchandise sales and by a strong increase in the amount of gasoline sold. Looking ahead, Pantry now expects 2005 earnings of $1.95 to $2.05 a share, up from its previous guidance of $1.90 to $2 a share. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.98 a share. Shares traded up 4 cents to $28.80. Shares of Dow Jones ( DJ) fell 2.6% after the media company posted fourth-quarter earnings and sales that fell below analysts' forecasts and warned that first-quarter earnings would be below expectations as well. Excluding items, the company earned $35.6 million, or 43 cents a share, on sales of $437.2 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 45 cents a share on sales of $447.1 million. Looking ahead, Dow Jones expects first-quarter earnings to come in between 12 cents to 15 cents a share, which is below the 25 cents a share that analysts had been expecting. Lineage at the U.S. Wall Street Journal is expected to be down in the upper single-digit percentage range, compared with last year's first quarter, the company said. Shares traded down $1.03 to $39.19. NYSE volume leaders included Lucent ( LU), up 3 cents to $3.30; Nokia ( NOK), up 89 cents to $15.22; AT&T ( T), up $1.15 to $19.60; SBC Communications ( SBC), down 91 cents to $23.67; Pfizer ( PFE), up 9 cents to $24.68; and Gap ( GPS), up 58 cents to $21.84. Nasdaq volume leaders included JDS Uniphase ( JDSU), down 21 cents to $2.24; ; Intel ( INTC), down 11 cents to $22.31; Microsoft ( MSFT), up 10 cents to $26.11; Cisco ( CSCO), up 49 cents to $18.18; Oracle ( ORCL), up 35 cents to $13.97; and Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), up 18 cents to $6.36.