Updated from 11:41 a.m. Shares of SunOpta ( STKL - Get Report) were among the Nasdaq's losers Wednesday, falling 12.4% even though the distributor of organic food products posted in-line fourth-quarter earnings and forecast better-than-expected 2005 sales. Excluding items, the company earned 6 cents a share on sales of $82.7 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 6 cents a share on sales of $80.9 million. A year ago the company earned $3.2 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $54.7 million. Looking ahead, SunOpta forecast 2005 sales of $385 million. Analysts had been expecting sales of $366.2 million. SunOpta said its 2005 results would be helped by internal growth of 15% to 17% and by acquisitions that occurred during 2004. Shares traded down 86 cents to $6.09. Fleetwood Enterprises ( FLE) rose 9.3% after the company announced the resignation of its CEO Edward Caudill. Elden Smith, who retired from the company in 1997, will replace Caudill. Smith previously served as senior vice president of Fleetwood's RV group. Caudill's departure comes less than a week after Fleetwood posted miserable third-quarter results and warned that it wouldn't be profitable during the fourth quarter. Shares traded up 83 cents to $9.74. Shares of Blockbuster ( BBI) rose 8.3% after the company posted fourth-quarter results that were better than expected. Excluding items, the company earned $12.3 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $1.72 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 4 cents a share on sales of $1.63 billion. A year ago the company earned $58 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $1.62 billion. Blockbuster said that it was particularly pleased with its online business, which has reached a base of more than 750,000 subscribers. Based on its initial success with the online business, it is stepping up its investment in Blockbuster Online, with hopes of achieving more than 2 million subscribers by the first quarter of 2006. Looking ahead, Blockbuster said that 2005 operating income would be flat with 2004 results and that sales would increase by a low-single-digit percentage. Analysts are expecting earnings of 48 cents a share on sales of $6.09 billion, or sales growth of about 1%. Shares traded up 72 cents to $9.44.
Great Lakes Chemical ( GLK) rose 23.6% after the company agreed to be acquired by Crompton ( CK) in a stock deal worth about $1.8 billion. Great Lakes shareholders will receive about 2.22 shares of Crompton stock for each share of Great Lakes they hold. The deal is valued at $29.92 a share based on Tuesday's closing prices, representing a premium of about 10%, and includes the assumption of about $250 million in debt. The combined company would have 2004 pro forma sales of more than $4.1 billion and a market capitalization of almost $3.2 billion. Finally, Crompton shareholders will own 51% of the new company while Great Lakes shareholders own the rest. Shares of Great Lakes traded up $6.42 to $31.61; Crompton traded up $1.85 to $15.31. Shares of Tempur-Pedic International ( TPX - Get Report) rose 1.7% after the mattress maker raised its 2005 earnings and sales outlook. The company now expects pro-forma earnings of $1.10 a share on sales of $880 million. Previously it expected earnings of $1 to $1.05 a share on sales of $830 million to $850 million. Analysts are expecting earnings of $1.04 a share on sales of $851.2 million. Tempur-Pedic chalked up the improved outlook to continued strength across its entire business, led by strong U.S. retail channel growth. The company is also experiencing continued growth abroad, it said. Shares traded up 34 cents to $19.85. NYSE volume leaders included Exxon Mobil ( XOM), down $2.31 to $60.79; Lucent ( LU), down 9 cents to $2.96; Elan ( ELN), up 75 cents to $7.88; Time Warner ( TWX), down 10 cents to $17.53; Pfizer ( PFE), down 2 cents to $26.74; and Texas Instruments ( TXN), up 30 cents to $26.64. Nasdaq volume leaders included Cisco ( CSCO), up 41 cents to $18.53; Intel ( INTC), up 4 cents to $24.84; Microsoft ( MSFT), down 9 cents to $25.31; Apple Computer ( AAPL), down $1.18 to $39.35; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), down 20 cents to $5.60; Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), down 1 cent to $4.36; and Applied Materials ( AMAT), down 16 cents to $16.66.