Shares of New Century Financial ( NEW) were among the NYSE's losers Friday, falling 9% after the real estate investment trust cut its 2005 earnings outlook. The company now expects earnings of $7.25 to $7.75 a share, down from previous guidance of $8.25 to $9 a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had been expecting earnings of $8.12 a share. New Century blamed its revised outlook on weakened operating margins, which were caused by a "significant deterioration in the secondary market for loans," it said. The company said that it would still generate earnings that would support its dividend of $6.50 a share in 2005 and its dividend of $7.30 a share in 2006. Finally, New Century said that its current guidance does not reflect the impact of weather-related losses in the Gulf Coast region. The losses, which can't be determined at this point, could possibly be significant, the company said. Shares were trading down $3.35 to $35.60. IPC Holdings ( IPCR) fell 7% after the insurance company said that Hurricane Katrina would significantly impact its third-quarter results. The company expects Katrina losses to impact its income by a range of $350 million to $600 million. The company's losses are based on industry insured loss estimates of $30 billion to $40 billion. Shares were trading down $2.29 to $30.32. Shares of Darden Restaurants ( DRI) rose 7% after the company posted first-quarter earnings that topped forecasts by a penny. The restaurant operator earned $85.5 million, or 53 cents a share, on sales of $1.41 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 52 cents a share on sales of $1.4 billion. A year ago the company earned $71 million, or 44 cents a share, on sales of $1.28 billion. The company also upped its semiannual dividend to 20 cents a share, up 400% from its previous dividend of 4 cents a share.
Looking ahead, Darden continues to expect fiscal 2006 earnings growth that will be in the low-double-digit range. Shares were trading up $2.04 to $31.11. Dynamic Materials ( BOOM) rose 9% after the metalworking company declared a 2-for-1 stock split. The split, which will increase the company's outstanding stock to about 11.7 million shares from almost 5.9 million shares, will be paid on Oct. 12 to shareholders of record on Oct. 5. "This stock split is designed to increase the size of our public float and make our shares more accessible to a broader base of prospective shareholders," the company said. Shares were trading up $3.02 to $38.42. Shares of Linens 'n Things ( LIN) fell 3% after the housewares retailer warned that third-quarter earnings would fall well short of Wall Street forecasts. The company expects break-even earnings on comparable same-store sales that are expected to fall by about 10%. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 29 cents a share. "While we expected our performance for this quarter to be difficult, we had not anticipated the significant declines in guest traffic that occurred," the company said in a statement. In addition to providing earnings guidance, the company said that it is exploring strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company. The company has hired Credit Suisse First Boston as its financial advisor. Shares were trading down 78 cents to $25.62. NYSE volume leaders included Pfizer ( PFE), down 16 cents to $25.09; Alcoa ( AA), down $1.70 to $24.20; Genworth Financial ( GNW), up 23 cents to $29.73; Delphi ( DPH), up 36 cents to $3.48; Wal-Mart ( WMT), up 23 cents to $43.42; Exxon Mobil ( XOM), down 82 cents to $64.16; Calpine ( CPN), down 12 cents to $2.54; Time Warner ( TWX), down 17 cents to $18.01; and Lucent Technologies ( LU), unchanged at $3.04. Nasdaq volume leaders included Oracle ( ORCL), down $1.12 to $12.40; Microsoft ( MSFT), down 1 cent to $25.33; Intel ( INTC), down 11 cents to $24.45; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), down 2 cents to $18.09; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), up 5 cents to $6.64; and Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), down 2 cents to $3.87.