Shares of Sears Holdings ( SHLD) were among the Nasdaq's winners Wednesday, climbing 11% after the retailer posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results. The company earned $648 million, or $4.03 a share, on revenue of $16.1 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of $3.62 a share on revenue of $16 billion. During the year-earlier period, when Sears' results were not included with Kmart's, the company earned $309 million, or $3.09 a share, on revenue of $6 billion. On a pro forma basis, which assumes that Kmart and Sears had merged at the beginning of fiscal 2004, Sears Holdings would have earned $589 million, or $3.62 a share, on revenue of $16.8 billion during the year-earlier period. During the most recent period, Kmart posted a comparable-store sales gain of 0.9%, the chain's first increase since the second quarter of 2001. Sears, meanwhile, posted a domestic comparable-store sales decline of 12.2%. The company's shares were trading up $12.57 to $129.84. Evergreen Solar ( ESLR) rose 4% after the maker of solar products received a multi-year supply contract from Germany's Donauer Solartechnik. The deal calls for Evergreen Solar to ship about $125 million worth of photovoltaic modules to Donauer over the next four years. Evergreen said the distribution agreement is the largest in the company's history and its fourth major contract in the past four months. "Donauer has been an outstanding distribution partner for Evergreen Solar for several years, and we look forward to our expanded relationship," Evergreen said in a statement. Shares were up 67 cents to $17.26. Shares of Magna Entertainment ( MECA) fell 9% after the operator of horse racetracks said its chief executive is stepping down. Tom Hodgson, who joined Magna in early 2005, will be replaced on an interim basis by Chairman Frank Stronach. The company said Hodgson was originally hired to develop and implement the company's recapitalization plan, which was announced in July 2005.
"Tom Hodgson has more than achieved our recapitalization plan goals, and we are grateful for his contributions to the company," Magna said. However, the company said it needs a CEO with more in-depth knowledge of the horseracing and gaming industry. Hodgson will officially step down from the CEO position at the end of March. The company, meanwhile, has hired an executive search firm to find a full-time replacement for Hodgson. Magna shares were trading down 60 cents to $6.40. American Commercial Lines ( ACLI) jumped 10% after the marine transportation and service company increased its 2006 earnings guidance. The company now sees earnings of $1.70 to $1.90 a share, up from an earlier view of $1.31 to $1.51 a share. For the first quarter, the company predicts earnings of 25 cents to 30 cents a share. Analysts project break-even earnings during the first quarter and earnings of $1.45 a share for the full year. "Industry fundamentals continue to strengthen in both of our business segments, barge transportation and barge manufacturing," the company said. American Commercial Lines said that first-quarter results are being helped by stronger-than-expected freight demand and accelerating productivity gains in its manufacturing business. Shares were trading up $3.92 to $42.52. Shares of DuPont ( DD) rose 3% after the chemicals company lifted its first-quarter earnings guidance. The company now sees earnings of about 80 cents a share, up from an earlier view of 70 cents a share. For the full year, the company raised its earnings projection to $2.70 a share from its earlier view of $2.60 a share. Analysts project first-quarter earnings of 71 cents a share and full-year earnings of $2.64 a share. "The increased outlook for earnings in the first quarter reflects improved operating performance by many DuPont businesses, partly offset by weaker market conditions in Europe and unfavorable currency trends," the company said.
Separately, DuPont said that it plans to cut about 1,500 jobs, most of them in Europe, through the closure and consolidation of laboratory and manufacturing sites. The restructuring activities will result in annual savings of $165 million. "This transformation plan is designed not only to improve the short-term health of these businesses, but also to ensure a future of sustainable, profitable growth," DuPont said. Shares recently had gained $1.10 to $43.02. NYSE volume leaders included Lucent Technologies ( LU), up 5 cents to $2.93; General Electric ( GE), up 16 cents to $33.94; Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD), up 1 cent to $35; Motorola ( MOT), up 37 cents to $21.69; Pfizer ( PFE), down 3 cents to $25.94; Time Warner ( TWX), down 4 cents to $17.23; and Qwest ( Q), up 13 cents to $6.88. Nasdaq volume leaders included Oracle ( ORCL), up 21 cents to $13.17; Avanex ( AVNX), up 26 cents to $2.95; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), up 8 cents to $4.53; Intel ( INTC), up 3 cents to $19.79; JDSU ( JDSU), up 4 cents to $3.76; Microsoft ( MSFT), down 13 cents to $27.10; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), down 3 cents to $21.22; Ciena ( CIEN), up 19 cents to $5.07; and Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), up 8 cents to $4.75.