Shares of Patterson-UTI ( PTEN) were among the Nasdaq's winners Thursday, rising 7% after the oil driller posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results and boosted its stock buyback plan. The company earned $134.2 million, or 77 cents a share, on revenue of $531.2 million. Results included a charge of 3 cents a share related to a previously announced embezzlement by the company's former chief financial officer. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 73 cents a share on revenue of $510.4 million. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $34.2 million, or 20 cents a share, on revenue of $288.3 million. Patterson-UTI also said it is now authorized to purchase up to $200 million in stock. "Our decision to increase the stock buyback program demonstrates continued confidence in the company's strong cash flow and our continuing commitment to deploy excess capital in a manner beneficial to shareholders," the company said. Shares were trading up $2.14 to $32.49. Lamson & Sessions ( LMS) jumped 11% after the maker of enclosures, fittings and conduits for the electrical and telecom markets raised its first-quarter projections. The company now sees earnings of $8.3 million to $8.8 million, or 53 cents to 56 cents a share. Previously, the company forecast earnings of 41 cents to 44 cents a share. Lamson & Sessions raised its sales forecast to a range of $132 million to $135 million from $123 million to $127 million. Two analysts have an average estimate for earnings of 43 cents a share, while one analyst projects sales of $124.6 million. Last year, the company reported first-quarter earnings of $2.2 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $98.8 million. Shares were up $2.65 to $27.35. Shares of Blyth ( BTH) fell 3% after the maker of home décor products posted weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter results and gave a fiscal 2007 forecast that missed expectations. For the quarter ended Jan. 31, Blyth reported a loss of $12.3 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $39.2 million, or 95 cents a share. Excluding various charges, Blyth would have earned 67 cents a share, below Wall Street's projection of 75 cents. Sales slipped to $480.6 million from $498.8 million. The company said results were hurt by reduced consumer discretionary spending, as well as higher commodity costs and freight surcharges.
For the coming year, Blyth forecast earnings of $1.65 to $1.70 a share, shy of analysts' target of $1.72. The company also said it has hired Bear Stearns to help evaluate strategic alternatives for its wholesale segment. Shares were down 68 cents to $20.68. Shares of MSC Industrial Direct ( MSM) rose 4% after the industrial supplies company posted better-than-expected second-quarter results. The company earned $33.3 million, or 49 cents a share, on revenue of $305.9 million. Results included a charge of a penny a share related to the departure of an executive and 2 cents a share related to stock-based compensation costs. Analysts expected earnings of 49 cents a share and revenue of $305 million. A year earlier, the company earned $27.4 million, or 39 cents a share, on revenue of $271.4 million. Looking ahead, MSC Industrial sees third-quarter earnings of 52 cents to 54 cents a share, including 2 cents a share in stock-based compensation costs. The company predicts revenue of $323 million to $327 million. Analysts project earnings of 53 cents a share and revenue of $323.7 million. Shares were trading up $1.96 to $55.07. Martin Marietta Materials ( MLM) shares rose 2% after the construction materials company boosted its first-quarter earnings outlook. The company now sees earnings of 52 cents to 58 cents a share, up from an earlier view of 30 cents to 45 cents a share. Analysts project earnings of 45 cents a share. During last year's first quarter, the company earned 15 cents a share. Martin Marietta attributed the higher forecast to better-than-expected weather, volume growth, strong pricing and cost management. Shares recently changed hands at $105.52, up $2.47. Shares of Hartmarx ( HMX) tumbled 13% after the apparel maker posted first-quarter results that missed Wall Street expectations. The company earned $2.6 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $144.2 million. Analysts expected earnings of 12 cents a share on sales of $146.1 million. During the year-earlier quarter, the company earned $4.2 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $143.8 million. For fiscal 2006, Hartmarx continues to expect earnings growth of 12% to 20% and sales growth in the low- to mid-single digits. Shares recently were down $1.31 to $8.57.
NYSE volume leaders included Lucent Technologies ( LU), up 5 cents to $3.09; Nokia ( NOK), up 99 cents to $21.21; Motorola ( MOT), up 47 cents to $23.24; Maytag ( MYG), down 30 cents to $21.51; General Electric ( GE), up 49 cents to $34.42; Nortel Networks ( NT), up 7 cents to $3; and Texas Instruments ( TXN), up $1.26. Nasdaq volume leaders included Level 3 Communications ( LVLT), down 9 cents to $5.51; Intel ( INTC), up 14 cents to $19.96; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), up 5 cents to $5.04; Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), down 1 cent to $5.24; Apple Computer ( AAPL), up 9 cents to $62.42; ATI Technologies ( ATYT), up $1.21 to $16.94; Oracle ( ORCL), up 1 cent to $13.73; JDSU ( JDSU), up 4 cents to $4.22; Microsoft ( MSFT), up 26 cents to $27.28; and Cisco ( CSCO), up 28 cents to $21.85.