Shares of Novelis ( NVL) were among the NYSE's winners Friday, surging 23% after the aluminum products company confirmed it is in talks to be acquired. The company said it is currently in discussions with various parties that could lead to a potential sale, though it noted that there's no assurance that a deal will be reached. Shares were trading up $6.87 to $37, on more than 10 times their average daily volume. Shares of NBTY ( NTY) rose 8% after the maker of vitamins and nutritional supplements posted first-quarter results that blew past Wall Street's expectations. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company earned $50.9 million, or 73 cents a share, on revenue of $506.2 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 49 cents a share and revenue of $496.8 million. In the year-earlier period, NBTY earned $22.9 million, or 33 cents a share, on revenue of $455.3 million. Shares were trading up $3.75 to $50.49. Caterpillar ( CAT) climbed 2% after the maker of heavy construction equipment posted mixed fourth-quarter results but issued a bullish 2007 outlook. The company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $882 million, or $1.32 a share, on revenue of $11 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $1.34 a share on revenue of $10.5 billion. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $846 million, or $1.20 a share, on revenue of $9.66 billion. Looking ahead, Caterpillar forecast 2007 earnings of $5.20 to $5.70 a share, with revenue of $41.5 billion to $43.6 billion. Analysts project earnings of $5.54 a share and revenue of $41.06 billion. Shares were trading up $1.14 to $60.77.
Shares of Fortune Brands ( FO) slid 4% after the conglomerate posted solid fourth-quarter results but forecast an earnings drop for the current period. The company, whose products include Jim Beam bourbon and Moet faucets, earned $251.8 million, or $1.62 a share, in the fourth quarter. Excluding items, the company earned $1.39 a share, above analysts' forecast of $1.35 a share. Fortune Brands posted revenue of $2.28 billion, above Wall Street's estimate of $2.24 billion. During the year-earlier quarter, the company earned $175.9 million, or $1.17 a share, on revenue of $1.96 billion. For the first quarter, the company expects earnings to fall 20% from last year's $1.06 a share. Analysts project earnings of $1.07 a share. "We expect the first quarter will be the most challenging quarter of the year for our home products brands, especially as compared to last year's very strong first quarter when operating income before charges in home & hardware rose 19%," Fortune Brands said. The company also expects to be dogged by higher raw material costs. Shares were trading down $2.50 to $80.46. Shares of Cash America International ( CSH) slid 13% after the pawn shop operator reported lower-than-anticipated fourth-quarter earnings and gave a first-quarter guidance below expectations. The company's fourth-quarter profit rose to $21.7 million, or 71 cents a share, from $16.7 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier. The earnings per share missed analysts' forecast by 2 cents. Revenue rose to $215.4 million from $171 million, exceeding Wall Street's forecast of $192.7 million. For the first quarter, Cash America sees earnings of 60 cents to 64 cents a share. Analysts project earnings of 67 cents a share. For the full year, the company predicts a profit of $2.45 to $2.55 a share, in line with the $2.50 a share that analysts project. Shares were trading down $4.30 to $39.84.
Bebe Stores ( BEBE) fell 4% after the retailer's second-quarter results fell below Wall Street's expectations. The company earned $24.3 million, or 26 cents a share, on revenue of $196.8 million. Analysts expected earnings of 28 cents a share and revenue of $198.2 million. A year earlier, Bebe earned $25 million, or 27 cents a share, on revenue of $167.9 million. Bebe projects third-quarter earnings of 13 cents to 16 cents a share, with same-store sales growth that will be in the low-single-digit range. Analysts project earnings of 16 cents a share for the current quarter. Shares were trading down 83 cents to $17.91. NYSE volume leaders included Ford ( F), down 2 cents to $8.20; Pfizer ( PFE), down 19 cents to $26.17; Halliburton ( HAL), down 20 cents to $29.54; Nokia ( NOK), up 22 cents to $21.33; MEMC Electronics Materials ( WFR), up $6.18 to $49.80; Motorola ( MOT), down 34 cents to $18.25; Texas Instruments ( TXN), down 38 cents to $30.85; and EMC ( EMC), down 15 cents to $13.82. Nasdaq volume leaders included Microsoft ( MSFT), up 31 cents to $30.76; Conexant Systems ( CNXT), down 21 cents to $1.80; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), down 28 cents to $25.94; Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), down 4 cents to $6.30; Amgen ( AMGN), down $3.34 to $71.51; Intel ( INTC), up 13 cents to $20.73; and Apple ( AAPL), down 30 cents to $85.95.