Homebuilders were in focus again Friday, this time after Wachovia lowered its earnings estimates for this year and next on names across the sector. Citing higher cancellations and trouble getting promotions to lure in new buyers, the firm reduced its estimates for 13 builders, including Beazer Homes ( BZH), Lennar ( LEN), Toll Brothers ( TOL), Hovnanian ( HOV) and D.R. Horton ( DHI). Beazer was one of the worst decliners, falling nearly 6%. Most others in the group were down 2% to 3%. McDonald's ( MCD) was one of the session's winners after saying its third-quarter earnings would probably beat analysts' estimates. Profits for the quarter should be 89 cents a share, including 83 cents from continuing operations and a gain of 6 cents from the sale of Boston Market. Analysts were looking for earnings of 77 cents before the gain. Shares of McDonald's were up 0.7% at $56.64. GE ( GE) matched Wall Street's earnings estimates for the latest quarter and reaffirmed its full-year guidance, but its shares were down 2.2% at $40.69. The company earned $5.09 billion, or 50 cents a share, from continuing operations for the third quarter, and revenue climbed 12% from a year ago to $42.5 billion. Analysts were calling for a 50-cent profit on revenue of $42.4 billion. Women's apparel retailer Coldwater Creek ( CWTR) was one of the biggest losers, plunging 25.5% to $8.10 a day after it cut its forecast for the second half of the fiscal year.
For the third quarter, the company now expects sales of $260 million to $265 million and a loss of 11 cents to 13 cents a share. Sales for the fourth quarter should be $360 million to $365 million, and Coldwater expects to break even on the bottom line. Analysts were estimating profits of 14 cents in the third quarter and 20 cents in the fourth quarter. "We are clearly disappointed in the current business trends, including continued lower customer traffic and a highly promotional environment, the combination of which is likely to result in negative net income and earnings per share performance in the third quarter," said Dan Griesemer, chief executive-elect for Coldwater. The company tried to take some of the sting out of the warning by announcing a $75 million stock buyback. Uranium Resources ( URRE), a company that explores for, develops and mines uranium, advanced on word it will buy from BHP Billiton ( BHP) complete ownership of Rio Algom Mining LLC. Uranium Resources will pay BHP $110 million in cash and assume certain retirement benefits and reclamation liabilities of which up to $35 million will be prefunded at closing. Uranium Resources will also pay $16.5 million contingent on the receipt of a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct and operate a conventional uranium mill. "The purchase of Rio Algom provides one of the key assets we need to achieve our strategic goal to produce 10 million pounds of U3O8 per year by 2014," said Dave Clark, Uranium Resources' president and CEO. Shares of Uranium Resources were up 10.6% at $9.99.
W-H Energy Services ( WHQ) slumped after saying its third-quarter earnings would be in the range of $1.06 to $1.10 a share, lower than the company's previous target of $1.23 to $1.28. Shares were losing 16.3% to $60.33. Children's Place ( PLCE) climbed nearly 7% to $24.27 after Fortune reported that the retailer is looking for a buyer. The report, citing two people who have knowledge of the plan, said Children's Place has hired investment bank Peter J. Solomon to advise it on a possible sale. General Motors ( GM) said its Latin America, Africa and Middle East region set an all-time sales record in the third quarter, selling more than 329,000 vehicles, up 59,000 from the same period last year. In addition, GM said its quarterly market share in the region increased to 17.5%, representing the best third-quarter share since 1997. Shares of GM were gaining 3.8% to $41.50.