By and large, stocks backpedaled to head downward after the close, but a number of names managed to eke out substantial gains on encouraging numbers.United Rentals ( URI) was among these, jumping more than 11% after setting its 2008 earnings outlook at $2.80 to $3 a share against analysts' $2.60 estimates, as per Thomson Financial. 2007 earnings should come to between $2.55 and $2.60 a share, excluding a $100 million one-time merger-termination benefit. That fee, which Connecticut-based United requested from Cerberus Capital Management last month under a terminated July buyout agreement, pans out at 50 cents a share. Analysts are looking for $2.61 a share before special items. The construction equipment rental company's shares added $1.88 to $18.45. Shuffle Master ( SHFL) was also among the late winners after fiscal fourth-quarter sales added 13.4% year over year to a better-than-expected $51.7 million. Wall Street had the Las Vegas gambling-equipment maker bringing in just $44.6 million. Moreover, a $6.7 million tax benefit boosted fiscal fourth quarter income to $8.2 million, or 24 cents a share. Year ago earnings totaled a dime a share. The Street was seeking a dime a share, excluding one-off items. Shares were up $1.21, or 13.3%, to $10.30 in recent extended trading. And fast-food chain Denny's ( DENN) trended higher despite reporting that same-store sales dropped 1.2% at company restaurants in the fourth quarter vs. last year. The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company also said comps rose 0.3% at franchised locations, though that's down 2 percentage points from last year's gain.
CEO Nelson Marchioli said that, "excluding the impact of severe weather in December," these figures were in line with its own expectations. He also predicted that Denny's will meet its full-year earnings guidance, which was last pegged at a pretax range of $8 million to $10 million. Denny's shares added 5.2% at $3.24 to recoup nearly all of their heavily traded losses in the regular session. Meanwhile, among the after-hours losers, American Express ( AXP) lost 6.8% to $45.59 after the credit card issuer said it will take a fourth quarter pretax charge of $440 million -- $275 million after taxes -- due to rising loan delinquencies. As a result, continuing operations income should range between 70 cents and 72 cents a share. Analysts are seeking 87 cents a share.