Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stock In Focus: HAL, HD, AKS, VRTX

Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) late Monday reiterated that it expects first quarter earnings to be impacted by seasonal declines due to the effect of year-end product sales and typical weather-related issues that occur in the first quarter of every year. The company estimates that the impact of these items will be at the high end of the historical range of 5 to 8 cents per share due to adverse weather conditions in North America and Australia. Additionally, the company has experienced disruptions due to geopolitical issues in certain locations in the Middle East and North Africa that will severely affect first quarter results in the range of 3 to 4 cents per share. The company may incur additional charges such as asset impairments or allowances as a consequence of the events in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly due to the sanctions imposed on Libya. The company also announced that it expects to increase activity in its Manifa project based on discussions with its customer in Saudi Arabia. The company was awarded the offshore portion of the Manifa project in 2008 to provide directional drilling, logging-while-drilling, cementing, logging and perforating, coiled tubing and stimulation services for 93 wells offshore Northeast Saudi Arabia.

Home Depot (NYSE: HD) announced late Monday that it is accelerating the buyback of $1 billion in shares in conjunction with Barclays Capital. The home improvement store plans to finance the share repurchase program with a debt issue of $2 billion.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, hedge-fund giant Steven Cohen reported a 4.8% stake in AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS). As of Dec. 31, SAC Capital and its affiliates had reported a stake of less than 1% in the steel maker.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: VRTX) on Tuesaday announced positive results from a 24-week analysis of the ongoing Phase 3 ENVISION study of VX-770, an oral medicine in development that targets the defective protein that causes cystic fibrosis.

Full Disclosure: None.

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