Friday, March 18, 2011

Stocks In Focus: CSCO, NKE, EL, GIS, CRA

Shares of the following companies may have unusual moves in U.S. trading on Friday, March 18, 2011.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) on Friday announced that on March 17, 2011, its Board of Directors approved the initiation of quarterly cash dividends to its shareholders. This is the first cash dividend paid to shareholders in the company's history.

After Friday's closing bell, Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) reported that its fiscal third-quarter net income rose to $523 million, or $1.08 a share, from $497 million, or $1.01 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue grew 7% to $5 billion from $4.73 billion. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of $1.11 per share on revenue of $5.16 billion.Nike said its gross margin fell 110 basis points to 45.8% as the cost to make and ship its products rose. Nike shares lumped more than 7% in pre-market trading.

Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL) on Friday reaffirmed expectations for sales growth and earnings per share for it fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. Net sales for the year are expected to grow between 8% and 10% on a constant currency basis. The Company said its estimate for diluted earnings per share for the fiscal year, including charges associated with restructuring activities, continues to be between $3.20 and $3.43. Projected diluted net earnings per share for fiscal 2011, before charges associated with restructuring activities remains between $3.40 and $3.60. The Company's long-term fiscal 2013 goals also remain unchanged. Fabrizio Freda, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Most important to our Company, we are thankful that all of our employees in Japan are safe and accounted for. We are amazed by their courage and dedication to support our business. We are also doing what we can to support the Japanese people in this moment of crisis.

General Mills (NYSE: GIS) announced today that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with PAI Partners and Sodiaal to purchase interests in Yoplait S.A.S., and affiliated companies. General Mills' binding offer includes a controlling role in the operating company and a 50 percent interest in the entity which owns Yoplait and related brands.

Shares of Celera Corporation (NASDAQ: CRA) soared more than 26% in pre-market trading Friday after it agreed to be acquired by Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE: DGX) for $8 per share, representing a transaction value of approximately $344 million, net of $327 million in acquired cash and short-term investments. Kathy Ordonez, Chief Executive Officer of Celera, stated: "We are pleased to have reached an agreement through which Celera and our Berkeley HeartLab become part of the world's most respected diagnostic testing company. Our discovery and validation of new biomarkers has exceeded our capacity to commercialize them. Combining Celera's expertise in genetics with Quest Diagnostics' medical leadership, market access and scale is expected to speed the realization of our vision to personalize medicine. We believe this is a compelling transaction that accelerates the delivery of value to our shareholders."

Full Disclosure: None.
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