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Stocks to Watch, April 7: Research in Motion, Ford, Starbucks

Among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trade in Friday's session areResearch In Motion Ltd., Ford Motor Co. and Starbucks Corp.

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After Thursday's closing bell, Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) said it swung to a quarterly profit as lower legal expenses and surging sales of its BlackBerry wireless devices offset charges related to a long-running patent lawsuit it settled last month.

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AutoNation Inc. (AN) raised its first-quarter earnings estimate from continuing operations to a range of 36 cents to 38 cents a share from its prior forecast of 32 cents to 35 cents. Results were helped by strength in its premium luxury business. The company also said it expects its previously announced equity tender offer, debt tender offer and consent solicitation will add to future earnings in the range of 13 cents to 15 cents a share on a full-year basis.

CKE Restaurants Inc. (CKR) said fourth-quarter net income was $154.3 million, or $2.14 a share, up from $7.07 million, or 12 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. Quarterly per-share income before taxes and discontinued operations was 22 cents, up from 9 cents in the prior year. CKE said fourth-quarter revenue was $348.5 million, down from $361.9 million last year. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for revenue of $342 million.

A big jump in sales of beer and spirits, along with an acquisition, helped Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) offset a slip in its far larger wine business and push revenue growth to 1% in the fiscal fourth quarter.

Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) said same-store sales increased 13% to 14% in March for its Red Lobster outlets and 3% to 4% at its Olive Garden eateries. The company said sales at Red Lobster restaurants open more than a year were helped by the shift of Lent to March from February last year, aiding results by 5% to 6%.

Extreme Networks Inc. (EXTR) said it now expects third-quarter net revenue of $84 million to $85 million, down from its previous forecast of $90 million to $95 million. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based networking company it expects third-quarter results to range from a profit of a penny to a loss of a penny. Excluding stock-based compensation expense, pro forma earnings are expected to be between 2 cents and breakeven on a per-share basis.

Ford Motor Co. (F) aid President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Padilla plans to retire after 40 years with the automaker, effective July 1.

Horizon Health Corp. (HORC) said second-quarter net income was $1.66 million, or 11 cents a share, down from $3.08 million, or 26 cents a share, during the same period in the prior year. The owner of behavioral healthcare facilities said quarterly revenue was $64.1 million, up from $49.7 million last year. Horizon said it now sees fiscal 2006 per-share income of 92 cents to 97 cents. Also, the company expects fiscal 2007 per-share income of $1.26 to $1.30.

Lawson Software Inc. (LWSN) said its fiscal third-quarter profit more than tripled, helped by cost cutting and one-time gains, as revenue increased 6%. Lawson said its profit jumped to $10 million, or 9 cents a share, from $2.8 million, or 3 cents a share a year ago. Revenue increased to $87.7 million from $82.7 million. The company's per-share profit came in above expectations, while revenue was just shy of the average of analysts' expectations.

Lexar Media Inc. (LEXR) has yet to win the support of one of its biggest shareholders for its pending merger with Micron Technology (MU) . In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the investment group of billionaire Carl Icahn said Lexar officials tried to "persuade" them in an April 5 meeting to support Micron's offer of roughly $680 million.

Same-store sales at Longs Drug Stores (LDG) slid by 0.6% during March, the company said. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected the drug retailer to post a slight increase of 0.7% in stores open more than a year during the month. Longs said total March sales were $443.2 million, flat when compared with the prior year.

Shire Plc (SHP) and Noven Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NOVN) said the Food and Drug Administration has approved Daytrana for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Daytrana, a once-daily transdermal patch, is licensed globally to Shire by Noven and will be available in pharmacies in the United States in mid-2006. As part of the agreement between Shire and Noven, Shire has completed an upfront payment to Noven of $25 million in 2003, and may make separate milestone payments of up to $125 million.

Sonic Corp. (SONC) declared a 3-for-2 stock split, to be distributed in the form of a 50% stock dividend. The Oklahoma City-based drive-in restaurant chain also raised its stock buyback authorization to $110 million from $34.6 million, and extended the term to Aug. 31, 2007. The company expects free cash flow in fiscal 2006 to increase to $50 million, up from $28 million in fiscal 2005.

SafeNet Inc. (SFNT) said it expects first-quarter net earnings to come in below its previous forecast of 2 cents to 9 cents a share, and lowered its revenue outlook to $63 million to $65 million from its previous range of $65 million to $69 million. The Baltimore-based encryption technology company also said Chief Financial Officer Ken Mueller is leaving immediately. Separately, the company announced it has decided to abandon its planned acquisition of nCipher due to the expense and length of the review process in the United Kingdom.

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) reported same-store sales during March were up 10%. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected the company to report a 7.6% increase in stores open more than a year. Starbucks said overall sales were up 24% for the five weeks ended April 2, to $743 million.

WebMethods Inc. (WEBM) said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of 11 cents to 14 cents a share on revenue of $57 million to $59 million. The Fairfax, Va.-based software company had previously forecast a fourth-quarter per-share profit of 5 cents to 10 cents on revenue of $52 million to $55 million.

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