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Stocks to Watch, Jan. 4: Hot Topic and Monsanto

Among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trade in Thursday's session are Constellation Brands Inc., Hot Topic Inc. and Monsanto Co.

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Arrow International Inc. (ARRO) is expected to report earnings of 34 cents a share for the first quarter, according to analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

Constellation Brands (STZ) is expected to post third-quarter earnings of 60 cents a share.

Healthways Inc. (HWAY) is expected to report earnings of 32 cents a share for the first quarter.

Matrix Service Co. (MTRX) is expected to post second-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share.

Monsanto (MON) is expected to report earnings of 10 cents a share for the first quarter.

MSC Industrial Direct Co. (MSM) is expected to post first-quarter earnings of 58 cents a share.

Robbins & Myers Inc. (RBN) is expected to report earnings of 48 cents a share for the first quarter.

RPM International Inc. (RPM) is expected to post second-quarter earnings of 33 cents a share.

Saba Software Inc. (SABA) is expected to report earnings of 6 cents a share for the second quarter.

Texas Industries Inc. (TXI) is expected to post second-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share.

After Wednesday's closing bell, Hot Topic (HOTT) slashed its fourth-quarter per-share earnings forecast and said that sales at stores open at least one year fell more than expected in December, despite heavy markdowns.

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Teen-apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS) said that it had an "excellent" holiday sales performance and upped its fourth-quarter forecast. Warrendale, Pa.-based American Eagle said sales jumped 20% to $522.4 million in December. Sales at stores open longer than a year were up 13%, well ahead of the 8.7% average increase expected by analysts reporting to Thomson Financial. The retailer raised its fourth-quarter profit projection a penny to a per-share range of 64 cents to 65 cents.

Applica Inc. (APN) said that Harbinger Capital Partners has increased its offer for the company to $7.75 a share from $7.50. Earlier today, Nacco Industries Inc. (NC) increased its offer to $7.75 a share. Applica, a Miramar, Fla.-based home appliance maker, said it has accepted the increased offer from Harbinger, and once again recommended the rejection of Nacco's offer.

Atari Inc. (ATAR) said its shareholders have approved a 1-for-10 reverse stock split, in an effort to prevent the stock's delisting from the Nasdaq Global Market.

Carrier Access Corp. (CACS) said it expects a fourth-quarter loss of 24 cents to 28 cents a share on revenue of $12.3 million to $12.5 million. On a pro forma basis, the loss is expected to be 21 cents to 25 cents a share for the quarter, the Boulder, Colo.-based manufacturer of broadband communications equipment said. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are currently forecasting a fourth-quarter loss of 15 cents a share on revenue of $16 million.

Citi Trends Inc. (CTRN) said its December sales at stores open at least one year slipped 0.1%. Analysts, on average, had expected it to post a same-store sales gain of 2.8%, according to Thomson First Call. Total net sales for the five weeks ended Dec. 30 rose 17.8% to $60.4 million

Con-way Inc. (CNW) said it now expects fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations of 72 cents to 76 cents a share. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company had previously forecast per-share earnings from continuing operations of 81 cents to 87 cents a share for the quarter. The outlook doesn't include an expected gain from the sale of Vector SCM LLC, the company's logistics joint venture with General Motors Corp. (GM) .

Genaera Corp. (GENR) said it plans to terminate the Evizon clinical development program in wet age-related macular degeneration and cut its workforce by roughly 30%. The Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based biopharmaceutical company said it will instead focus its resources on the development of trodusquemine for the treatment of obesity. Genaera added that it has engaged Banc of America Securities LLC as its financial advisor to assist the company in its review of strategic alternatives.

Harrah's Entertainment Inc. (HET) Chief Operating Officer Timothy Wilmott has resigned, effective Friday, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gary Loveman, the chairman, president and chief executive officer, has assumed Wilmott's responsibilities, the Las Vegas-based company said.

Immucor Inc. (BLUD) reported second-quarter net earnings of $14.1 million, or 20 cents a share, up 75% from $8.06 million, or 11 cents a share, during the year-ago period. The Norcross, Ga.-based company posted revenue of $54.4 million vs. $44 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had forecast second-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share on revenue of $52 million. The gross margin was 69.5% compared with 64.8% a year ago. Additionally, Immucor said it now expects fiscal 2007 per-share earnings of 75 cents to 78 cents, up from its previous estimate of 69 cents to 74 cents. The company also said it now sees revenue for the year of $214 million to $218 million, compared with its previous forecast of $204 million to $212 million.

Intervoice Inc. (INTV) reported a fiscal third-quarter net loss of $88,000, or breakeven on a per-share basis. In the same quarter last year, the company posted net earnings of $3.63 million, or 9 cents a share. Excluding items, the Dallas-based software provider reported income of $2.56 million, or 7 cents a share, vs. $2.64 million, or 7 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue in the period ended Nov. 30 rose to $52.8 million from $41 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had forecast a per-share loss of 5 cents on revenue of $51 million. Intervoice expects fiscal fourth-quarter revenue of $48 million to $52 million.

Men's Wearhouse Inc. (MW) said it still expects fourth-quarter earnings of 72 cents to 76 cents a share and adjusted earnings of 68 cents to 72 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are currently forecasting fourth-quarter earnings of 75 cents a share. For 2006, the Houston-based retailer said it expects per-share earnings of $2.48 to $2.52 and adjusted per-share earnings of $2.50 to $2.54.

Merix Corp. (MERX) reported fiscal second-quarter net earnings of $1.76 million, or 8 cents a share. Excluding a $1.35 million charge related to the disposal of its single-sided businesses, the company reported earnings from continuing operations of 15 cents a share. In the same quarter last year, Merix posted a net loss of $2.35 million, or 12 cents a share. Revenue rose to $103.7 million from $61 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had forecast earnings of 14 cents a share on revenue of $105 million. The Forest Grove, Ore.-based maker of printed circuit boards forecast fiscal third-quarter income from continuing operations of 5 cents to 15 cents a share on revenue of $100 million to $104 million.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s (RCL) Royal Caribbean International said it plans to begin removing trans fat from its menu items beginning March 1.

Sigma-Aldrich Corp. (SIAL) said it has granted Pfizer Inc. (PFE) a worldwide non-exclusive research license to use DNA-directed RNAi, or ddRNAi, technology. Financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.

Sonic Inc. (SONC) said first-quarter net earnings dipped to $15.3 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with $16.4 million, or 18 cents a share, for the same period a year ago. Sales rose to $174.8 million vs. $159.8 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2006. Earnings were negatively affected by 1 cent a share due to one-time gains and losses. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected the restaurant operator to post earnings of 20 cents a share for the quarter. Sonic said it expects to earn 16 cents to 17 cents a share in the second quarter, excluding one-time items, in line with estimates of 16 cents.

Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) is putting its advertising account up for review, according to a media report. The telecommunications company opted for the review in an effort to explore new approaches to marketing and to reduce the number of agencies it works with, The Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition, citing a company spokeswoman. Sprint currently uses Omicom Group Inc.'s (OMC) TBWAChiatDay for consumer advertising and Publicis Groupe SA's (PUB) Publicis & Hal Riney for business-to-business advertising.

Technical Olympic USA Inc. (TOA) named Stephen Wagman as chief financial officer. Wagman joins the Hollywood, Fla.-based homebuilder from MasTec Inc.

United Auto Group Inc. (UAG) said it has named Roger Penske Jr. as president and Robert O'Shaughnessy as chief financial officer. The appointments are effective immediately, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based automotive retailer said.

VSE Corp. (VSEC) said it has received contracts in the fourth quarter worth up to $206.8 million, if all options are exercised.

Witness Systems Inc. (WITS) said it expects fourth-quarter revenue of roughly $63 million and full-year 2006 revenue of $220 million. On an adjusted basis, which excludes hardware sales and the fair value adjustment to purchased service and support contracts, the company estimates fourth-quarter revenue of $62 million and 2006 revenue of $214 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are forecasting fourth-quarter revenue of $58 million and 2006 revenue of $212 million. The Atlanta-based software company also forecast 2007 adjusted revenue of $250 to $255 million. Analysts are looking for 2007 revenue of $247 million.

Specialty retailer Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ) that sales at stores open more than a year, or same-store sales, climbed 11.5% during December, markedly higher than the 6.5% estimates from analysts polled by Thomson First Call. The seller of sports-related apparel said same-store sales rose 20.9% a year ago. Zumiez added that total net sales jumped by 40.5% to $62.5 million from $44.5 million in December 2005.

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