SAN FRANCISCO – Among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trade in Tuesday's session are Merrill Lynch & Co., Biogen Idec Inc. and Aztar Corp.
Aztar Corp. (AZR) said it plans to enter into separate discussions with Colony Capital Acquisitions LLC and Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA) regarding their unsolicited acquisition proposals. Colony has offered $41 a share for Aztar, a Phoenix-based operator of gambling halls, while Ameristar is bidding $42 a share in a deal worth $2.5 billion. Aztar said both offers are likely to result in superior proposals to the $38-a-share buyout bid it accepted on March 13 from Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK)
Best Buy Stores Inc. (BBY) said it is cutting 300 jobs from its corporate staff at its Richfield, Minn.-based headquarters. The world's largest electronics retailer said the layoffs were made across the board but will not affect in-store positions, according to spokeswoman Dawn Bryant. The company still plans to hire another 8,000 in-store employees this year for a total of 128,000.
Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) said data published in the March 14 issue of Neurology showed that its drug Avonex delayed the risk of developing clinically definite multiple sclerosis for up to five years in patients who began treatment immediately after their first attack. Multiple sclerosis affects more than a million people worldwide, Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen said. See After Hours column.
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (CHKP) said it expects first-quarter income of 25 cents to 26 cents a share. The company lowered its pro forma outlook for first-quarter per-share income to a range of 30 cents to 31 cents. In January, the company had said it expected pro forma first-quarter profit of 32 cents to 34 cents a share. Check Point also lowered its quarterly revenue forecast to a range of $133 million to $134 million. For the full year, the company expects revenue of $580 million to $610 million, per-share income of $1.16 to $1.24 and pro forma per-share income of $1.37 to $1.45.
Ciena Corp. (CIEN) said it plans to sell up to $250 million of convertible senior notes due 2013. The Linthicum, Md.-based networking company said it will use the proceeds of the offering for general corporate purposes.
Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL) said March traffic increased 11.2% to 7.69 billion revenue passenger miles. March load factor, or the percentage of a plane filled with passengers, rose 0.7 percentage points to 81.2%, while net capacity rose 10.1% to 9.47 billion available seat miles.
FEI Co. (FEIC) said Vahe Sarkissian has stepped down as chairman, president and chief executive. Sarkissian will be resigning as a director effective May 11, FEIC said. The Hillsboro, Ore.-based company named Chief Financial Officer Raymond Link as interim CEO.
Global ePoint Inc. (GEPT) reported a fiscal 2005 net loss applicable to common shareholders of $9.9 million, or 75 cents a share, vs. a net loss applicable to common shareholders of $6.7 million, or 61 cents a share, in fiscal 2004. Revenue at the City of Industry, Calif.-based maker of security technologies rose to $32.7 million from $21.1 million. The company said it expects to achieve profitability in 2006 on revenue of $50 million to $60 million.
Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER) said its expects first-quarter net earnings to be reduced by $1.2 billion after taxes as a result of a new accounting standard for stock-based employee compensation, and related modifications to the retirement eligibility requirements of its stock awards. See full story.
Mitsubishi Motors (MMTOF) said its March U.S. sales totaled 10,250 units, up 29% from February's level. The company's most popular model was its Galant sedan at 2,521 units.
Powerwave Technologies Inc. (PWAV) cut its first-quarter revenue forecast to a range of $190 million to $200 million. The Santa Ana, Calif.-based wireless solutions provider had previously forecast first-quarter revenue of $240 million to $250 million.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX) said it is restructuring operations, and expects a charge of $80 million to $100 million, a portion of which will be recorded in the first quarter. Excluding restructuring costs, Valeant sees pro forma per-share income of more than 50 cents in 2006. For 2007, the company expects pro forma per-share income of more than $1.