Ahead of the Bell: NCR upgraded after 4Q results

A Baird analyst upgraded shares of NCR Corp. Friday, saying business is improving for the maker of ATMs, checkout scanners and self-serve kiosks.

The Duluth, Ga. company posted fourth-quarter results above analysts’ expectations Thursday and issued full-year revenue guidance roughly in line with Wall Street’s predictions.

Baird analyst Reik W. Read upgraded NCR to “Outperform” from “Neutral” and raised his target price to $17 from $12.

The upgrade is based on improvements in international ATM markets, as well as the prospect of an improving point-of-sale, or checkout scanner, market, in the second half of 2010.

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“The ATM business is seeing stability as Asia remains positive and Europe appears incrementally better,” Read wrote in a note to investors. “North America is stable.”

The analyst added that NCR’s entertainment business “appears to be tracking on plan, but expectations are low.”  [Read the full article]

Strong sales of a schizophrenia drug during the third quarter prompted an analysts to upgrade shares of Alkermes Inc. on Friday.

Jefferies and Co. analyst David Windley upgraded the stock to “Buy” from “Hold” a day after Alkermes reported its quarterly results. He said sales of schizophrenia drug Risperdal Consta are improving, while the company could soon get marketing approval for its diabetes drug exenatide LAR, and find a new partner for its drug candidate Vivitrol.

The Cambridge, Mass., company develops long-lasting versions of drugs. It makes Risperdal Consta for Johnson & Johnson, and is working on a long-acting version of Eli Lilly and Co.’s diabetes drug Byetta with Lilly and Amylin Inc.

Windley said sales of Risperdal Consta are not being hurt by the launch of Sustenna, another Johnson & Johnson anti-psychotic.

“Concerns that J&J would focus its attention disproportionately on Sustenna, hurting Consta sales, appear overblown. [Read the full article]

Bigger corn crops, higher sweetener shipments and growing demand for agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s soybean products will boost its shares, said a Deutsche Bank analyst as she upgraded the company Friday.

U.S. farmers are likely to grow more corn this season, said analyst Christina McGlone — that means lower costs for ADM, the buyer, and higher profits in its agricultural services division. Meanwhile, she expects bigger shipments of sweetener to Mexico and a rebound in demand for soybean meal and oil, both ADM products.

The company said earlier this week when reporting second-quarter profit that it will benefit from a strengthening market for ethanol.

Shares of the Decatur, Ill., company rose 33 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $30.39 in premarket trading.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. [Read the full article]

A strong end-of-year performance by medical instrument maker PerkinElmer led one analyst to upgrade its stock Friday, saying the company could top its own expectations in 2010.

“We think PerkinElmer has set a very conservative guidance for the year,” wrote Robert W. Baird and Co. analyst Quintin Lai.

Late Thursday, PerkinElmer posted a larger profit and greater revenue for the fourth quarter than analysts had expected. It forecast a profit of $1.35 to $1.42 per share for the year and said its 2010 sales will grow in the low- to mid-single digits.

Thomson Reuters says analysts it polled expect growth of about 4.5 percent. Lai said the company expects greater sales of medical imaging devices, industrial and safety products, and high end instruments, and thinks economic conditions will improve.

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