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22-05-2012 15:04:00

US STOCK FUTURES: HOT STOCKS TO WATCH

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Among the companies with shares expected to actively trade in Tuesday's session are Best Buy Co. (BBY), Express Inc. (EXPR), and AutoZone Inc. (AZO).

Best Buy's fiscal first-quarter earnings fell 25% as the electronics seller shouldered costs tied to its restructuring effort and suffered a steep drop in same-store sales. Still, shares recently jumped 6.2% to $19.20 in premarket trade as the results exceeded Wall Street expectations and the company backed its full-year guidance.

Express Inc.'s (EXPR) fiscal first-quarter earnings rose 20% from a year-earlier period weighed down by debt-reduction costs as margins slipped on slower-than-expected sales growth. Muted first-quarter growth for the apparel chain prompted Express to cut its earnings-per-share target for the year and the company said same-store sales growth might not be as robust as it previously anticipated. Shares fell 20% to $18.50 premarket.

AutoZone Inc.'s (AZO) fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 9.3% as the largest auto-parts retailer in the U.S. lifted its same-store sales and held margins steady. But its domestic same-store sales growth for the quarter was the slightest for the company in at least a year and overall revenue growth wasn't as robust as analysts anticipated. Shares fell 3% to $357.50 premarket.

Urban Outfitters Inc.'s (URBN) fiscal first-quarter earnings fell 8.6% as the apparel retailer posted weaker margins and higher overhead costs, though same-store sales improved. Still, shares rose 2.3%, to $26.76 in premarket trading, as the profit beat expectations.

Medtronic Inc.'s (MDT) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 28% as the medical-device maker reported fewer charges and broad revenue growth. Shares climbed 2.1% to $38.50 premarket.

Ralph Lauren Corp.'s (RL) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 29% on double-digit revenue and same-store sales growth, while the premium-brand clothing maker doubled its quarterly dividend. But the company also forecast a mid-single-digit percentage increase in fiscal 2013 revenue amid reduced distribution in Greater China and for American Living, combined with unfavorable foreign-currency effects. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect full-year revenue growth of 11% to $7.57 billion. Shares declined 2.9% to $142 in recent premarket trading.

Hampton Roads Bankshares Inc. (HMPR) unveiled plans to raise up to $95 million through the sale of its common stock in a private placement and a public rights offering, as the financial holding company looks to satisfy regulatory capital requirements and raise significant additional capital. Shares slid 20% to $2.65 premarket as the company said its three largest shareholders have agreed to purchase $50 million of its common stock at 70 cents a share, a 79% discount to the stock's Monday closing price.

Standard and Poor's said it will add Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALXN) to the S&P 500 after the close of trading Thursday, replacing Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (MMI). Alexion shares rose 3.4% to $91.80 premarket.

Watchlist:

Fitch Ratings upgraded CenterPoint Energy Inc. (CNP) one notch further into investment grade, saying the energy-delivery company has seen consistent progress in improving its financial flexibility and in reducing borrowing.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.'s (CBRL) fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 25% as the company reported stronger sales at its restaurants and retail operations.

Financial-services holding company Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (FRFHF, FFH.T) said Monday it agreed to buy Thomas Cook Group PLC's (TCG.LN) 77% interest in Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. (500413.BY) for about $150 million.

Georgia Gulf Corp. (GGC) said it reinstated its quarterly dividend after a four-year suspension, as the chemical company's financial position strengthens.

Generac Holdings Inc. (GNRC) said it will cut the total size of its previously proposed $1.2 billion refinancing plan and unveiled other changes to the recapitalization plan, citing recent financing market conditions.

Knight Transportation Inc. (KNX) said its secretary and treasurer Adam Miller will take on the added role of chief financial officer.

Nordson Corp.'s (NDSN) fiscal second-quarter earnings slumped 20% as the maker of dispensing equipment saw lighter organic volume and higher expenses weaken margins. However, the company forecast upbeat third-quarter results.

Old Republic International Corp. (ORI) said it sold a 21% common equity interest in Republic Financial Indemnity Group Inc. to a group of investors in a partial leveraged buyout, as the insurer looks to recapitalize its businesses.

RailAmerica Inc. (RA) said it will redeem $74 million of the railroad company's remaining 9.25% senior secured notes due in 2017.

Shaw Group Inc. (SHAW) said it agreed to sell substantially all of its energy and chemicals business to Technip SA (TEC.FR, TKPPY) for about $300 million in cash, allowing the company to focus on its primary industries. Due to the projected net gain from the sale, Shaw raised its full-year earnings guidance.

STAG Industrial Inc. (STAG) said it plans to offer 7.3 million shares of company stock, looking to use the proceeds to fund acquisitions, repay debt and for general working capital.

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its outlook on The Washington Post Co. (WPO) to negative from stable on expectations that operating performance at the media company's higher-education unit will remain depressed over the near-to-intermediate term.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. (WSM) fiscal first-quarter earnings fell 2.8%, due in part to severance expenses related to an executive's departure in March, while increased shipping offers weakened the high-end home-furnishing-retailer's margins.

-Edited by Corrie Driebusch, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2143; corrie.driebusch@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 22, 2012 09:04 ET (13:04 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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