Up and Down: USEC, Provident Bankshares, FTI, Gladstone Commercial
Our look at last week for local stocks: Many new movers on the list of top 10 losers, Sprint Nextel continues to struggle, and a couple of companies' earnings give them a boost.
USEC (USU) had a bad week, on Monday projecting 2008 earnings that disappointed analysts and saying fourth-quarter profit fell 37 percent and Tuesday reporting that a plant it's building in Ohio will cost $1.2 billion more than it thought. Shares of the Bethesda firm, which sells enriched uranium for power plants, hit a low of $6.07 on Friday after closing out the previous week at $8.90. They closed Friday at $6.38, down 28 percent for the week.
Not far behind was Provident Bankshares (PBKS), whose shares fell 25 percent last week to close at $12.73. Shares are down 45 percent over the past three months. Late Tuesday, the company said it may have to take additional write-downs on its real estate investment portfolio, and Thursday, an analyst downgraded its shares from hold to sell. Financial institutions seem to get on the list of top 10 weekly losers every week; last week, Provident was joined by Middleburg Financial (MBRG), whose shares fell 9 percent; Virginia Commerce Bancorp (VCBI), whose shares fell 8 percent; and Eagle Bancorp (EGBN), whose shares fell 8 percent.
Sprint Nextel (S), which won't qualify for our list for too much longer, had a trifecta: It was on the list of one-week, three-month and one-year losers. Shares were down 20 percent for the week, 54 percent for the past three months, and 63 percent for the year. Shares are around 2002 levels, closing out the week at $7.11. Last week, the company not only posted a huge loss for the fourth quarter but didn't offer an optimistic outlook, as it thinks many of its customers won't be able to keep paying their bills.
MiddleBrook Pharmaceuticals (MBRK) of Germantown is again the top three-month gainer, with its shares up 277 percent in that period, ending the week at $4.22. (They're up 68 percent for the year and gained 28 percent last week, putting them at the top of the weekly gainer list, too.) The company is to report earnings on Tuesday.
Shares of FTI Consulting (FCN) of Baltimore gained 19 percent last week, closing at $63.50, new 52-week high. They're up 89 percent in the past year. It was reported last week that FTI was hired by MF Global to review its systems after the Bermuda-based company reported that a trader lost $141.5 million on wheat futures. The company reported a profit that beat expectations on Thursday, and Friday an analyst raised his earnings estimate and reiterated his "buy" rating on the stock.
Gladstone Commercial (GOOD) of McLean also reported earnings last week, and its stock gained percent, to $17.26. The previous week, Gladstone was on our list of top 10 losers, with a loss of 9 percent. The real estate investment trust reported that it made 15 acquisitions in 2007, more than in 2006 despite the problems in the credit markets. And its president, Chip Stelljes, was optimistic: "Even though the credit markets are currently very tumultuous, we are confident that we will be able to continue to grow our portfolio during 2008 by securing alternative sources of financing," he said in a statement.
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