Roundup: GenVec, Martek, Marriott, GD, Lockheed

From staff and wire reports

* GenVec said early test results of its treatment for esophageal cancer showed encouraging long-term results. The median survival time for patients taking the Gaithersburg company's drug, TNFerade, along with chemo radiation, was 48.4 months, compared with 9.7 to 18.6 months in comparable studies. The biotech firm has been tracking its 25 patients with late-stage esophageal cancer since the trial in 2003.

GenVec said it will continue its main focus of treating pancreatic cancer with TNFerade, and the company will evaluate using TNFerade to treat esophageal cancer and other cancers next year when it has more resources.

*Shares of Martek Biosciences (MATK) of Columbia closed at a 52-week high of $37.44 after the company teamed with Dow AgroSciences to develop and sell a type of canola seed that produces the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

*Marriott International's stock (MAR) dropped 70 cents, or 2 percent, to $33.44 after a Morgan Stanley analyst downgraded the hotel operator, saying economic conditions are likely to pressure business travel during the second half of the year.

In a client note, analyst Celeste Mellet Brown said business travel drives lodging profitability. She expects companies will trim the "total trips by employees due to rising airfares, resulting in lower corporate transient demand and lower attendance at events that are not canceled." Mellet Brown cut Marriott's rating to "Equal Weight" from "Overweight."

*BentleyForbes, the real estate investor that bought the office and retail portion of the famous Watergate complex in 2005, pulled the property from the market after buyers would not pay what the company sought.

BentleyForbes, based in Los Angeles, canceled plans to sell the 260,000-square-foot building earlier this month, said Vice Chairman C. Frederick Wehba II. He blamed higher financing costs for the low offers. The property, site of the bungled 1972 burglary that led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation, had been up for sale since March.

*General Dynamics expects growth in its Combat Systems business regardless of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, CEO Nicholas Chabraja said.

The Combat Systems unit, the maker of Abrams tanks and Stryker armored vehicles, is "expected to generate solid growth for the foreseeable future," Chabraja said at a New York presentation run by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. The unit's sales may grow 9 percent to 10 percent this year, he said.

*Genworth Financial, the insurer divested by General Electric, agreed to buy CareScout to expand long-term care support services. The purchase price is $12.5 million, Genworth of Richmond said.

*Lockheed Martin chief executive Robert Stevens confirmed Israel has requested the U.S. allow the sale of as many as 75 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets.

Israel's initial request includes a "firm" requirement for 25 of the aircraft, with options for 50 more, Stevens said at a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.-sponsored conference in New York. The Haaretz newspaper had reported the request May 22, without citing its source.

By Terri Rupar  |  May 29, 2008; 4:30 PM ET  | Category:  Roundup
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