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Early Edge: AZZ, Geron, Xyratex, and Yingli Green Energy

AZZ and XRTX reported earnings, GERN named a new CEO, and YGE unveiled a stock buyback plan

by 9/30/2011 9:22:44 AM
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Checking out a few of today's hot stocks on the move, we've got a lukewarm full-year forecast from AZZ Incorporated (AZZ), a new CEO for Geron Corporation (GERN), disappointing fourth-quarter guidance from Xyratex Ltd. (XRTX), and a $100-million stock buyback plan for Yingli Green Energy Holding Company (YGE).

AZZ

AZZ Incorporated (AZZ - 40.19) announced last night that its fiscal second-quarter earnings slipped 0.4% to $9.61 million, or 76 cents per share, from its year-ago profit of $9.65 million, or 77 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter climbed 15% to $114.7 million, but gross margin contracted to 26.5% from 29.2%. Analysts, on average, were looking for AZZ to earn 76 cents per share on $116 million in revenue.

AZZ price chartFor the full fiscal year, AZZ backed its forecast for earnings of $2.90 to $3.10 per share on revenue of $450 million to $475 million. The guidance could be a little cautious for Wall Street's taste, as consensus estimates are calling for a fiscal 2012 profit of $3.09 per share on $467.4 million in revenue.

AZZ is down 1.7% ahead of the bell, deepening a recent breach of support at its 50-week moving average. Today's post-earnings pullback will likely leave AZZ in negative territory for the year, as the shares are currently clinging to a slim gain of 0.5% for 2011.

Meanwhile, a round of price-target cuts from brokerage firms could accelerate the stock's decline. Thomson Reuters pegs the average 12-month price target at $58.50, representing a healthy premium of 45.6% to Thursday's close at $40.19.

Geron

After Thursday's close, Geron Corporation (GERN - 2.16) revealed that John A. Scarlett, M.D., has been appointed as CEO. Scarlett, who also won a seat on Geron's board of directors, most recently served as president and CEO of Proteolix, which was acquired by Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) in 2009. Interim CEO David Greenwood has stepped down from the company's board, but will remain in his role as president and chief financial officer through the end of the year to facilitate the executive transition.

GERN has skipped to a pre-market gain of 4.6%, erasing a portion of its steep 58.4% year-to-date deficit. However, the stock is set to open right near its 10-day moving average, which has served as resistance in recent weeks.

Despite GERN's dismal price action, analysts remain defiantly optimistic toward the technical laggard. Of the seven brokerage firms following the shares, Zacks reports that four maintain a "strong buy" opinion, with not a single "sell" to be found.

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