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Hot Stock Minute: Darden Reports, BlackBerry Ripens, Apple Adds Security

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Cyprus is now in need of a plan C. The country's first fallback plan has just fallen through. Russia has rebuffed pleas from the Cypriot Foreign Minister, and refused to fork over bailout money. That means lawmakers in Cyprus must come up with a new plan by Monday. Otherwise the E.C.B. claims it's going to cut off all emergency funding.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) is out with earnings this morning. The chain says its diluted net earnings are down 18% from a year ago. Sales were down 6% at Red Lobster. Darden operates not only Red Lobster, but also chains including Olive Garden where sales were 0.6% higher. The company reduced its guidance last month, at that point saying Olive Garden sales were down almost 10%. Darden shares hit their 52-week high back in October. They're currently about 20% below that water mark.

Today's the day the BlackBerry (BBRY) z10 goes on sale here in the U.S. The device is now ready for the picking at AT&T (T) stores, and will be available from Verizon (VZ) next week. Many are calling the device BlackBerry's last chance at survival. BlackBerry shares are up more than 35% this year on hopes for the z10, and trading volumes have been extremely high. Still, shares are well short of their all-time high back in 2008 when they were roughly $130 apiece.


Nike (NKE) certainly hasn't lost its stride. Shares jumped 8% when the company released earnings after yesterday's closing bell. Some of the highlights: Nike earned 73-cents a share, up from 61 a year ago. Future orders for March are up 6% from a year ago, and revenues are up 9%. The company noted weakening demand in China and Japan but said it was offset by strong business in Europe and emerging markets. Citigroup has now upped it target for the company.

Tiffany (TIF) is reporting earnings this morning. The stock wasn't exactly sparkling yesterday, down almost 2.5%. Analysts are expecting results to come in around $3.20 for the year ending now. That would be toward the low end of the company's own forecast. Tiffany has warned that the weakening Yen has hurt its bottom line. So have smaller margins, particularly on silver products.

Also reporting today is Kayak (KYAK) software, the parent company of Kayak.com. So far the stock isn't making many waves in premarket trading. This company first went public back in July. It hit its lows later in the summer and has been a steady ship since then at around $40-dollars a share. Competitor Priceline (PCLN) announced back in November that it wanted to buy Kayak for $1.8 billion. Right now the deal is under regulatory review.

Finally we look at Monster Beverage (MNST), which seems to have spooked investors. It's down more than 3% in premarket trading. The American Heart Association has issued a report saying energy drinks do in fact appear to increase blood pressure and disturb the heart's rhythm. Monster has recently decided to market its banner product as a beverage rather than a dietary supplement to sidestep federal regulations. Shares are well off their 52-week highs which they hit at the end of last April.