Thursday, June 22, 2006

According to the Wall Street Journals "Heard on the Street" column, Pier 1 (PIR), is revamping its furniture and home-decor offerings in an attempt to appeal to more upscale shoppers. Some investors argue that the overhaul ought to include the CEO's job, too. The future of Marvin Girouard as Chmn and CEO likely will be discussed today, when the co hosts its AGM and its board convenes afterward. "If the latest strategy doesn't work by the end of the year, that might be when the board starts looking at other alternatives and bigger changes," BB&T analyst Laura Richardson said. Ms. Richardson rates Pier 1's stock a Hold.

The WSJ reprots that Rising concern over potentially deadly blood clots has led some cardiac centers to cut back on use of drug-coated stents. The moves come as a growing number of studies question the effectiveness and safety of the stents. Stents generated $5.3bn in sales last year in a field dominated by Boston Scientific (BSX) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). Hospitals aren't drastically curbing use of coated stents, and there's no indication yet of an overall decline in sales of them. But some leading hospitals have started substituting uncoated, bare-metal stents in some patients. Moreover, the debate over the safety of drug-coated stents could signal turmoil in the booming industry.

Barron's Online discusses sowftware vendors that rent software, saying that those firms have the edge. Red Hat (RHAT) and Akamai (AKAM) are two such rent-a-software co's that can outperform the industry over the next 12 months. It's a good bet that signs of health in software will ultimately redound to the benefit of these younger firms. "I don't think Oracle could have posted that kind of quarter if the [information technology] spending environment weren't generally healthy," says Tony Ursillo, who helps manage $81bn for Loomis Sayles. "But I think the best opportunity is to target co's offering software as a service."

Notablecalls: Not actionable news today, but all good to know.

No comments: