Friday Winners: Oracle, Accenture and MannKind


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Among the biggest winners in Friday's early trading are Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) , Accenture (NYSE: ACN ) and MannKind (Nasdaq: MNKD ) .

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Top Percentage Gainers -- Friday, June 25, 2010
Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Intra-Day
% Gain
52-Week High 52-Week Low
Accenture (NYSE: ACN ) $39.62 +5.5% $44.67 $17.74
MannKind (Nasdaq: MNKD ) $42.06 +5.4% $12.30 $4.76
Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) $22.83 +2.7% $26.63 $19.79

*Table includes companies with minimum market capitalizations of $200 million and three month trading volumes of at least 100,000 shares. All percentage returns are listed as of 10:49AM Eastern Standard Time . Click on ticker symbols for up-to-the-minute price quotes and percentage gain data.

Oracle makes Quick Progress with Sun

When software developer Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) announced plans to acquire Sun Microsystems last year, most thought that CEO Larry Ellison had finally gone too far with the company's growth-through-acquisition strategy. After all, Oracle is a software giant, and had little experience selling the kinds of hardware that Sun Micro sold. Moreover, Sun had become a no-growth platform that was barely profitable.

Well, score one for Oracle. Fiscal fourth-quarter results that were released Thursday evening show that Sun is contributing to growth and profitability already. And that's pushing shares up nearly +3% in Friday trading. Oracle believes that by adding Sun, it now has a more comprehensive platform that is opening up more sales opportunities. The company spent a fair share of its press release trash-talking rival SAP (NYSE: SAP ) , which would be quite an unusual move -- if it were any company other Oracle, that is nothing if not brash.

Oracle also noted that Sun could contribute $2 billion in cash flow by next year, which would be well above what most analysts had come to expect. But it's too soon to sound the all-clear. Sun had lost a lot of momentum before being acquired, and it's too soon to conclude after one quarter that Oracle can truly rebuild market share for Sun's servers.

Most important for investors, Oracle says that demand in Europe has been quite strong. I have been speculating that Euro-related woes would start to hurt U.S. multinationals in the coming earnings season , but that's not the case here. "There's no question the U.K. government and a number of our big customers have been impacted by different things in Europe, but we have so many products and so much diversity in our European base that things are going well for us so far," said company president Safra Catz on the conference call.

Action to Take --> Some of the quarterly strength may be due to an end-of-fiscal-year sales push. But as is the case with many other tech giants, shares trade at very reasonable multiples, and Oracle appears set for continued respectable growth in the near-term. Management's task is to queue up the next large deal to maintain growth over the mid-term. Despite Friday's rally, shares look quite attractive.


Accenture's Euro Headwinds

Shares of consulting firm Accenture (NYSE: ACN ) are showing the perils of doing business in Europe these days. The company announced on Thursday evening that sales grew +8% in its fiscal third quarter, but the weaker euro trimmed that figure to +4%. That should give you an insight as to what we may see as earnings season gears up in a few weeks.

Despite the currency headwind, analysts applaud the results, and shares are up nearly +6% in Friday trading. The rebound is a bit of a "relief rally," as investors had been pushing shares down in recent weeks on Europe-related concerns. Accenture derives more than half of its revenue outside of the United States. This has to be seen as a positive trading sign for many stocks that have also been pushed down recently on Europe concerns. Perhaps we're set up for a "sell on the rumor, buy on the news" rally.

Action to Take --> Regardless of all the background noise, this is a low-growth business. Analysts at Kaufman Brothers note that the company is having a hard time securing new contracts, deal sizes are getting smaller, and competition is intense. "A 7% bookings decline a year into the economic recovery simply does not support the widespread thesis that Accenture is a likely beneficiary of a nice cyclical recovery in IT spend, in our view," they note. Despite the rebound on Friday, this looks to be one of the slower-growing business models in the tech consulting sector.


MannKind's Doubters Remain

When it comes to biotech stocks, investors and analysts' emotions can run high. These stocks trade on perception: will a new drug or device prove effective or be a dud? -- and major sums of money are made or lost on that question. MannKind (Nasdaq; MNKD) , which is developing an inhalable form of insulin, is a poster child for this kind of controversy. Legions of diabetics would surely benefit from no longer needing to use a syringe for insulin. But the company's detractors say that Afrezza, its key drug, is not as effective, and won't get the nod from the Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ).

MannKind is playing offense on Friday, stating that Afrezza is comparably effective to injectable forms of insulin, and also doesn't yield the weight gain seen with injectable insulin. The company is expected to release its findings on Saturday at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting. Shares are up nearly +6% on Friday in anticipation of that meeting, after rising more than +10% on Thursday.

Action to Take --> In addition to diabetes, MannKind also believes that its inhalable devices can be used as a drug delivery mechanism for cancer vaccines. Clearly, the company is facing a large market opportunity, but shares have been dogged by a seemingly tepid response from the FDA, which has questioned Afrezza's efficacy. That news pushed shares down sharply a few months ago. I'll leave it to biotech experts to decide whether these approaches have a high degree of success. The stock certainly merits further research.

-- David Sterman
Staff Writer

Disclosure: David Sterman does not own shares of any security mentioned in this article.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing Stocks
Referenced Stocks: ACN , FDA , MNKD , ORCL , SAP

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