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Aetna (AET) confirmed it has received a letter from WellPoint Health Networks (WLP) and ING America Insurance, who expressed a "desire to begin discussions" regarding a takeover of Aetna.

Aetna said the letter indicated that ING and WellPoint would propose a deal where Aetna stockholders would receive about $70 a share, comprised of $44 in cash and $26 in WellPoint stock. Aetna noted in its statement that WellPoint and ING said in their letter they intended to keep the proposal confidential. Aetna said its board will review the letter. A

CNBC

report this afternoon sent shares of Aetna flying. At the close, Aetna was halted, up 12 11/16, or 30.8%, to 53 13/16 and WellPoint was off 5 5/8, or 8.3%, to 61 7/8.

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Dynatrace, Inc. Report

jumped 4 3/16 to 88 1/2 after saying it is in talks to acquire long-distance provider

Qwest Communications

(Q)

,

USA Today

reported, citing people close to the companies. Qwest popped 12 13/16, or 27.7%, to 59 1/16.

The newspaper said Deutsche Telekom has held talks with several local and long-distance telecommunications companies but has now set its sights on Qwest, which is expected to complete a $36 billion merger with

U S West

(USW)

later this year. The newspaper pointed out that breaking up the Qwest-U S West deal by bidding solely for Qwest would be difficult considering that shareholders of Qwest and U S West have approved their merger. However, Deutsche Telekom could easily afford to buy both firms, but it would likely have to wait until after Qwest and U S West's merger is finalized.

TheStreet Recommends

Separately, U S West said it is in a deal with

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

to offer Intel high-speed home networking. Intel climbed 2 7/8 to 115 7/8.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

CMGI

(CMGI)

,

Hicks Muse Tate & Furst

and

Pacific Century CyberWorks

are forming a new venture capital partnership,

@Ventures Global Partners

. Each entity in the venture capital partnership will invest up to $500 million, to aid the development of Internet companies based in Asia, Europe and the Americas. CMGI lost 1 7/8 to 127 11/16.

eBay

(EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report

rose 5 7/8 to 149 1/4 and

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report

gained 1 5/8 to 34 11/16 after it announced a plan to let online sellers take credit-card payments when selling over the Internet. Wells Fargo will take a 35% stake in the effort, which will be called Billpoint.

Mirage Resorts

(MIR)

gained 3/16 to 15 15/16 after it rejected

MGM Grand's

(MGG)

$3.4 billion takeover offer as inadequate but said it was willing to discuss a transaction recognizing the company's real value. Mirage said it adopted a shareholder purchase rights plan to assure that its board was in a position to best represent the interests of all its stockholders. MGM Grand lost 7/8 to 19.

SAP

(SAP) - Get SAP SE Report

is attempting to form an e-commerce joint venture with

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

in hopes of getting a stake in a big online marketplace for the automotive industry,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. Last week, Daimler said it was teaming up with

Ford

(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report

and

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

for an online automotive-parts exchange. Daimler is the only one of the Big Three automakers that hasn't named a technology partner for the venture yet, the story says. SAP gained 3/16 to 71 1/2, while DaimlerChrysler lost 2 to 65 3/4.

Sabre

(TSG) - Get Stars Group Inc Report

gained 4 1/4, or 10.6%, to 44 3/8 and

Ariba

(ARBA)

popped 15 3/8, or 5.8%, to 279 7/8 after the companies said they formed a web-based marketplace for the travel industry.

SBC Communications

(SBC)

sailed up 3 5/8, or 9.6%, to 41 3/8 and

BellSouth

(BLS)

gained 2 7/8, or 6%, to 32 after

The Wall Street Journal

reported the two are in talks to merge their U.S. cellular-phone businesses to create a nearly national wireless provider.

Goldman Sachs

upgraded BellSouth to trading buy from market outperform.

Sirius Satellite

(SIRI) - Get Sirius XM Holdings, Inc. Report

gained 3 7/8, or 6.4%, to 64 7/8 after it said it is in a marketing and technology alliance with

ATX Tech

.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

Earnings estimates from First Call; new highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified. Earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.

)

Expedia

(EXPE) - Get Expedia Group, Inc. Report

lost 1, or 5%, to 19 after it said it will take a one-time reserve of $4 million to $6 million in the current quarter, which is related to fraudulent transactions on Expedia.com.

Fleetwood Enterprises

(FLE)

lost 1/4 to 15 3/16 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, a penny shy of the five-analyst estimate and down from the year-ago 59 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Andrx

(ADRX)

added 3 1/16 to 99 1/8 after its board approved a 2-for-1 stock split.

Art Technology

(ARTG)

popped 10 1/4, or 7.1%, to 154 3/4 after it approved a 2-for-1 stock split.

Dial

(DL) - Get China Distance Education Holdings Ltd. Report

climbed 9/16 to 14 15/16 after it set a share repurchasing program of up to $75 million.

Guardian Tech

(GRDN)

gained 1 1/4, or 17.5%, to 8 3/8 after it approved a 2-for-1 split.

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

lifted 8 1/2, or 14.3%, to 68 after it said it plans to spin off its

PBX

,

Systimax

structured cabling and LAN-based data businesses to shareholders, forming a separate company focusing on the enterprise networking market.

Lucent said the new company will start out with an $8 billion business and a customer list that includes more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies. Lucent's board, which has approved the spinoff, is expected to be done via a tax-free distribution of shares to Lucent's shareholders. Lucent anticipates the spinoff to be completed by the close of its fourth fiscal quarter of 2000, which ends Sept. 30. Donald Peterson, currently Lucent executive vice president and CFO, will become president and CEO of the new company. Henry Schacht, former Lucent chairman and a current member of the company's board, will become chairman of the new company. The new company will be named at a later date, Lucent said.

McLeodUSA

(MCLD)

inched up 7/8 to 88 7/8 after it approved a 3-for-1 stock split.

Network Peripherals

(NPIX)

popped 7, or 11.3%, to 68 13/16 after it said its 2.5 million-share offering was priced at $60.875 a share.

Semitool

(SMTL)

gained 5 3/8, or 12.8%, to 47 3/8 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Webb Interactive Services

(WEBB)

lost 1 7/8 to 57 3/4 after it said its board approved a 2-for-1 stock split.

Analyst actions

PaineWebber

cut

AMFM's

(AFM)

price target to 87 from 101. AMFM added 3, or 5.5%, to 64 1/8.

J.P. Morgan

initiated coverage of

AMB Property

(AMB)

with a buy rating. AMB Property was unchanged at 20 3/16.

Goldman Sachs

upped

Bell Atlantic

(BEL)

to trading buy from market performer. Bell Atlantic hopped 6, or 12.2%, to 54 15/16.

J.P. Morgan initiated coverage of

CenterPoint Properties Trust

(CNT)

with a market perform rating. Centerpoint declined 1/4 to 36 1/16.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

started

Chiron

(CHIR) - Get Global X MSCI China Real Estate ETF Report

at a buy and set a price target of 74. Chiron jumped 15, or 30%, to 65.

Alex. Brown raised

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Coca-Cola Company Report

to strong buy from market perform. Coca-Cola edged up 2 1/2, or 5.1%, to 51 1/8.

US Bancorp Piper Jaffrey

started coverage of

Conmed

(CNMD) - Get CONMED Corporation Report

as a buy with a price target of 35. Conmed added 1/8 to 27 5/8.

Alex. Brown started

Federated

undefined

at buy and set a target of 45. Federated retreated 3/8 to 36 5/16.

Lehman upgraded

First Union

undefined

to outperform from hold. First Union climbed 1 1/16 to 30 9/16.

J.P. Morgan initiated coverage of

First Industrial Realty Trust

(FR) - Get First Industrial Realty Trust, Inc. Report

with a long-term buy rating. First Industrial Realty Trust was unchanged at 26.

Credit Suisse First Boston

initiated coverage of

Genentech

(DNA)

with a strong buy rating. Genentech soared 20, or 10.3%, to 212 7/8.

Goldman Sachs started coverage of

Harcourt

(H) - Get Hyatt Hotels Corporation Class A Report

and

McGraw-Hill

(MHP)

as market performers. Harcourt tacked on 3/16 to 34 5/8 and McGraw-Hill slid 3/4 to 50 1/8.

Goldman upgraded

GTE

(GTE) - Get Gran Tierra Energy Inc. Report

to trading buy from market performer. GTE advanced 5 7/8, or 9.9%, to 64 7/8.

Alex. Brown started

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Report

and

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Nordstrom, Inc. Report

at market perform. J.C. Penney shed 1/4 to 15 1/2 and Nordstrom was unchanged at 21 5/16.

CSFB reinitiated coverage of

Liberate Technologies

(LBRT) - Get Liberty Oilfield Services Inc. Class A Report

with a buy rating. Liberate Technologies shot up 12 5/8, or 12.3%, to 114 1/2.

DB Alex. Brown initiated coverage of

May Department Stores

(MAY)

with a buy rating and set a price target of 35 on the stock. May Department Stores lifted 1/4 to 26 7/16.

Salomon Smith Barney

raised its price target on

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

to 140 from 110 and

Lehman Brothers'

(LEH)

target to 105 from 85. Merrill Lynch mounted 2 1/2 to 105 and Lehman Brothers bounced 7 9/16, or 10.4%, to 80 1/16.

Salomon raised

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's

(MWD)

target to 77 from 73 and

PaineWebber's

(PWJ)

target to 60 from 55. Morgan Stanley moved up 4 13/16, or 6.8%, to 75 1/4 and PaineWebber gained 1 5/8 to 39 3/4.

Lehman Brothers

named

Noble Affiliates

(NBL) - Get Noble Energy, Inc. Report

and

Union Pacific Resources

undefined

as buys. Noble Affiliates mounted 1 1/4, or 5.5%, to 23 3/4 and Union Pacific Resources tacked on 3/4 , or 8.3%, to 9 11/16.

PaineWebber raised

Pacific Sunwear's

(PSUN)

2000 earnings estimates to $1.40 from $1.32. Pacific Sunwear fell 1 3/32 to 24 11/32.

Alex. Brown started coverage of

Sears

(S) - Get SentinelOne, Inc. Class A Report

as a market perform. Sears advanced 1/16 to 27 5/8.

Warburg Dillon Read started coverage of

Sequenom

(SQNM)

as a buy and set a price target of 160. Sequenom lost 1 25/32 to 123 7/32.

Alex. Brown raised

Smurfit-Stone

(SSCC)

to strong buy from buy. Smurfit-Stone bounced 1 7/16, or 10.5%, to 15 1/16.

CSFB initiated coverage of

Spartech

(SEH)

with a buy rating. Spartech gained 1 3/8, or 5.3%, to 26 7/8.

Merrill Lynch named

Viacom

(VIA) - Get Via Renewables, Inc. Class A Report

a focus one stock and said its 12-month price target is 75. Viacom added 7/8 to 56 1/4.

Miscellany

Dutch insurer

Aegon

(AEG) - Get AEGON NV Report

gained 1 3/8 to 71 after it said it would divest the noncore, noninsurance activities of its U.S.

Transamerica

unit.

FedEx

(FDX) - Get FedEx Corporation Report

declined 1/2 to 34 7/16 after it said it would add a 1% fuel surcharge effective April 1.

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

and Britain's

Cable & Wireless

(CWZ)

have settled their dispute stemming from Cable & Wireless' acquisition of former

MCI Communication's

Internet business at the time of the MCI and WorldCom merger in 1998. MCI WorldCom will pay Cable & Wireless $200 million, and Cable & Wireless has agreed to withdraw all litigation and regulatory complaints related to the transaction. MCI WorldCom said the settlement won't impact its earnings. MCI WorldCom gained 1 1/8 to 45 3/4 and Cable & Wireless jumped 4 9/16, or 5.2%, to 91 1/16.

SmithKline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. Report

has obtained a new U.S. patent on its antibiotic

Augmentin

.

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

and SmithKline announced in January they plan to merge. SmithKline Beecham gained 2 1/8 to 57 15/16 and Glaxo Wellcome bounced 2 7/16, or 5%, to 50 7/16.

Sotheby's

(BID) - Get Sotheby's Report

and

Christie's International

are in talks with plaintiffs' lawyers that could result in the quick settlement of dozens of civil antitrust lawsuits. In addition, Sotheby's announced a new pricing structure, revising its rates to make them nearly identical to Christie's, which changed rates three weeks ago. Sotheby's lifted 3 3/8, or 17.1%, to 23 1/16.

United Bancshares

(UBSI) - Get United Bankshares, Inc. Report

slipped 1/8 to 18 3/16 after it said it has tapped Kendal Carson as its president and CEO.

As part of its cost-cutting plan,

Weyerhaeuser

(WY) - Get Weyerhaeuser Company Report

said it is closing four packaging plants. Weyerhaeuser added 2 1/8 to 53 7/16.