This morning, investment firm
said it remained optimistic on the prospects for the leading Internet companies during 2000, but said that, given the sector's volatility, an Internet stock pullback in the first quarter is likely, especially in the business-to-consumer, or B2C, sector. Merrill said it favored investments in business-to-business, or B2B, Internet infrastructure shares.
Merrill also said it sees good performances in the following Internet stocks:
Internet Capital Group
America Online bounced 6 15/16, or 9.1%, to 82 13/16 and CMGI soared 49 5/8, or 17.9%, to 326 5/8, while Yahoo leaped 42 3/16, or 9.7%, to 475. Homestore.com slid 1/8 to 74 and Exodus edged up 7 1/8, or 8%, to 96, while InfoSpace.com skidded 1 3/16 to 212 3/4. Shares of Internet Capital Group advanced 30 3/8, or 17.9%, to 200.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
Beringer Wine Estates
fell 1 3/4 to 37 15/16 after it said it has entered a $40 million deal to sell its
brand and inventory to
. Beringer said it would assume a third-quarter, onetime gain in the mid-$20 million range as a result of the sale.
Delta & Pine Land
slipped 1/4 to 17 1/8 after it said
paid an $81 million termination fee to end its merger plans with Delta & Pine Land and also removed a restriction which prevented Delta from seeking any other suitors. Monsanto, which closed down 5/16 to 35 1/8, withdrew its regulatory filing for the $1.9 billion merger last month due to review delays and demands by the
Separately, Monsanto has recently entered a deal to merge with
Pharmacia & Upjohn
. Shares of Pharmacia fell 15/16 to 44 1/16.
inched up 3/16 to 33 9/16 after it said it will buy the Appalachian production assets of
in a deal valued at about $630 million. Equitable said it expects to complete the deal in the first quarter.
upped its rating on Equitable Resources to attractive from neutral.
fell 5/8 to 7 9/16 after it said it will sell
PCA Property & Casualty Insurance
, a subsidiary of Bermuda-based
White Mountains Insurance Group
for $125 million in cash. White Mountains fell 3 to 117 1/2. Humana said it was likely to take a $400 million to $500 million charge in the fourth quarter related to goodwill.
For additional coverage of the
story, check out the additional coverage from the
Kansas City Power & Light
inched up 3/8 to 22 7/16 after saying it has terminated its merger deal with
. Western Resources lost 7/16 to 16 1/2.
KCPL cited problems at Western's
subsidiary and its impact on Western as a whole as a big factor in Kansas City Power's decision.
"These problems and the related dramatic decline in Western's stock price since we signed the merger agreement in March 1998 obviously have a direct bearing on the value of the contemplated transaction to our shareholders, as well as the future prospects of Western and its affiliated companies assuming such transaction was consummated," wrote A. Drue Jennings, KCPL's CEO, in a letter to Western's CEO David Wittig.
KCPL pointed out that Western's stock closed at 43.13 on March 18, 1998, the date of the merger pact, and closed at 16.94 Friday. KCPL said over the next few weeks "it will review strategic alternatives available," including separating its generation and distribution/transmission assets into subsidiaries.
contributing editor Christopher Edmonds wrote about the proposed
merger in a column. Also check out additional
coverage today from the
is looking at a merger with aero-engine rival
Pratt & Whitney
, a division of
of London reported. UTX fell 2 1/2 to 62 1/2.
could launch a takeover bid for
as early as this week, the
U.S. handgun maker
Smith & Wesson
denied a British newspaper report that it is being put up for sale by its parent company, British conglomerate
. Shares of Tomkins rose 3/16 to 14 7/8.
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.
added 1 3/8 to 93 1/2 after it said it sees a sharp jump in fourth-quarter revenue to a range of $38.5 million to $40 million, compared with $5.6 million in the year-ago period. The company said it would add 12 new markets to its original business plan, making the company operational in 27 markets by the end of the year, and 36 markets by the end of 2001.
For additional coverage of the company's planned
expansion, check out a separate story from the
ran up 13, or 30.8%, to 55 5/16 after it said it estimates revenue for the fourth quarter will exceed $4.9 million, compared with the year-ago $1.8 million, and said it expects to post a profit for the first time. The three-analyst estimate called for the company to break even in the quarter.
fell 11/16 to 28 9/16 after it reported first-quarter earnings of 13 cents a share, in line with the 17-analyst estimate and up from 10 cents a year ago. The share data were adjusted to reflect a 2-for-1 stock split paid on Feb. 12, 1999. Walgreen said it plans to open 450 new stores in fiscal 2000. The company said same-store prescriptions rose 20.7% in the first quarter.
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
added a number of stocks to its focus list, including America Online,
Apple's shares popped 9 1/8, or 8.8%, to 11 15/16 and Costco slipped 2 3/16 to 89, while Comcast shed 1 1/16 to 46 3/4. EMC climbed 5 1/2, or 5%, to 114 3/4 and Infinity Broadcasting lost 1 9/16 to 34 5/8, while Wells Fargo declined 1 5/16 to 39 1/8.
DLJ also raised its rating on a number of health care companies, including
Health Management Associates
Health Management gained 1 1/8, or 8.1%, to 14 1/2 after it went to top pick from buy.
Triad Hospitals climbed 11/16 to 15 3/8 after it moved up to buy from market perform.
Province Healthcare rose 2, or 10.5%, to 21 after it went to buy from market perform.
Salomon Smith Barney
started coverage of
at speculative buy and set a price target of 80.
Hambrecht & Quist
also started coverage with a buy rating and set a price target of 75. Shares of Agency.com edged up 9/16 to 52.
Merrill Lynch raised its price target on
to 100. Shares of Best Buy climbed 6 5/8, or 13.1%, to 56 7/8.
with a buy rating and set a 12-month price target of 47. Shares of Dynegy fell 7/16 to 23 7/8.
Salomon Smith Barney raised its price target on
to 60 from 41.50 a share. Shares of Flextronics declined 3/4 to 45 1/4.
Credit Suisse First Boston
analyst Gary Yablon upgraded
to strong buy from buy. Shares of Landstar Systems stumbled 2 to 39 15/16.
Martha Stewart Omnimedia
to buy from attractive. Shares of Martha Stewart mounted 3 1/8, or 13%, to 27 1/8.
Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown
upped its rating on
to strong buy from market perform. Shares of Mississippi Chemical climbed 3 9/16, or 57.5%, to 9 3/4.
Salomon Smith Barney upped it price target on
to 200. Shares of Motorola added 1 3/4 to 149.
to its highlight list. Shares of Oracle shot up 6 1/8, or 5.4%, to 118 1/8 and Hughes Electronics lifted 6, or 6.2%, to 102.
CSFB analyst Phillip Pace upgraded
to buy from hold. Shares of Pogo Producing fell 7/8 to 19 1/2.
rolled out coverage of
with a buy rating.
started Preview with a strong buy and set a price target of 100. Shares of Preview Systems tacked on 5 1/4, or 8.2%, to 68.
Alex. Brown upped its rating on
to market perform from underperform. Shares of Sprint PCS skidded 2 to 100 1/2.
Alex. Brown raised its rating on
to strong buy from market perform. Shares of Terra bounced 2 1/16, or 132%, to 3 5/8.
CSFB analyst Dennis Rosenberg downgraded
to buy from strong buy and sliced its 12-month price target to 32 from 45. Shares of Tommy Hilfiger dwindled 2 5/8, or 11.2%, to 20 3/4.
rolled out coverage of
with an outperform rating. Shares of VA Linux lost 14 5/8, or 7%, to 192.
Warburg Dillon Read
upped its rating on
to buy from hold. Shares of Virata gained 2 1/4, or 7.5%, to 32 1/4.
Alex. Brown cut
to buy from strong buy. Shares of Voicestream slumped 15 5/16, or 10.7%, to 126 5/8.
Internet market research firm
said e-commerce traffic rose 27% for the week ended Dec. 26 over the year-ago period. Media Metrix also unveiled the top 25 e-commerce sites for the five-week holiday shopping season, with the list topped by
. Following Amazon was
. Shares of Amazon.com advanced 13 1/4, or 17.4%, to 89 3/8; eBay was up 15 15/16, or 12.7%, to 141 1/4 and eToys slid 1 3/16 to 25 1/8.
Separately, America Online said holiday shopping sales doubled in 1999, to $2.5 billion. According to
, AOL grabbed more than 60% of the $4 billion spent by online shoppers during Thanksgiving to Christmas.
For additional coverage of AOL's
happy holidays, check out a separate story from the
declined 15/16 to 46 7/8 after it has exercised an option to order a new cruise vessel worth about $375.5 million from a Finnish yard owned by engineering group
. The new vessel, expected to be delivered in 2002, would be the 11th cruise vessel built by Kvaerner for Carnival.
stumbled 1 5/16, or 7%, to 17 7/16 after it said it promoted Steve Nussrallah to president and CEO.
fell 1 7/8, or 5.2%, to 34 after it said James Earnshaw resigned as president and CEO on Dec. 31 to pursue other interests.
Graco said its board appointed former CEO and recently retired vice chairman George Aristedes as interim president and CEO while a permanent successor is sought.
Tangram Enterprise Solutions
popped 3, or 38.7%, to 11 1/4 after it said its CEO and chairman Chris Jesse resigned effective today and that the company would weigh its strategic options with stakeholder
. Jesse will be replaced by Norman Phelps, the former CEO of National Liberty. Shares of Safeguard gained 26 5/8, or 16.3%, to 189 5/8.
tacked on 3/16 to 14 3/16 after it said directors elected Richard White as CEO effective Jan. 24. White succeeds David Robson, current chairman and CEO who will become executive chairman of the board.
The Heard on the Street column in
The Wall Street Journal
took a look at
new ad campaign, the brokerage firm's effort to spice up its image. The firm is phasing in a series of spots on TV featuring real-life clients talking about how they've done well financially because of their relationship with their broker at Merrill and also another series of ads promoting the company's corporate icon, the column said. Shares of Merrill sank 2 11/16 to 80 5/8.