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Company Report: Bank of Scotland Ups NatWest Offer and Scores on an Audible

Bank of Scotland said it was raising its offer for National Westminster Bank (NW) , adding extra cash of 246 pence per share. The move comes after the Royal Bank of Scotland raised its offer for NatWest increasing the cash element of its bid and putting pressure on Bank of Scotland to respond.

NatWest responded to the revised offer by calling it a "bit of damp squib" and saying it was still risky. Apparently undeterred by the cutting remark, Royal Bank of Scotland said it expected NatWest to recommend its takeover bid if a Feb. 14 vote on its offer is split and Royal Bank has the highest proportion of votes. Shares of NatWest jumped 8 1/4, or 7.5%, to 118 1/4.

Despite delivering better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings,


(UPS) - Get United Parcel Service, Inc. Class B Report

shares declined in afternoon trading sliding 5, or 7.7%, to 59 15/16. For more on the company's earnings results, check out the's

coverage below.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

AIT Group

has agreed to provide an e-commerce infrastructure to

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report

that will allow GE customers to access their accounts and carry out financial transactions via the Internet. AIT and

GE Equity Investments

signed a three-year option agreement under which AIT will transfer up to 608,800 shares, or just under 3% of current shares, to GE company. Shares of GE fell 3/8 to 133 5/8.

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TheStreet Recommends

(AMZN) - Get, Inc. Report

added 2 7/8 to 64 9/16 after it said it will buy 5% of



in a deal valued at $18.3 million. Audible climbed 1 1/16, or 7.4%, to 15 1/2.

America Online






American Airlines

said they would offer AOL AAdvantage, a combined rewards program. Shares of AOL lost 1 7/8 to 57, while AMR lost 1/16 to 53 13/16.

The three-year deal combines the airline's miles program with AOL's Reward program and calls for the companies to launch a multi-million dollar, cross-marketing campaign to their members. AOL will take a stake in



, which will create and operate the infrastructure for the new plan. Shares of Netcentives climbed 6 1/8, or 9.9%, to 68 1/4.

El Paso Energy


gained 1 to 32 1/4 after it said it agreed to buy the natural gas and natural gas liquids businesses owned by


(PCG) - Get PG&E Corporation Report

for $840 million, including $561 million in debt. Shares of PG&E rose 13/16 to 21 15/16.



gained 7 11/16, or 12.8%, to 67 7/8 after it said it signed a three-year contract to use

Sycamore Networks'


products. Sycamore jumped 9 1/8 to 319.

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

is close to a deal with


(TM) - Get Toyota Motor Corp. Report

to offer GM's Onstar in-car communications system in Toyotas sold in the U.S.,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. Shares of GM gained 1 9/16 to 80 9/16 while Toyota tacked on 1 1/4 to 87 1/4.


Investor AB

, the investment arm of Sweden's Wallberg family, said GM is paying $125 million to exercise its option to buy the group's 50% stake of Swedish auto group

Saab Automobile


British palm-top computer group


said it signed an agreement with



to co-develop a range of mobile Internet access devices. Motorola jumped 8 1/4, or 6.4%, to 136 1/2.

Vodafone AirTouch's

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campaign to win over the hearts of



shareholders escalated another notch, as the British-U.S. phone operator announced a joint venture with France's



. Vodafone climbed 1 3/9 to 56.

The two plan to create a European Web portal that would rival




AOL Europe

, a joint venture between America Online and


. They will also look at joining to form a pan-European telephone network.

But the alliance is contingent upon Vodafone winning control of Mannesmann, Germany's leading wireless company, which has repeatedly spurned Vodafone's advances.

Mannesmann brass remained opposed to Vodafone's $170 billion hostile takeover bid Sunday; investors have until Feb. 7 to decide. According to

The Wall Street Journal

, the move comes as Vodafone AirTouch and Mannesman have held stepped-up talks, although the two companies remain far apart on issues such as price. The report cited people familiar with the situation.

AOL Europe is in negotiations with several mobile phone operators on cooperation in the Internet, an AOL Europe spokesman said, according to



Terra Nova

(TNA) - Get Direxion Daily Small Cap Bull 3x Shares Report

gained 1 9/16, or 7.4%, to 22 9/16 after it agreed to be bought by


(MKL) - Get Markel Corporation Report

for $680 million. Markel climbed 9, or 5.8%, to 164.

The companies said the deal was trimmed down 25% the its initial $905 million offer after concerns surfaced over Terra Nova's expected fourth-quarter earnings losses and Markel's stock price decline.

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.


Century Business


slid 3 5/32, or 45.9%, to 3 23/32 after it warned its fourth-quarter results are expected to fall short of expectations as a result of a focus on strategic alternatives that it is ending. The company expects to report results between a profit of 2 cents a share and a loss of 2 cents a share, below the five-analyst estimate of earnings of 13 cents a share.

Merrill Lynch

cut its rating on Century Business to near-term neutral from buy.


(DLX) - Get Deluxe Corporation Report

inched up 9/16 to 26 3/4 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of 79 cents a share, ahead of the five-analyst forecast of 74 cents and the year-ago 71 cents. Deluxe confirmed it will separate its e-commerce and technology services businesses into a new company. A minority stake in the new company, to be called


, will be sold to the public through an IPO.

W.W. Grainger

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slipped 3/16 to 47 15/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 30 cents a share, in line with the 11-analyst estimate but down from the year-ago 69 cents.

Medical Manager


moved down 6 3/8, or 8.3%, to 70 3/16 after it reported second-quarter earnings of 2 cents a share, a penny better than the six-analyst forecast, but down from the year-ago earnings of 16 cents a share.



fell 2 7/16, or 10.9%, to 19 15/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 31 cents a share, a penny better than the 16-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 15 cents.

Millenium Chemicals


slipped 1/8 to 18 1/4 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of 39 cents a share, beating the 12-analyst estimate of 24 cents and the year-ago 13 cents.

Triad Hospitals


lost 1/16 after it said it will take a fourth-quarter charge due to its decision to close its medical center in Roseburg, Oregon.

Union Carbide


climbed 1 5/16 to 55 5/8 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of 68 cents a share, blowing past the 11-analyst estimate of 46 cents and the year-ago 49 cents, which included a gain of 31 cents. The company attributed the increase in its earnings to continuing high volumes, improved pricing at its basic chemicals and polymers unit and strengthening performance by its



Polimeri Europa



(UPS) - Get United Parcel Service, Inc. Class B Report

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 56 cents a share, a penny better than the 14-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 43 cents.

Offerings and stock actions


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bounced 1 1/2, or 9.6%, to 17 after it approved the repurchase of up to $20 million in common shares and notes.


(GEN) - Get Genesis Healthcare Inc Class A Report

skidded 9/16 to 14 15/16 after it said it added 2.5 million shares to its current share-repurchasing program.

(INSP) - Get Inspire Medical Systems, Inc. Report

sank 11 9/16, or 7.6%, to 140 1/8 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Sara Lee


added 1/4 to 18 7/16 after it said it completed a $3 billion stock repurchase program five months ahead of schedule and authorized the repurchase of up to an additional 50 million shares.

Thermo Electron

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gained 1 1/16, or 6.5%, to 17 5/16 after it said it has decided to split the company into three publicly traded businesses and spin off two of them to its shareholders.

Analyst actions

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

upped its rating on


(AT) - Get Atlantic Power Corporation Report

to strong buy from buy. Shares of Alltel lifted 2 3/4 to 66 3/4.

Alex. Brown cut its rating on

Aviation Sales


to market perform from strong buy. Shares of Aviation Sales declined 1 3/16, or 12.1%, to 8 9/16.

Alex. Brown raised its rating on


(CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report

to strong buy from buy. Shares of Carnival popped 9/16 to 45 1/16.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

lifted its rating on


(CLS) - Get Celestica Inc. Report

to strong buy from outperform. Shares of Celestica climbed 19/32 to 40 3/16.

Brown Brothers Harriman


Cooper Industries


to its focus list. Shares of Cooper Industries advanced 9/16 to 38 3/8.

Salomon Smith Barney

upped its rating on

Credence Systems


to buy from outperform. Shares of Credence stumbled 5/8 to 84 7/8.

J.P. Morgan

sliced its rating on



to long-term buy from a buy rating. Dana declined 1 1/16 to 23 1/2.

Warburg Dillon Read

raised its rating on



to buy from hold .

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

lifted its rating on the stock to outperform from neutral, while

Credit Suisse First Boston

upped its price target and reiterated a strong buy rating.

Lehman Brothers

increased its earnings estimates for 2000. Shares of Ericsson mounted 4 7/16, or 6.3%, to 74 9/16.

First Boston added


(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

to its focus list and reiterated a strong buy rating. Shares of Intel climbed 4 7/8, or 5.1%, to 98 15./16.

Goldman Sachs



(MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report

to its recommended list from market perform. Shares of McDonald's edged up 7/16 to 37 3/16.

Merrill Lynch

upped its rating on



to near-term accumulate from near-term neutral. Shares of Mead lost 1/8 to 37 1/4.

Lehman Brothers upgraded



to buy from outperform. Shares of Praxair skidded 1/16 to 40 3/4.

Banc of America Securities

raised its price target on



to 85 from 50, while reiterating its strong buy rating, Shares of Sawtek lifted 1 9/16 to 63 1/4.

Deutsche Banc started coverage of

SBA Communications

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with a buy rating. Shares of SBA Communications were unchanged at 30 5/16.

Banc of America upped


(SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report

to buy from market performer. Shares of Starbucks hopped 2 1/8, or 7.1%, to 32.

Merrill upgraded

StarMedia Network

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to near-term buy from accumulate. StarMedia Networks shot up 1 3/4, or 5.7%, to 32 1/8.

SG Cowen

increased its rating on



to buy from neutral and set a 12-month price target of 60. Shares of 3Com tacked on 4 1/8, or 8.8%, to 50 3/4.

Deutsche Banc lowered its rating on



to buy from strong buy. Shares of Xeikon stumbled 1 5/16, or 7.8%, to 15 7/16.


Baker Hughes


said CEO, chairman and president Max Lukens has resigned. The company named Joe Foster, chairman of

Newfield Exploration


, as an interim CEO, chairman and president.

Goldman Sachs

upped Baker Hughes to market outperform from market perform.

Meanwhile Newfield announced that Foster resigned to take the post at Baker Hughes and said it named David Trice as CEO effective Feb. 1. Shares of Baker Hughes mounted 3 7/8, or 18.6%, to 24 11/16.



said it has launched an Internet advertising service -- Solar Network -- that targets lower volume Web sites. Solar Network focuses on Web sites that have a minimum of 100,000 advertising impressions a month, unlike its current service which concentrates on sites with 1 million impressions per month. The company said 87 sites have linked up with the network, including

Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine


3D Stock Charts

. Shares of DoubleClick slipped 1 13/16 to 98 13/16.

The Heard on the Street column in

The Wall Street Journal

said shares of

Honeywell International

(HON) - Get Honeywell International Inc. Report

may be poised for a rebound later this year. The stock has fallen about 25% since Dec. 2, the first day shares of the newly merged Honeywell and


began trading. But if Honeywell can get past some weak numbers in its fourth-quarter earnings report, among other things, say some observers, the stocks could climb as high as 92 in 2001. Shares of Honeywell bounced 2 13/16, or 6.2%, to 48.

Micro Warehouse


said it named Jerome York as president, CEO and chairman.

Bridgeport Holdings

has taken control of Micro, the companies said. In December, Micro Warehouse said it would be acquired for $725 million by an investor group led by York, a former


(IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report

executive. Shares of Micro Warehouse lifted 13/16 to 19.

Waste Management


said it will sell its Finland operations for $100 million. Waste Management shares slid 3/16 to 17 1/2.