Company Report: IPC Communications Explodes on Merger News, Aurora Foods Spoils After Downgrade

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Global Crossing (GBLX) fell 3 3/4, or 7.1%, to 48 5/8 after it said it has entered a $3.8 billion stock deal to acquire IXnet and its parent company IPC Communications (IPI) - Get Report. Global Crossing said it expects to complete the acquisition in the second quarter. IPC Communications shot up 104 1/4, or 74.4%, to 244 1/4.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

downgraded

Aurora Foods

(AOR) - Get Report

-- manufacturer of Duncan Hines cake mixes and Mrs. Butterworth's syrup -- to market perform from buy.

Last week, four of the company's top executives resigned after questions about accounting practices and the assessment of a special charge that could completely erase all of its 1999 earnings. Aurora today sank 3 15/16, or 53.8%, to 3 3/8.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

popped 3 1/4 to 88 after it said it plans to sell its cable television units in five national regions by the end of March. The company also said today that it would sell 55% of its

North Rhine-Westphalia

cable network to U.S.-based

Callahan Associates

.

Dow Jones

(DJ)

and

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

said they have agreed to a venture involving Excite@Home's B2B Web site. The venture calls for Dow Jones to contribute news and other features from its Web site to Excite@Home's

Work.com

. The companies said they would set IPO plans for a minority of the venture in 2000. Dow Jones lifted 5/8 to 62 9/16 and Excite@Home edged up 1/8 to 34 3/16.

InfoCure

(INCX)

slipped 5 3/8, or 24%, to 17 after it said it would establish a dental software and service division and hold an IPO for the business.

PracticeWorks.com

will concentrate on e-commerce and have a base of roughly 25,000 doctors.

Liberty Media

(LMG.A)

agreed to buy, in a private placement, 7.125 million class B nonvoting shares of Canadian media company

Corus Entertainment

, representing a 19.9% stake in Corus.

Separately, Liberty Media said today that it has entered a cash deal to acquire

Ascent Entertainment

(GOAL)

for $460 million. Liberty Media declined 5/8 to 50 and Ascent climbed 4 11/16, or 46.3%, to 14 13/16.

The

European Commission

has decided to open a full investigation into the proposed get-together between

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

and

Sprint

(FON)

. The commission "has raised serious doubts as to the compatibility of the proposed merger between MCI WorldCom and Sprint mainly because of its impact on competition in the market for top level Internet connectivity." The commission said it expects to make a final decision by early July. MCI WorldCom tacked on 1 to 47 1/8 and Sprint lost 1/2 to 62 3/4.

MedicaLogic

(MDLI)

shed 6 11/16, or 13.1%, to 44 after it said it has entered stock deals to buy

Medscape

(MSCP)

and

Total eMed

that carry a combined value of $1.28 billion. Medscape lifted 1 1/8, or 9.4%, to 13.

Motorola

(MOT)

is buying

C-Port

for $430 million in stock. Motorola popped 11 13/16, or 8.1%, to 156 3/4.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

advanced 3/4 to 59 5/16 after it announced a strategic pact with

Novistar

to develop and deliver e-business products and services to the energy industry.

Separately, Oracle launched a new division that will focus on providing access to the Web through wireless product such as cell phones. Oracle would allied with Motorola to develop its fully-owned subsidiary,

OracleMobile.com

, which according to its CEO Larry Ellison, would be brought public "as soon as possible."

Reliant Energy

(REI) - Get Report

of Houston is buying 21 power plants from

Sithe Energies

for $2.1 billion. Sixteen of the facilities are located in Pennsylvania, four in New Jersey and one in Maryland. Sithe is 60% owned by

Vivendi

of France. Reliant was unchanged at 21 3/16.

Sprint

(FON)

skidded 1/2 to 62 3/4 after it said it bought an additional 2.73 million shares of

EarthLink

(ELNK)

, an Internet service provider, for a total of $77 million, bringing its overall stake in EarthLink to 14.6%. EarthLink gained 1 15/16, or 9.7%, to 21 3/4.

SBC Communications

(SBC)

is buying e-business solutions company

Sterling Commerce

(SE) - Get Report

for $44.25 a share, or $3.9 billion in cash, in an effort to establish itself in the business-to-business e-commerce market. SBC Communications skidded 2 1/4, or 5.8%, to 36 and Sterling Commerce hopped 12, or 38%, to 43 9/16.

Stora Enso

, the Finnish-Swedish forestry titan, is buying

Consolidated Papers

(CDP)

for $4 billion. The companies said the combined entity will be the largest producer of paper and board by capacity world-wide, with total 1999 sales of $13.2 billion. The acquisition values the shares of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.-based Consolidated Papers at $44 a share. Consolidated Papers bounced 10, or 38.4%, to 36.

U.K.-based tour operator

Airtours

is buying

Travel Services International

(TRVL)

for $26 a share in cash, or $385 million. Travel Services added on 7 3/4, or 43.6%, to 25 1/2.

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.

)

Computer Horizons

(CHRZ)

declined 7/8, or 5.4%, to 15 3/16 after it reported a fourth-quarter loss of three cents a share, wider than the four-analyst estimate and the year ago 42-cent profit.

Dollar General

(DG) - Get Report

lifted 1 1/4, or 6.8%, to 19 9/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 34 cents a share, a penny better than the 12-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 29 cents a share.

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

mounted 2 1/2 to 54 3/16 after it said it expects a double-digit increase in earnings after directing its focus on biotech. Chairman and CEO Charles Holiday Jr. said during analyst and investor meeting that the company sees a 6% increase in revenues.

Foundation Health

(FHS)

edged up 1/8 to 8 3/4 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 31 cents a share, a penny better than the 14-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago loss of 85 cents.

Friede Goldman Halter

(FGH)

shed 3/16 to 5 11/16 after it warned investors that it would post a fourth-quarter loss between $1.10 to $1.16 a share, missing the two-analyst estimate of an 8-cent loss.

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

popped 1/8 to 53 7/8 after it said same-store sales increased 9%.

Limited

(LTD)

tacked on 13/16 to 31 7/16 after it posted fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.31 a share, well ahead of the 22-analyst estimate of $1.18 and up from the year-ago 92 cents. The company's board also authorized a $200 million share repurchase program.

PSINet

(PSIX)

sank 7 1/16, or 15.4%, to 38 3/4 after it posted a fourth-quarter loss of 99 cents a share, narrower than the 16-analyst estimate of a $1.01 loss but wider than the year-ago 51-cent loss.

Sonic Automotive

(SAH) - Get Report

tacked on 7/16 to 9 9/16 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, beating the six-analyst estimate of 31 cents and up from the year-ago 24 cents.

Southwest Gas

(SWX) - Get Report

skidded 5/8 to 17 1/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 93 cents a share, beating the three-analyst estimate of 95 cents and up from the year-ago 82 cents.

Spartech

(SEH)

declined 5/16 to 25 1/16 after it reported first-quarter earnings of 39 cents a share, edging out the four-analyst estimate of 37 cents and up from the year-ago 32 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

BF Goodrich

(GR)

lifted 5/8 to 23 5/16 after it announced a $300 million share repurchasing plan.

CTC Communications

(CPTL)

was unchanged at 58 1/2 after it set a 3-for-2 stock split.

Cysive

(CYSV)

plummeted 14, or 12.6%, to 97 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Enzon

(ENZN)

hopped 3 1/2, or 6.8%, to 54 7/8 after it set plans for a 2 million-share secondary offering.

Globecomm

(GCOM)

shot up 5 1/2, or 20.2%, to 32 5/8 after it set a 2 million-share secondary offering. Separately, its majority-owned unit

NetSat Express

announced its plans for an IPO earlier today.

Nextel Communications

(NXTL)

shot 12 5/16, or 10.3%, to 131 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split. Nextel posted a fourth-quarter loss of 85 cents share, narrower than both the 18-analyst estimate of a 97-cent loss and the year-ago $1.43 loss.

Scientific-Atlanta

(SFA)

advanced 5 11/16, or 5.4%, to 109 1/4 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Analyst actions

Warburg

upgraded

Alza

(AZA)

to strong buy from buy. Alza lifted 1 3/16 to 37 3/8.

Merrill Lynch rolled out coverage of

Amdocs

(DOX) - Get Report

, a billing and order management company, as an intermediate, long-term buy. Amdocs fell 2 3/8 to 64 5/8.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

downgraded the ratings of

Felcor Lodging

(FCH)

,

Meristar Hospitality

(MHX)

and

Wyndham International

(WYN)

to market perform from buy. Felcor Lodging shed 1/2 to 17 1/2, Meristar Hospitality edged up 5/16 to 15 7/8 and Wyndham was unchanged at 2 3/8.

SG Cowen

rolled out coverage of

Healthgate Data

(HGAT)

with a strong buy rating and a price target of 18. Healthgate Data was unchanged at 11.

DLJ launched coverage on

John Hancock Financial

(JHF)

with a strong buy rating.

Goldman Sachs

initiated coverage with a market outperform rating. John Hancock added 1/2 to 16.

Banc of America

upped its rating on

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. Lowe's declined 7/16 to 43 1/16.

DLJ upgraded

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

to buy from market perform. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter hopped 1 1/16 to 62 5/16.

Merrill Lynch started coverage of

Neoforma.com

(NEOF)

with an intermediate-term accumulate, long-term buy rating.

Bear Stearns

initiated coverage of the company with an attractive rating and a 38 price target. Neoforma.com plummeted 16 3/8, or 23.6%, to 52 3/4.

Merrill Lynch upped its intermediate-term rating on

Phelps Dodge

(PD) - Get Report

to buy from accumulate. Phelps Dodge gained 13/16 to 52 1/8.

Credit Suisse First Boston

initiated coverage of

724 Solutions

(SVNX)

as a strong buy. 724 Solutions shed 5 9/16 to 128 15/16.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown upgraded

SBA Communications

(SBAC) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. SBA Communications popped 2 3/8, or 8.5%, to 30 1/8.

Warburg Dillon Read

raised its rating on

Unilever

(UL) - Get Report

to strong buy from hold. Unilever climbed 1 to 25 3/4. Unilever announced a huge restructuring plan, including cutting 25,000 jobs. The consumer products giant posted 1999 net profits that were down 5% from 1998.

CSFB initiated coverage of

Watchguard

(WGRD)

as a strong buy and set a 12-month price target of 90. Watchguard shot up 9 1/2, or 15.7%, to 70.

Miscellany

Some oil ministers are likely to signal for an increase in output this week, reported

The Wall Street Journal

. According to the

Journal

,

OPEC

members have not reached an agreement on the timing or amount.

Hercules

(HPC)

and

Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Partners II

said they're establishing a new business in the food gums industry. The company will include the Hercules Food Gums division along with the

Kelco

bio-gums unit which they will buy from

Monsanto

(MTC) - Get Report

for $685 million. Lehman Brothers' partnerships will own 72% of the new business, while Hercules will own 28% and have responsibility for managing the business.

Separately, Hercules said it plans to sell its resins unit. Hercules said "it has entered formal discussions with an unidentified major company" to buy the division. Hercules said the resins business accounts for $450 million in annual sales and employs about 1500. Hercules added on 11/16 to 17 15/16.

Attorneys in the

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

antitrust case are slated to give their closing arguments today in Washington. The

New York Times

on Monday reported that the odds were against a settlement, citing people close to the talks. Microsoft declined 1 1/4 to 93 13/16.

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

introduced today what it said are the world's fastest and lowest-power digital signal processors. Texas Instruments said the new programmable DSPs will "push the Internet-era communications infrastructure to higher levels." Texas Instruments advanced 15, or 11.1%, to 149.