Financial stocks caught fire today with the Philadelphia Stock Exchange KBW Bank Index posting a 9.2% gain. American Express (AXP) - Get Report jumped 10 7/8, or 8.2%, to 143 3/4, while Citigroup (C) - Get Report pocketed 4 3/4, or 9.1%, to 57.

On a day when many stocks moved sharply higher, IPO

ImproveNet

(IMPV) - Get Report

stuck out like a sore thumb. Shares slid 1 7/8, or 11.7%, to 14 1/8 from the $16-per-share offering price.

Earlier in the session, shares hit a high of 20, but ended the day in need of a repair job. Lead underwriter

Credit Suisse First Boston

priced 2.76 million shares at the top of the $14-$16 range last night. The company is an online home improvement company based in Redwood City, California.

Phillips Petroleum

(P)

climbed 3 1/8, or 7.8%, to 43 1/8 after it agreed to buy

Atlantic Richfield's

(ARC) - Get Report

oil and gas assets in Alaska for $7 billion. Arco added 2 5/16 to 85 9/16.

The deal, which is set to close in the second quarter, calls for Phillips to retain all of Arco's workers in Alaska. Phillips said the acquisition would tack on $1.28 a share to its fiscal 2000 earnings. Before the announcement, the 24-analyst estimate expected the company to post earnings of $3.27 a share.

Phillips Petroleum was upgraded today to buy from market perform at

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

ABN Amro

(ABN)

gained 1 5/16, or 6.1%, to 22 13/16 after it said it would acquire a majority interest in Taiwan fund manager

Kwang Hua

from Taiwanese-based

Ruentex

and

Aetna

(AET)

, boosting its position to 88% from 6%. Before the sale, Aetna held a 20% stake in the firm. Aetna rose 2 5/8, or 5.2%, to 53 5/8..

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

climbed 3 3/64 to 131 43 64 after it said it is buying a couple of companies. Cisco is buying privately held

JetCell

, based in Menlo Park, Calif., a developer of standards-based, in-building wireless telephony solutions, for $200 million in stock.

Cisco is also buying

InfoGear Technology

, a privately held company, for $301 million in stock.

eGain

(EGAN) - Get Report

lost 3 7/8, or 7.5%, to 47 5/8 and

Inference

(INFR) - Get Report

dropped 2 5/16, or 22.6%, to 7 15/16 after the companies said they agreed to a $78.6 million merger. According to the terms, Inference shareholders would receive 0.1865 share of eGain for each share of Inference they hold. The deal is set to close within 90 days.

The

European Commission

cleared plans by

Emerson Electric

(EMR) - Get Report

to buy

Ericsson Energy Systems

, a unit of

Ericsson

(ERICY)

. Emerson climbed 2 7/16, or 5.6%, to 45 3/4 while Ericsson jumped 4 7/16 to 93 5/8.

Tommy Hilfiger's

(TOM)

talks with

Calvin Klein

about a combo of their businesses have apparently stalled over price,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

The newspaper, citing people close to the discussions, said that a pact between Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein was expected to be announced as early as last week; however, the two sides have been unable to agree on a price. A British newspaper, the

Sunday Telegraph

, reported Sunday that Tommy Hilfiger was believed to be in talks to buy all or part of Calvin Klein. Tommy Hilfiger tacked on 1 to 14 1/8, or 7.6%, to 14 1/8.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was unchanged at 95 3/8 after it announced the birth of

HomeAdvisor Technologies

, a new concern it says will slice weeks off the mortgage-closing process and save consumers more than $2,000 over the life of a loan by providing lower rates and reduced closing costs. Microsoft will hold a majority stake in the company.

Chase's

(CMB)

Chase.com

,

Chase Capital Partners

,

GMAC-RFC

,

Wells Fargo's

(WFC) - Get Report

Norwest Mortgage

and

Bank of America

will also be taking an equity interest in the venture.

Freddie Mac

has provided technology contributions and has a financial interest in the new company, Microsoft said. Chase climbed 7, or 8.4%, to 90 1/8; Wells Fargo added 2 1/2, or 6.9%, to 38 1/2 and Freddie Mac popped 4 13/16, or 11.3%, to 47 1/2.

National-Oilwell

(NOI)

gained 2 3/4, or 11.6%, to 26 1/2 after it said it is merging with

IRI International

(IIR)

. Under terms of the deal, IRI stockholders will receive 0.3385 share of National-Oilwell stock for each IRI common share they own. IRI International hopped 2 1/8, or 37%, to 7 7/8.

Based on National-Oilwell's closing price yesterday, the deal is currently valued at $8.04 per IRI share, or $321 million. National-Oilwell will issue a total of 13.5 million shares of its stock for the transaction, which will be accounted for as a pooling of interests and is expected to be tax-free to both companies and IRI stockholders.

Phelps Dodge

(PD) - Get Report

jumped 3 1/4, or 6.6%, to 52 7/8 after it said it will sell its subsidiary Cyprus Australia Coal to a unit of Switzerland-based

Glencore International

for $150 million.

VerticalNet

(VERT)

climbed 13 1/16, or 6%, to 230 3/8 and

Eastman Chemical

(EMN) - Get Report

added 2, or 5.1%, to 41 9/16 have entered a deal to develop an e-commerce paint industry marketplace.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified. New highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified.

)

Corning

(GLW) - Get Report

gained 4 1/8 to 174 3/8 after it said it expects to post first-quarter earnings of 53 cents to 55 cents a share, beating the 11-analyst estimate of 48 cents a share.

ING Groep

(ING) - Get Report

, the Amsterdam-based global financial services concern, rose 4 1/8, or 8.5%, to 52 7/8 after it said operational net profit rose 53.5% in 1999 from 1998 to $3.243 billion. Operational net profit from insurance operations rose 19.6% to $1.961 billion, while profit from banking operations increased 171.5% to $1.282 billion thanks to better results from trading and decreased risk costs. After losing $988 million in 1998,

ING Barings

, its investment banking arm, posted a profit of $220 million in 1999.

Intuit

(INTU) - Get Report

added 1 7/8 to 51 15/16 after CEO Steve Bennett said at a company conference that he sees both its pro forma revenue and operating income increasing by more than 20% in fiscal 2001. The 11-analyst estimate expects the company to post fiscal 2001 earnings of 69 cents a share.

Kimball International

(KBALB)

inched up 1/4 to 13 1/4 after it said third-quarter profits would not meet analyst estimates of 35 cents to 39 cents a share, citing lower-than-expected sales of office furniture and higher promotional costs .

Paychex

(PAYX) - Get Report

lost 2 1/4 to 47 3/16 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share, a penny better than the 12-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 15 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Anchor Gaming

(SLOT)

shot up 3 1/16, or 8.5%, to 39 1/16 after it said it would add 1 million shares to its current share-repurchasing program.

Finisar

(FNSR) - Get Report

declined 2 3/4 to 122 after it said it filed for a 7 million-share secondary offering and set a 3-for-1 stock split.

The over-allotment option in the IPO

Infineon Technologies

(IFX)

has been fully allotted, co-lead manager

Deutsche Bank

said. Infineon shed 3/8 to 70 5/8.

Merix

(MERX)

filed for a 3 million-share secondary offering, with 1 million shares being sold by

Tektronix

(TEK)

. Merix slipped 3 7/8, or 16.9%, to 19 and Tektronix leaped 6 3/8, or 10.9%, to 64 1/2.

Neose Technologies

TheStreet Recommends

(NTEC) - Get Report

lost 3 9/16, or 10%, to 32 1/16 after it said it priced a 2 million-share offering at $32 each.

PSI Technologies

(PSIT)

gained 5 1/8, or 32%, to 21 1/8.

Chase Hambrecht & Quist

priced 3.5 million ADRs at $16 each, above the expected $13 to $15 range. PSI is a semiconductor packaging and testing service based in the Philippines.

Tele1 Europe Holding

(TEUR)

tacked on 5 3/16, or 28%, to 23 11/16 after being priced at $18.50 per ADR, near the top of the estimated $17 to $19 range.

Lehman Brothers

was the lead underwriter.

Analyst actions

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

climbed 1 5/8 to 86 1/16 after its price target was raised to 95 at

Credit Suisse First Boston

.

American Home Products

(AHP)

rose 2 15/16, or 5.7%, to 54 7/8: NEW buy at

Bear Stearns

.

Aspen Technology

(AZPN) - Get Report

gained 9 9/16, or 26.7%, to 45 3/8: 12-18 month price target UP to 100 at

Banc of America

.

Aztar

(AZR)

inched up 1/16 to 10 1/8: first-quarter earnings UP to 17 cents a share at

Lehman Brothers

.

Bristol-Meyers

(BMY) - Get Report

rose 4 7/8, or 9.7%, to 55 3/8: NEW buy at

Bear Stearns

.

Electro Scientific

(ESIO) - Get Report

lost 2 11/16 to 59: 2001 earnings estimate UP to $2.29 from $1.80 at

Warburg Dillon Read

.

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

gained 2 to 64 3/4: NEW buy at Bear Stearns.

Intersil

(ISIL)

gained 1 3/4 to 48 1/4: NEW strong buy and a price target of 70 at CSFB.

J.B. Hunt Transport

(JBHT) - Get Report

added 1/2 to 15 1/2: UP to buy at

Banc of America

; price target: 25.

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

: UP to intermediate-term buy from accumulate at

Merrill Lynch

. Kohl's popped 9 7/8, or 11%, to 94 5/8.

Lattice Semiconductor

(LSCC) - Get Report

: price target UP to 100 at CSFB. Lattice Semiconductor lifted 3 15/16, or 6.1%, to 68 1/16.

MacDermid

(MRD)

: DOWN to market perform from buy at

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

. MacDermid fell 5 13/16, or 18.4%, to 25 11/16.

Manhattan Associates

(MANH) - Get Report

: UP to buy from hold at

Wit Soundview

. Manhattan Associates advanced 1 3/4, or 9.6%, to 19 7/8.

Maxtor

(MXTR)

: price target UP to 17 from 10 at

Banc of America.

. Maxtor hopped 1, or 8.4%, to 12 13/16.

Micron Tech

(MU) - Get Report

: UP to outperform from hold for the intermediate term at

Gruntal

. Micron Tech added 3/8 to 113 3/8.

Phillips Petroleum

(P)

: UP to buy from market perform at

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

. Phillips Petroleum mounted 3 1/8, or 7.8%, to 43 1/8.

Savvis Communications

(SVVS)

: NEW intermediate and long-term buy at Merrill Lynch. Savvis Communications lost 1 31/32, or 8.9%, to 20 1/8.

Software.com

(SWCM)

: NEW strong buy at

SG Cowen

. Software.com sank 14 1/16, or 9.8%, to 128 1/2.

Textron

(TXT) - Get Report

: UP to recommended list from market outperform at

Goldman Sachs.

Textron gained 4 1/2, or 8.2%, to 59 5/16.

Via Net.Works

(VNWI)

: NEW outperform at

Salomon Smith Barney

. Via Net.Works skidded 3 1/2, or 8%, to 40 1/4.

W.R. Grace

(GRA) - Get Report

: NEW outperform at Salmon Smith Barney. W.R. Grace tacked on 1 15/16, or 18.7%, to 12 1/4.

Werner Enterprises

(WERN) - Get Report

: UP to buy at Banc of America; price target: 20. Werner Enterprise climbed 1 5/16, or 10.1%, to 14 3/16.

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

: Price target UP to 85 from 55 at

Credit Suisse First Boston.

Xilinx jumped 3 1/8 to 72 5/16.

Miscellany

Less than stellar news out of

Peapod

(PPOD)

today. Peapod said Bill Malloy, the company's CEO and president, is leaving due to health reasons and, because of that, parties to a previously announced potential investment of $120 million in the company have terminated the planned investment.

The company, which has had substantial operating losses since its birth, has $3 million in cash on hand. The company's board has told its financial advisor

Wasserstein Perrella

to "explore strategic alternatives," including "possible alternative financing or a possible sale of the company." Peapod

Saftey-Kleen

(SK)

declined 5/8, or 37%, to 1 1/16 after it said it planned to sell its former headquarters in Elgin, Ill. and is negotiating for a $20 million line of credit from banks.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

takes a look at the mix of investors in

Federated Department Stores

and the difficulty the company is having pleasing either group. The company picked up a new strain of investors last year thanks to the addition of a mushrooming Internet operation, the column notes. Those new investors want Federated to invest heavily in the Net, which puts them at odds with the company's traditional investors who expect growing profits and not heavy Net expenditures, the column said. Federated Department Stores advanced 1 3/4 to 41 1/16.

NextCard

(NXCD)

hopped 4, or 25.5%, to 19 11/16 after it named John Hashman president.

In part because of a government antitrust probe of

Sotheby's

(BID) - Get Report

and

Christie's

, the two auction houses are facing their worst shortage of items for sale in nearly a decade, the

Journal

reported. Sotheby's skidded 1 3/16, or 5.5%, to 20 1/16.