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daily09-29-99

TheStreet.com's DAILY BULLETIN

September 30, 1999

http://www.thestreet.com

Market Data as of Close, 9/29/99:

o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 10,213.48 down 62.05, -0.60%

o Nasdaq Composite Index: 2,730.27 down 25.98, -0.94%

o S&P 500: 1,268.37 down 13.83, -1.08%

o TSC Internet: 643.49 up 12.19, 1.93%

o Russell 2000: 421.52 up 3.03, 0.72%

o 30-Year Treasury: 99 31/32 down 17/32, yield 6.117%

Companies in Today's Bulletin:

Excite@Home (ATHM:Nasdaq)

America Online (AOL:NYSE)

AT&T (T:NYSE)

eBay (EBAY:Nasdaq)

In Today's Bulletin:

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

o Internet: Talk of Excite Leaving @Home Riles Wall Street
o Wrong! Rear Echelon Revelations: You Bet It's Betting
o Bond Focus: Bonds Are an Over-Oiled Machine
o Evening Update: eBay Soars on Addition to Nasdaq 100; After-Hours Trading Update

TheStreet.com on the Fox News Channel

Gruntal's Peter Green does the "Drill" with Herb Greenberg and Dan Colarusso. Find out which stocks the technical analyst likes and which ones he'd most like to short.

And Gary B. Smith goes head-to-head with Adam Lashinsky over two top market indexes in Chartman. Will it be buy, sell or hold for the Nasdaq and the S&P 500?

Also, Jim Cramer's calling for a rough road in the month ahead. He'll tell how he plans to dodge the missiles of October.

"TheStreet.com" on the Fox News Channel airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET and Sundays at 10 a.m. ET.

FNC is Fox's 24-hour cable news channel. To find the Fox News Channel in your area, call your local cable operator or see our "TSC on Fox" page at www.thestreet.com/tv (look for the yellow box in the upper right hand corner).

Also on TheStreet.com:

Herb on TheStreet: *Extra* Why Amazon's New Plan May Be Further Evidence That Its Biz Ain't Booming

Checking back with Jeff Matthews on Amazon's new pitch. Plus, check out the discussion on our message boards.

http://www.thestreet.com/comment/herbonthestreet/788829.html

Consumer Products: Frosty Fourth-Quarter Outlook Chills Avon Shares

The stock plunges 27% after the cosmetics concern predicts it won't hit fourth-quarter targets.

http://www.thestreet.com/stocks/consumer/788940.html

Tech Savvy: Amazon's zShops: Big Idea?

Seymour thinks Bezos is doing things the right way, and eBay will be facing some serious competition. Discuss today's developments on our message board.

http://www.thestreet.com/comment/techsavvy/788773.html

Marc Chandler: Yanking the Yen

Rumors of an imminent liquidity boost by the Bank of Japan are running rampant in the forex markets today.

http://www.thestreet.com/comment/currency/788806.html

Internet: Talk of Excite Leaving @Home Riles Wall Street

By

Spencer E. Ante and

George Mannes

Staff REporters

9/29/99 10:51 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO --

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Autohome Inc. Report

is under increasing pressure to split itself into two companies, undoing a merger completed just four months ago, according to four investment bankers and money managers.

The pressure comes as speculation mounts that

America Online

(AOL)

is interested in buying the Excite portal business and striking a broadband distribution alliance with

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

, which owns a majority of Excite@Home's voting shares.

On Wednesday,

Bloomberg

and

CNBC

, among others, reported on the speculation that AOL would acquire Excite, which pushed up Excite@Home's stock 13%. Those reports followed one posted by

Streetadvisor.com

, a financial news site, on Sept. 25. And earlier this summer, reports said

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

was in talks to buy Excite.

Excite@Home declined to comment on the latest rumblings. AOL couldn't be reached for comment. AT&T spokesman Andrew Johnson denied rumors of a deal. "When I saw the news come over the wire I kind of scratched my head and said, 'What's going on?'" says Johnson. "I would normally get some inkling of it."

Many on Wall Street think this time the talk is more than your garden-variety bulletin board rumormongering.

CIBC World Markets

and

Merrill Lynch

both published research bulletins Wednesday bolstering the speculation.

"We believe that such a transaction makes sense for both," wrote

Merrill Lynch

analyst Henry Blodget. (Merrill helped underwrite @Home's 1997 IPO and acted as an adviser to @Home in its merger with Excite.)

Splitting the company into a content part (i.e. Excite) and a conduit part (i.e. @Home) would strengthen @Home's hand, wrote Blodget, because it would resolve the company's regulatory problems and put it in a better position to strike other deals with cable operators for set-top boxes. Blodget wrote that Merrill could neither deny nor confirm the speculation.

CIBC analyst John Michael Segrich wrote that a deal between AT&T and AOL is "highly likely (90% probability in our opinion)", and may occur in the "near term." (CIBC has no underwriting relationship with Excite@Home.)

Although AT&T controls 58% of Excite@Home's voting rights, it must garner the support of other board members such as

Cox Communications

(COX)

to take a big step like breaking up the company. Cox spokeswoman Amy Cohn declined to speculate on the rumors, but said that "we think content and distribution make sense and that's why we're supportive of their being one company."

AT&T broadband exec Leo Hindery has argued that the Excite acquisition runs counter to Ma Bell's stance of staying out of the content business. But Excite@Home CEO Tom Jermoluk has said he wants to keep the company together to compete against AOL.

A money manager who has no position in Excite@Home and who asked not to be named, says that, increasingly, AT&T and its cable partners are losing patience with the combined firm. "They're saying, 'We're spending all this money and we have to be hooked up to this one content partner,'" he comments.

In hindsight, a hint that Excite@Home might be split up came on Monday, when the company issued a release saying it was organizing its operations into two major divisions: Media & Marketing Services, focused on content and sales; and Subscriber Networks, which includes the @Home and @Work products.

Four people interviewed say they expect that AT&T and its cable partners would want to retain control of the network side of Excite@Home, that is, @Home's original business. The question, then, would be what company would want the former Excite.

One investment banker, whose firm has no underwriting relationship with Excite@Home, says he doubts Excite would go to AOL or Yahoo!. Rather, the most likely candidates are traditional media companies such as Barry Diller's

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Pacer American Energy Independence ETF Report

and the soon-to-be-combined

Viacom

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

and

CBS

(CBS) - Get CBS Corporation Class B Report

.

Viacom and CBS could use Excite to build a major portal, similar to what

Disney

(DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report

has done with

Infoseek

and

NBC

has done with

Snap.com

. And for Diller, Excite might be a good substitute for

Lycos

(LCOS)

, a company it tried unsuccessfully to buy this year. It has the kind of extensive shopping area that Diller coveted in Lycos. "Why

wouldn't

Barry Diller make a run at Excite?" the banker asks.

Wrong! Rear Echelon Revelations: You Bet It's Betting

By

James J. Cramer

9/29/99 10:37 PM ET

Wow, will the old timers want to nail me to the wall after I wrote that I was

excited about the action. Talk about a total taboo violator. This isn't a game about rapid price movement, or opportunity or rapid cash deployment. In fact, it is not a game at all. It is an investment process and to call it anything else is to run the risk of creating a casino-like atmosphere.

To which I say, GIVE ME A BREAK. It wasn't me that turned it into a casino. It was just me willing to admit what market professionals won't do because it savages the veneer they have cultivated all of their lives.

Maybe it's because I used to play the horses. Maybe it is because I used to bet large on Sundays. Or that I played in a rotisserie league that had me in arrears for the first two years of law school. Don't worry, I made good. But I can smell betting when I see it, and when we are out there taking

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report

up six points, we are gambling and we should just own up to that. We are assessing the odds and making a wager. I can't stand the sanctimonious people out there who would call this something else in a vain attempt to dignify what they do for a living. The worst ones are the ones who think there is a science behind it. A Nobel-awarding science. They are totally bogus.

It is about an edge. It is about being early, or ahead of the crowd. It is about perception and psychology and capitulation and hubris. It ain't about P/Es and price-to-book anymore.

Maybe it never really was.

Random musings

: If you are like me and have been watching

TSC

develop these years, you had to have a tinge of pride today. A dozen great Amazon stories, some terrific repartee in the commentary section and, best of all, spirited, intelligent discussion in the boards, something that no other board has. And no attacks on the person. People keep telling me not to go to the

Yahoo (YHOO)

and

S.I.

boards dealing with TSCM because they portray me as a cross between

Lex Luther

and

Ivan Boesky

. What a shame. I used to love to look at those boards. But their loss is our gain. And because we are a paid site, we can assure you that they will get better and better without interruption or

ad hominem

attack.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Amazon and Yahoo! and Cramer was long TheStreet.com. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.

Bond Focus: Bonds Are an Over-Oiled Machine

By

David A. Gaffen

Staff Reporter

9/29/99 4:53 PM ET

Bonds slid on an oil slick today, but the footing under the Treasury market was fragile to begin with. The bond market fell for the third straight day today, leaving Treasury yields back near the top of their recent trading range.

The price of oil per barrel today hit $25 for the first time since January 1997, and that was enough to continue bonds' temper tantrum. When there's little news to move bonds one way or another, they tend to bounce methodically back and forth in a range. But these volatile five days are as violent as

Star Trek

actors flinging themselves against walls to simulate turbulence.

The 30-year Treasury bond fell 15/32 to 100 1/32, pushing the yield up 3 basis points to 6.12%. Tracker

GovPX

reported volume up 17% when compared with the average Wednesday this past month.

"We're definitely sitting at the low end of the trading range now," said Maryann Hurley, vice president in taxable fixed-income trading at

D.A. Davidson

in Seattle. "It's a combination of the huge run-up in gold prices in the last two days and oil continuing its upswing. Further than that, in the

Chicago NAPM

released tomorrow, we're going to see prices paid coming in stronger."

The price of oil bounded over $25 this morning, hitting an intraday high of $25.08. It actually closed up 29 cents to $24.62, but the damage was done. By contrast, gold prices tapered off today, closing down $7.30 to $301.50 an ounce -- but that's still up $40 this week. Gold has lost some of its luster as an inflation hedge, but the price increases still underscore the fact that commodity prices overall continue to rise, and that's potentially inflationary because it increases the prices of goods used in production. The

Bridge/Commodity Research Bureau

index closed up 5 cents today at 208.02.

But the seeds of this selloff were sown on Friday, when the bond market forced out its second consecutive 1-point rally. The swiftness of that two-day rally had some traders thinking the market might push firmly below 6% this week. That optimistic projection was based on expectations for more flight to quality heading into Y2K, but it seems the market might have discounted Y2K fears a little early.

With this three-day selloff to provide hindsight, last week's rally now looks more like a couple days of technical buying, exaggerated by the flagging stock market, rather than a determined swing upward. The reports of selling by those covering shorts on losses in gold may have similarly distorted this week's activity. It's more energetic range trading, but it's a range nonetheless.

"A few days ago, it looked like we were breaking out to the upside," said Bill Kirby, co-head of government bond trading at

Prudential Securities

. "Now we're drifting back to the lower end. We'll probably hold there and then go on with business as usual. As we drift further into the fourth quarter, that may change."

Not if economic reports resemble what the market's been seeing month in and month out, said Hurley. Despite the liquidity jitters that may arise due to Y2K, the economy isn't showing any signs of slowing.

"We have to see a slowdown in commodity prices -- that's not happening," said Hurley. "Or, we'll have to see a definitive slowdown in the overall economy. We're seeing some slowing from really, really high levels. If we're going to break out, it's not going to be with higher prices and lower yields."

The Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index is tomorrow's most important release. Forecasts as estimated by

Reuters

are for the index to rise to 56.6 in September from 56.1 in August. The report is a survey of Midwest manufacturing conditions and is reportedly watched closely by the

Fed

.

Also, the

Commerce Department

will release August's

new homes sales

data tomorrow at 10 a.m. EDT. The forecast is for sales to decline on a seasonally adjusted annual pace to 946,000 from 980,000 in July, but the housing market's been pretty stubborn to slow down, despite what economists think.

Lastly, the final revision to second-quarter

GDP

will be released tomorrow. The market is expecting no change to the previous estimate of 1.8%.

TO VIEW TSC'S ECONOMIC DATABANK, SEE:

http://www.thestreet.com/markets/databank/786775.html

Evening Update: eBay Soars on Addition to Nasdaq 100; After-Hours Trading Update

By

Tara Murphy

Staff Reporter

9/29/99 9:00 PM ET

eBay

(EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report

roared up 7 15/16 to 147 in after-hours

Island ECN

trading on news that it will join the

Nasdaq 100

on Monday. eBay, whose market capitalization is about $17.7 billion, will replace

Centocor

(CNTO)

, which

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report

is acquiring. The Nasdaq 100 is an index of the 100 largest nonfinancial stocks on the

Nasdaq Stock Market

.

Broadband provider

CAIS Internet

(CAIS)

will announce Thursday that

Qwest Communications

(QWST)

is investing $15 million in the company at a price of $12 a share. CAIS closed Wednesday at 11, down 1/4.

In addition, CAIS, which provides the hardware, software, and connectivity for hotels and apartment communities, will also announce that it will purchase 44 million IRUs, or bandwidth units, from Qwest, said Gary Rabin, company executive vice president of finance and strategic planning, at the

Volpe Brown Whelan Internet & Communications

conference Wednesday. That basically means that CAIS will have the right to that dedicated amount of bandwidth for 20 years, Rabin said.

CAIS announced earlier Wednesday that it signed an agreement with

Bass Hotels & Resorts

(BAS) - Get Basic Energy Services, Inc. Report

. The deal lets CAIS install its high-speed Internet access products in an initial 60

Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn

properties. CAIS Internet will hook up an initial 6,700 units in 60 cities nationwide.

The company already has arrangements with

Hilton

(HLT) - Get Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc Report

,

Radisson

and others, and has its service available in 887 hotels and more than 200,000 rooms in the U.S.

--

Suzanne Galante

After-Hours Markets

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report

led both

MarketXT

and

Island ECN

in after-hours trading. How heavy was the volume in the online retailer? Yesterday's volume leader on Island was

Medscape

(MSCP)

with 97,830 shares. Tonight, Amazon is almost double that.

Island ECN, owned by Datek Online, offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT. Prior to Sept. 15 Island offered trading from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. EDT

.

MarketXT, formerly Eclipse Trading, offers after-hours trading to retail clients of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's (MWD) Discover Brokerage and Mellon Bank's (MEL) Dreyfus Brokerage Services. Clients can trade 200 of the most actively traded New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market issues, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT Monday through Thursday.

TheStreet.com

updates the most active issues on both MarketXT and Island ECN in Got a Minute? and in the Evening Update.

--

Eric Gillin

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from

First Call/Thomson Financial

; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

AGL

(ATG)

said the $25 million sale of its stake in

Sonat Power and Marketing

would result in a fourth-quarter pretax gain of roughly $20 million.

Allegiance Telecom

(ALGX)

said it anticipates third-quarter revenue between $30 million to $31 million, greatly beating the year-ago revenue report of $2.8 million.

AutoZone

(AZO) - Get AutoZone, Inc. Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share, in line with the 14-analyst estimate of 67 cents, and beating the year-ago 60 cents.

CellStar

(CLST)

reported third-quarter earnings of 25 cents a share, missing the five-analyst estimate of 27 cents but up from the year-ago 14 cents.

CompUSA

(CPU)

said its first-quarter same-store sales declined 2% to $1.36 billion, down from the year-ago $1.39 billion. The computer retailer blamed the decline on slowness in its direct sales, related technical services and technology training sales. Compared with a year ago, direct sales slipped 14% to $410 million, while technical services and training sales fell 8% to $30 million and 14% to $23 million respectively. In addition, the company said that comparable same-store sales for 195 stores in business a year or more stumbled 0.3%.

Flowers

(FLO) - Get Flowers Foods, Inc. Report

warned investors that it would post third-quarter earnings below the 10-analyst estimate of 20 cents a share, citing its

Mrs. Smith's Bakeries

subsidiary's weak sales and ongoing costs as a cause for the disappointing results. The company holds a 55% interest in

Keebler Foods

(KBL)

.

Keystone Financial

(KSTN)

said it expects to post fiscal 1999 earnings of $1.90 a share, missing both the six-analyst estimate of $2.03 and the year-ago $1.92. The company blamed softness in its retail loans and increasing costs for the disappointing earnings.

Morrison Knudsen

(MK)

posted third-quarter earnings of 23 cents a share, in line with the five-analyst estimate and beating the year-ago 18 cents.

Personnel Group of America

(PGA)

said it is on track to post third-quarter earnings in line with the 11-analyst estimate of 25 cents a share. In addition, the company said it set a $30 million share-repurchasing plan.

Rexall Sundown

(RXSD)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 21 cents a share, in line with the nine-analyst estimate of 21 cents and up from the year-ago 28 cents.

Rite Aid

(RAD) - Get Rite Aid Corporation Report

said September same-store sales were boosted 8.3% by pharmacy same-store sales growth of 16.7%.

RTI International Metals

(RTI)

warned investors that it expects to report a third-quarter loss of 7 cents to 12 cents a share, after it assumes a $1 million to $1.5 million charge for new product development and slow oil and gas exploration markets. The two-analyst consensus estimate expects the company to post earnings of 14 cents a share, lower than the year-ago 76 cents a share.

Sara Lee

(SLE)

posted first-quarter earnings of 28 cents a share, beating both the 13-analyst estimate of 26 cents and the year-ago 25 cents.

WD-40

(WDFC) - Get WD-40 Company Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 44 cents a share, beating both the single-analyst estimate of 42 cents and the year-ago 40 cents a share.

Offerings and stock actions

Extreme Networks

(EXTR) - Get Extreme Networks, Inc. Report

said it has filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

for an offering of 6.5 million common shares.

Credit Suisse First Boston

priced a 5.5 million-share IPO for

Tivo

(TIVO:Nasdaq) above-range at $16 per share.

Miscellany

Consol Energy

(CNX) - Get CNX Resources Corporation Report

said it would shut down three coal mines, which are used as a resource for the

Keystone

power plant in western Pennsylvania, while continuing to operate a West Virginia mine for at least two months. The closings, which are set to occur in early December, will leave 560 employees out of work. Consol spokesman Thomas Hoffman said the company has forge an agreement with the power plants owners including

Conectiv

(CIV)

,

GPU

(GPU)

,

PECO Energy

(PE) - Get Parsley Energy, Inc. Class A Report

and

Public Service Enterprise Group

(PEG) - Get Public Service Enterprise Group Inc Report

to supply the facility with coal from other mines that are cheaper to operate.

Nextlink

(NXLK)

announced the departure of President and COO George Tronsrue. The company said Tronsrue resigned from the company to "pursue other career opportunities."

Union Pacific

(UNP) - Get Union Pacific Corporation Report

trucking division

Overnite Transportation

said workers have filed another petition with the

National Labor Relations Board

to ax the

Teamsters

as their current negotiating representative. The NLRB said that workers at 10 facilities have filed 13 decertification petitions in the last two years. Overnite said one of the key issues dividing the union and the company is the Teamsters insistence that the workers swap their wholly funded pension plan for the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund.

Copyright 1999, TheStreet.com