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Applied Materials

(AMAT)

and

Sycamore Networks

(SCMR)

, both released earnings last night and were fodder this morning for analyst downgrades, readjustments and commentary. It seems like everyone has weighed in with opinions on the duo's fortunes.

Applied Materials announced first-quarter earnings

that beat estimates by a healthy margin -- 4 cents a share. But that's just the first quarter. Going forward, the chip-equipment maker said that next quarter's earnings would come in between 32 cents and 37 cents a share, much lower than the 49 cent estimate. The company also lowered revenue estimates.

Merrill Lynch

analyst Brett Hodess cut his second-quarter estimate to 36 cents from 51 cents and his 2001 estimate to $1.60 from $2.00. He had some harsh words about the company, too. "AMAT's industry view is the weakest we have seen," he wrote. "The company believes semiconductor capital spending could drop 20% in 2001. Demand is weak in all regions, with U.S. and Asian foundry and Korea particularly weak."

Lehman Brothers

analyst Edward White cut his full-year 2001 earnings per share estimate to $1.90 from $2.50, citing the company's weaker-than-expected outlook for the first half of the year. White, who also cut his price target to $65 from $90, also said he expects "a rebound" for the company in the second half of 2001.

Prudential Securities

cut its second-quarter earnings per share estimate to 36 cents from 52 cents a share, as well as its 2001 earnings estimate to $1.57 a share from $1.93 this morning. It also dropped its fiscal 2001 revenue estimate by $1 billion, to $8.1 billion from $9.1 billion.

Sycamore reported

second-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations by a penny, helped by its top-line growth. But the company also warned that 2001 growth would slow, not a good sign. Lehman Brothers cut its price target to $75 from $150, while maintaining a strong buy rating on the stock. "Customer concentration remains perhaps the greatest risk Sycamore faces," the analyst wrote.

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TheStreet Recommends

But the news in tech wasn't all bad -- not from an analyst's perspective, anyway.

J.P. Morgan

lifted the battered semiconductor sector, raising its ratings on five semiconductor companies. There were no details immediately available, but the following companies were all upgraded to long-term buy from long-term market performer, sidestepping the apparent near-term weakness by focusing on the long-term investment picture:

Varian Semiconductor

(VSEA)

,

ASM Lithography

(ASML)

,

Novellus

undefined

,

KLA-Tencor

(KLAC)

and the oft-battered, much-maligned Applied Materials.

Upgrades

Canadian Pacific

(CP)

: UP to outperform from neutral at

Salomon Smith Barney

.

Chevron

(CHV)

: UP to U.S. recommended for purchase from market outperform at

Goldman Sachs

.

CNF

(CNF)

: UP to buy from outperform at Salomon Smith Barney.

Lear

(LEA)

: UP to U.S. recommended for purchase from market outperform at Goldman Sachs.

Texaco

(TX)

: UP to U.S. recommended for purchase from market outperform at Goldman Sachs.

Downgrades

Coldwater Creek

(CWTR)

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at

UBS Piper Jaffray

.

ConAgra

(CAG)

: DOWN to market perform from market outperform at Goldman Sachs.

EMerge Interactive

undefined

: DOWN to hold from buy at

Credit Suisse First Boston

.

ExxonMobil

(XOM)

: DOWN to market outperform from U.S. recommended for purchase at Goldman Sachs.

Initiations

eLoyalty

undefined

: NEW outperform at Salomon Smith Barney.

ONI Systems

undefined

: NEW strong buy at Lehman Brothers; price target: $55. "We believe the company is strategically positioned to benefit from the acceleration for demand for optical transport systems," the analyst wrote.

Group Moves

CSFB started a big ol' bunch of biotechnology stocks this morning, covering both the therapeutics companies that produce treatments, therapies and drugs as well as the genomics companies that scour the genetic code for troublemaking genes:

  • Amgen (AMGN) : NEW strong buy; price target: $120.
  • Applied Biosystems (ABI) : NEW strong buy; price target: $103.
  • Biogenundefined: NEW hold; price target: $57.
  • Celera Genomics (CRA) : NEW buy; price target: $55.
  • Chiron (CHIR) : NEW buy; price target: $47.80.
  • Cor Therapeutics (CORR) : NEW buy; price target: $33.80.
  • Genentech (DNA) : NEW strong buy; price target: $76.
  • Genzyme (GENZ) : NEW strong buy; price target: $82.90.
  • IDEC Pharmaceuticalsundefined: NEW strong buy; price target: $61.80.
  • Immunexundefined: NEW hold; price target: $32.40.
  • Incyte Genomics (INCY) : NEW hold; price target: $20.60.
  • Medimmuneundefined: NEW strong buy; price target: $63.
  • Millennium Pharmaceuticalsundefined: NEW buy; price target: $41.30.
  • Myriad Genetics (MYGN) : NEW buy; price target: $72.10.
  • Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX) : NEW buy; price target: $40.
  • Orchid Biosciences (ORCH) : NEW buy; price target: $16.
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) : NEW buy; price target: $91.