Disney and GM Steal Focus From Earnings News

The latest news on the corporate front looks like it may grab investors' attention this morning.
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This week is supposed to be all about earnings, but news on the corporate front looks like it may grab investors' attention this morning.

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

announced that it will combine its

Buena Vista Internet Group

with

Infoseek

(SEEK)

and will offer a tracking stock for the newly formed company,

go.com

. Disney, which currently owns a 42% stake in Infoseek, will have about a 72% stake in go.com.

While some investors hurt their heads trying to figure what the Disney deal means (the only thing they know is that the rap on Disney's Internet business acumen has not been very good so far), others will be trying to figure out what to make of Friday's after-the-close news that a California jury ordered

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

to pay $4.9 billion to six people severely burned when the fuel tank of their Chevy Malibu exploded after getting rear-ended. Maybe it seems unlikely that one will hold up, but buying stocks is a percentage game. How do you discount the possibility that GM will have to make the big payout?

There were some easier-to-understand things out there.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

announced that it would buy

Sequent Computer

(SQNT)

in a stock deal valued at $810 million. Rumors of the takeout emerged in the options market in

mid-June. And

Schlumberger

(SLB) - Get Report

announced that it will spin off its contract drilling business to be combined with

Transocean Offshore

(RIG) - Get Report

. Schlumberger shareholders will have a majority stake in the resulting company,

Transocean Sedco Forex

.

Stocks look like they'll start the day on firm note.

"Coming off the summer weekend, the stock market will probably stay with its natural drift upward," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at

Wachovia Securities

. "It's looking like it's gong to be up a little bit today."

At 9 a.m., the

S&P 500

futures were up 1.4, about a point above fair value and indicating a positive open.

The 30-year Treasury was up 4/32 to 89 24/32, putting the yield at 5.99%. Pretty good, considering how bonds in Europe have been selling off as the euro threatens parity with the dollar.

Foreign money, seeing a recent lull as an opportunity to buy, sent money gushing into Tokyo stocks today. The

Nikkei

climbed 336.45, or 1.9%, to 18,274.18. Blue-chips and technology shares led the rally -- a footprint of overseas buying. The potential for a Japanese recovery has prompted many global portfolios to move the Tokyo market up to a neutral weighting, and with chatter about how Japan may be

the

market to be in for the next few years, some are giving it more than that.

Late-day futures selling in Hong Kong made a good day in the stock market suddenly bad. The

Hang Seng

dropped 160.73, or 1.1%, to 14,061.84. The index had been as high as 14,404. It was the fifth day in a row of losses. Worries about more companies taking advantage of the market's gains this year and placing secondary offerings, creating a supply glut, continue to spook this market.

European stocks were faring well. In Frankfurt, the

Dax

was up 34.38 to 5673.33. In Paris, the

CAC

was up 37.44 to 4685.27. And in London, the

FTSE

was up 37.9 to 6600.5.

Monday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

is buying Chicago-based

Hull Group

for $531 million in stock, options and cash. The deal is expected to close in the fall.

IBM is buying Sequent Computer for $18 a share.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

said it will invest $400 million in

Rogers Communications

(RG)

.

Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group

of Britain is buying

Orion Capital

(OC) - Get Report

for about $1.4 billion in cash.

Accor

, a French hotel group, is acquiring

Red Roof Inns

(RRI)

in a transaction valued at more than $1.1 billion, including debt.

The St. Paul Companies

(SPC)

said it is selling its personal insurance operations to

MetLife Auto & Home

, a subsidiary of

Metropolitan Life Insurance

, for about $600 million.

Schlumberger and Transocean Offshore set a merger deal under which the offshore contract drilling business of Schlumberger,

Sedco Forex Offshore

, will be spun off and combined with Transocean Offshore. The new entity will be called Transocean Sedco Forex. The deal, which should close by Dec. 31, is expected to be modestly dilutive to Transocean Offshore's current earnings expectations for 2000 and accretive after that.

Quebecor Printing

, based in Montreal, is taking over Greenwich, Conn.-based

World Color Press

(WRC)

.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews (earnings estimates are from First Call

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

posted fiscal third-quarter earnings of 5 cents a share, beating the 11-analyst estimate of 3 cents and up from the year-ago 3 cents.

Greenbrier

(GBX) - Get Report

, a supplier of transportation equipment and services to the railroad industry in North America, posted fiscal third-quarter earnings of 43 cents a share, in line with the six analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 38 cents.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

is expected to post earnings tomorrow. The 31-analyst estimate calls for earnings of 53 cents a share.

Miscellany

Baxter International

(BAX) - Get Report

, a medical-products maker, is planning to spin off its cardiovascular business, creating a new publicly traded company with sales of nearly $1 billion.