Updated from 4:32 p.m. EDT

Software giant

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

dropped $6.63, or 7.8%, to $78.31 despite posting first-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share, greatly beating the 28-analyst estimate of 13 cents and topping the year-ago 8 cent profit. The company, which also set a 2-for-1 stock split, said the results were strengthened by improved margins and robust sales of new software that moves business operations to the Web. CFO Jeff Henley said he sees continuing operating-margin improvement.

For more on Oracle's

first-quarter earnings, check out

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom coverage.

The news sparked a wave of research notes.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

raised Oracle's 2001 earnings estimate to $1.02 a share from 98 cents and its 2002 estimate to $1.17 from $1.13.

J.P. Morgan

raised second-quarter earnings estimates on the company to 19 cents from 18 cents and full-year estimates to 97 cents from 91 cents.

Salomon Smith Barney

and

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

upped fiscal 2001 earnings to 98 cents from 90 cents. Salomon also pushed its 2002 EPS view to $1.13 from $1.09.

Maytag

(MYG)

, the appliance-maker, fell $2.19, or 6.1%, to $33.63 after it cautioned that its fiscal 2000 second-half earnings would fall 8% to 10% below the year-ago report of $1.74.

The company, which blamed the shortfall on a loss of sales at

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Report

and

Heilig-Meyers

stores, said third-quarter earnings per share would be in the mid-70 cent range, missing the seven-analyst estimate of 97 cents, and fourth-quarter earnings would be in the low to mid-80 cent range, below the six-analyst estimate of 97 cents. Circuit City fell 63 cents to $24.63.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Ford

(F) - Get Report

fell 6 cents to $25.81 after it said it won't make a final bid for South Korea's

Daewoo Motor

. The deal had been expected to be completed at the end of the month.

Ford Vice Chairman Wayne Booker said in a statement that a proposal that would be in the interest of both companies and their shareholders wouldn't be possible.

Creditors are selling debt-laden Daewoo as part of the breakup of its parent company.

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

, which made an earlier bid for Daewoo with

Fiat

(FIA)

, said it still was interested in making a deal. General Motors dropped $2.38, or 3.3%. to $70.63.

Meanwhile, Ford announced that it would buy back $5 billion of common and Class B stock in an effort to boost its value. The automaker's stock has fallen more than 10% since the

Firestone

tire recall.

TheStreet.com

wrote about the

buyback yesterday.

EMI Group

was keeping hope alive for its proposed joint venture with

Time Warner's

(TWX)

unit

Warner Music

. Time Warner dropped $1.13 to $79.81.

The deal, valued at $20 billion, could be blocked by the

European Commission

, which is concerned that the new company would monopolize Internet distribution channels, bypassing the traditional clearing houses for music. Senior officials from EMI will meet with

European Union

Competition Commissioner Mario Monti on Monday, just before the deadline for EMI to offer concessions to assuage regulators' fears.

A company spokesman told

Reuters

that EMI was hopeful that problems can be remedied. The commission hasn't yet made any decision, either in draft or official form, on the Warner-EMI deal. It has until Oct. 18 to make a final ruling. Just six days later, it will rule on that massive

AOL

(AOL)

-Time Warner deal.

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

gained $1.50, or 9.4%, to $17.50 after

Business Week's

"Inside Wall Street" column -- not known for its success rate in predicting Rumors -- reported that the company was a potential takeover target of

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

or Japan's

Canon

. Hewlett-Packard dropped $5.25 to $103.

Xerox was trading at $16.75, up 75 cents, on

Instinet

, even though the column has only the sketchiest of details about the potential for a takeover, quoting one source as saying talks with various suitors "have brought no conclusive results so far."

National Steel & Shipbuilding

, a subsidiary of

General Dynamics

(GD) - Get Report

, signed a $630 million contract with

BP Amoco

(BP) - Get Report

to construct three crude-oil carrying tankers, with options to build three more.

General Dynamics employs about 44,000 people and has annualized sales of about $10 billion. General Dynamics lost $1.25 to $62.06, while BP Amoco rose $1.13 to $55.13.

Boise Cascade

(BCC) - Get Report

slipped 50 cents to $27.50 after it purchased

US Office Products

(OFIS)

unit

Blue Star Business Group

for $115 million, helping the popular paper-maker expand into Australia and New Zealand.

After Thursday's Close

Dexter

(DEX) - Get Report

, a manufacturing company, said its stockholders favored its merger with medical-research kit maker

Invitrogen

(IVGN)

. Invitrogen rose $3.02, or 5.3%, to $60.33.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Anadigics'

(ANAD)

fell $5.20, or 17.4%, to $24.67 after it said its second half isn't looking pretty, despite record-high third-quarter earnings. The company announced a revenue shortfall of 30% to 35% from its original third-quarter predictions, and also said that fourth-quarter earnings would be down.

What threw cold water on such high hopes? Anadigics' best customer was forced to cancel orders after a fire at a different supplier's factory disrupted production.

ArvinMeritor

(ARM)

lost $2.38, or 14.2%, to $14.38 after it warned that it expects fourth-quarter earnings below estimates because of a downturn in production of certain vehicles. The auto-parts supplier said it now expects earnings of 40 cents to 45 cents a share, compared with an eight-analyst estimate of 59 cents. It said it is comfortable with the consensus estimate for fiscal 2001 of $3.85. The

First Call/Thomson Financial

nine-analyst estimate was $3.86 for 2001.

ArvinMeritor CEO Larry Yost said it was also hit by the weakening euro and customer plant shutdowns.

Briggs & Stratton

(BGG) - Get Report

lost $2.63, or 6%, to $41.50 after it issued an earnings warning this morning, saying it would likely post a loss in its fiscal first quarter due to sluggish sales of the small gasoline engines it produces.

The company said it expects to lose between 13 cents and 18 cents a share for the fiscal first quarter, compared with the

First Call/Thomson Financial

consensus estimate of 14 cents. In a press release, the company said greater-than-expected inventories at Briggs' customers, due to slower sales, was the reason for lowered expectations. The company hopes to make up the revenue in coming quarters.

Clorox

(CLX) - Get Report

slipped 44 cents to $35.81 after it announced that it was comfortable with Wall Street's estimates of 41 cents a share for first quarter 2001.

Plantronics

(PLT) - Get Report

sunk $4.25, or 9.9%, to $38.75 after it said it expects second-quarter earnings in line with analysts' estimates despite "rumors and speculation" about foreign currencies affecting the stock. The three-analyst estimate is 37 cents.

Not that it's psychic, but

PSINet

(PSIX)

lost $2.69, or 18.6%, to $11.75 after it made some new predictions for the second half of this year based on its recent acquisition of a consulting solutions business. The company said second-half revenue will come in between $920 million and $960 million and that

EBITDA profits will be $5 million to $15 million vs. last year's $17 million loss.

This morning,

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

cut the stock to neutral from outperform.

After Thursday's Close

Adobe Systems

(ADBE) - Get Report

soared $7.25, or 5.8%, to $132.63 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 57 cents a share, topping the 11-analyst estimate of 52 cents and up from the year-ago 44 cents a share. The software-maker, which is shooting for a 25% increase in its fourth-quarter revenue growth from the year-ago report, also set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Avon

(AVP) - Get Report

fell 50 cents to $41.19 after it said the

Securities and Exchange Commission

is conducting a probe into a $15 million special charge that it assumed in the first quarter of fiscal 1999. According to Avon, the charge was related to an order-management software system for its sales force, of which $15 million in expenses was written off.

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

dropped $2 after it reported first-quarter earnings of 77 cents a share, edging out the 12-analyst estimate of 74 cents and up from the year-ago report of a 70 cent profit. The sportswear company attributed the results to robust international growth.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

raised the stock's 2001 earnings estimate to $2.40 a share from $2.37.

Pentair

(PNR) - Get Report

shed $7.69, or 23.3%, to $25.25 after it warned investors that it would post third-quarter earnings between 25 cents and 30 cents a share, below the seven-analyst estimate of 75 cents a share. The tools and equipment maker also said that its fiscal 2000 earnings would come in between $2.35 to $2.45 a share, missing the seven-analyst estimate of $3.24, while its fiscal 2001 earnings will be about $3.50, below the seven-analyst estimate of $3.96. Pentair said it doesn't see the industry improving until 2001.

Verity

(VRTY)

, a Web-search software company, lost 75 cents to $41.75 after it posted first-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share, topping the five-analyst estimate of 14 cents and up from the year-ago 10 cent profit.

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Analyst actions

Veritas

(VTS)

gained 25 cents to $30.25 after it was upgraded by one analyst this morning and had its estimates raised by another after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 15 cents a share yesterday.

Merrill Lynch

upgraded the company to a buy from accumulate, and

Jefferies

raised its price target to $35 from $30. The 14-broker

First Call/Thomson Financial

consensus was for earnings of 12 cents per share.

Upgrades

Archer Daniels Midland

(ADM) - Get Report

: UP to buy from hold at

Credit Suisse First Boston

. The stock moved up 13 cents to $8.94.

Chase Manhattan

(CMB)

: UP to hold from sell at CSFB. It lost 88 cents to $49.13 in spite of the news.

Ebenx

(EBNX)

:

W.R. Hambrecht

raised 2000 estimates to a loss of 28 cents a share from a loss of 32 cents a share, and for 2001, to a 4 cent loss from a 15 cent loss. The stock was down 56 cents to $15.25.

Globecomm Systems

(GCOM)

hopped up 6.1%, or 88 cents, to $15.19, after it was raised to strong buy from buy at

ING Barings

.

Tamsa

(TAM)

: UP to strong buy from outperform at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

. The stock gained $1.44, or 9%, to $17.44.

Downgrades

Black & Decker

: DOWN to market perform from strong buy at

Legg Mason

. It rose $1.19 to $37.38.

Initiations

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

: NEW buy at

UBS Warburg

; price target: $120. It edged up 13 cents to $85.13.

AmBev

(ABV)

: NEW buy at

Merrill Lynch

. The stock inched up 69 cents to $21.69.

America Online Latin America

(AOLA)

: NEW buy at CSFB; price target: $17. It was 9%, or 72 cents, to $8.72.

Autonomy

(AUTN)

: NEW buy at CSFB; price target: $67. Autonomy wasn't helped by the news. It fell $1.44 to $55.75.

Aviron

(AVIR)

: NEW buy at

Chase Hambrecht & Quist

. Aviron was $1.69 to $51.38.

Chesapeake

(CSK)

: NEW market outperformer at

Goldman Sachs

. The stock slipped 38 cents to $22.25.

Key3Media

(KME)

: NEW strong buy at

SG Cowen

; price target: $14. Key3Media jumped $1.38, or 14.8%, to $10.69.

Washington Mutual

(WM) - Get Report

: NEW buy at CSFB. The stock tumbled 81 cents to $36.31.

Group Moves

CSFB initiated coverage on several bank-holding and financial companies:

  • Sovereign Bancorp (SVRN) , buy. The stock inched up 13 cents to $9.88.
  • Banknorth Group (BKNG) - Get Report, buy. It slid 19 cents to $17.81.
  • Greenpoint Financial (GPT) , hold. Greenpoint lost 75 cents to $27.25.
  • Golden West Financial (GDW) , hold. The stock was 94 cents lower to $48.25.
  • Golden State Bancorp (GSB) - Get Report, hold. Golden State was off 31 cents to $22.25.
  • Charter One Financial (CF) - Get Report, hold. It was down 31 cents to $24.25.
  • Astoria Financial (ASFC) , hold. Astoria Financial dropped 56 cents to $37.50.

SG Cowen

initiated coverage of three business-to-business stocks, and resumed coverage on another:

  • Aspen Technology (AZPN) - Get Report: REINITIATED buy. The stock shot up $1.38 to $46.75.
  • Commerce One (CMRC) : INITIATED strong buy. Commerce One was down 56 cents to $70.19.
  • PurchasePro.com (PPRO) : NEW strong buy. The stock was lifted $2.13 to $64.63.
  • VerticalNet (VERT) : NEW buy. VerticalNet sunk $2.88, or 6.5%, to $41.63.

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Offerings and stock actions

Computer Network Technology

(CMNT)

, a storage-networking company, announced a plan to offer 3.7 million shares. Computer Network Technology dropped $2.75, or 11.7%, to $20.75.

Transaction Systems Architects

(TSAI)

said it would postpone its IPO for its

Insession Technologies

division, citing unfavorable market conditions. Transaction Systems Architects fell $1.06, or 6.2%, to $16.19.

US Industries

(USI) - Get Report

, a consumer building-products supplier, said it plans to spin off its lighting and industrial tools units through an IPO. U.S. Industries executive James O'Leary will head the spinoff, which is to be completed by the end of the year. The new company will apply for a listing on the

New York Stock Exchange

. US Industries slid 25 cents to $11.88.

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Miscellany

Agilent Technologies

(A) - Get Report

, a medical-devices maker, said it will open a DNA microarray production plant in Palo Alto, Calif., that would increase its output to more than 1 million microarrays a year by 2002. Agilent Technologies gained $1.25 to $57.

In related news,

O.I. Corp.

(OICO)

said Agilent won't renew its agreement to sell equipment to O.I. Their contract ends Nov. 30. O.I. said sales of products that include Agilent parts were estimated at about 19% of total sales for 1999.

Andrew

(ANDW)

, the Communications-systems equipment supplier, named Guy M. Campbell as CEO. Campbell, who joined Andrew in February 1999 as group president, will succeed Floyd English, who remains chairman, on Oct 1. Andrew lowered 81 cents to $30.63.

CMGI's

(CMGI)

stock lately fell $2.38, or 6%, to $37.75, after its

AltaVista

division announced plans to lay off 225 employees -- 25% of its work force -- in order to leave the Internet media network business, renew its focus on its search capabilities and increase profits.

Also, CMGI unit

CMGion

will acquire

Tribal Voice

, also owned by CMGI, as a first step in consolidating CMGI's 17 majority-owned operating companies and venture capital affiliates into six business lines. CMGion will integrate Tribal Voice's instant messaging technology into its Internet applications and content delivery operations. The companies did not disclose the sum of the purchase.

CMGI has a number of majority-owned operating companies, among them

iCAST

, which today named Joe Fleischer its new CEO. Fleischer previously was corporate vice president of

MP3.com

(MPPP)

.

Today

Dime

(DME)

made moves designed to save pennies, nickels and, well, Dime itself. The New York banker announced a major restructuring, selling $2 billion in securities -- most mortgage-based -- while eliminating 6% of its jobs. Dime said the moves would trim $50 million from its annual expenses and bring a pretax charge of $38 million, most of that in the third quarter. The company said the moves would have a positive effect on 2001 earnings.

This action is the latest in a series of moves from Dime, which is fighting a 6-month hostile takeover bid from

North Fork

(NFB)

. In July, the company started a Dutch-style stock buyback program, accepted a $238 million equity investment and fought off North Fork's attempt to replace its board. Dime increased $1.50, or 7.5%, to $21.63

Ivax

(IVX)

has received final approval from the

Food and Drug Administration

to sell a generic version of the cancer-treatment drug Taxol, which is sold by

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

.

Trading in Ivax was halted at 1:47 p.m. EDT with the stock at $39.75, down $1.50. Bristol-Myers, meanwhile, was lately up 13 cents to $53.44. The two companies had

tussled over Ivax's desire to introduce paclitaxel, the chemical name for Taxol. The drug is sold by Bristol-Myers for treatment of breast and ovarian cancer, and it has annual global sales of $1.5 billion.

Large pharmaceutical companies have been waging war against drug-makers eager to produce generic versions of popular drugs.

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

earlier fought with

Barr Laboratories

(BRL)

over the latter's desire to produce a generic version of Prozac. Ivax ended the day up $3.13 to $44.38.

Orbital Sciences

(ORB)

reaffirmed its support for

Orbcomm Global

, which today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to help restructure its business.

Orbital Sciences said the filing would not hurt its operations. The company expects to continue operations of its satellites and ground facilities during the restructuring.

Orbcomm is a joint venture between Orbital Sciences and

Teleglobe

(TGO)

. Orbcomm missed an Aug. 15 interest payment on a $170 million loan. The struggling company cut 100 jobs in August and let go about the same number of employees in June.

TheStreet.com

wrote about it in a

separate story.

Teleglobe lifted 56 cents to $21.31, while Orbital Sciences lowered 69 cents, or 7.9%, to $8.

PG&E

(PCG) - Get Report

, California's largest utility and parent of

Pacific Gas & Electric

, is trying to end a 4-year retail-rate freeze the utility said has cost it $2.2 billion this summer,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

Utility prices in California have been much in the news lately because they have climbed so high -- at least in southern California. In San Francisco and other parts of northern California, an imposed freeze by the California Legislature set in 1996 has shielded customers from those high levels this summer. The rate freeze allowed investor-owned utilities, including PG&E, to set their rates at what seemed at the time to be high levels so the companies could pay down debt to regulators. Now the company wants the freeze to end, the

Journal

wrote.

The article said that since the rate cap was imposed, wholesale energy prices have gone higher than what PG&E was charging customers, and they are continuing to creep up. It said, for example, the utility is paying an average of $200 a megawatt hour for power -- close to four times the amount that can be billed to customers.

PG&E ended off $1.06, or 3.6%, to $28.31.

Prodigy Communications

(PRGY)

appointed Charles Roesslein, president and chief executive, to the additional position of board chairman.

Ever since its alliance with

SBC Communications

(SBC)

Prodigy has become the nation's largest provider of retail DSL broadband Internet access for consumers and small businesses. Prodigy Communications decreased 23 cents to $8.20.

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By the Numbers

The data on NYSE and Nasdaq percent winners and losers are filtered to exclude stocks whose previous day's volume was less than 25,000 shares; whose last price was less than 5; and whose net change was less than 1/2.

Dow point gain and loss data are based on New York closing prices and do not reflect late composite trading.

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