(Updated from 4:08 p.m. EDT)

News that

Viant

(VIAN)

would post a third-quarter loss, with revenue predicted to fall 12% to 15% from last quarter's $38.5 million has sparked a series of downgrades for the firm and the broader Internet consulting sector. (See below.)

The 14-analyst estimate called for Viant to come in at 8 cents a share, and year-ago earnings were 3 cents. The company attributed the earnings shortfall to the market's move away from "dot-com driven demand" of past quarters.

TheStreet.com

detailed Viant's warning in an

earlier story. Viant stumbled $5.69, or 41%, to $8.19

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

First Union

(FTU)

declined 52 cents to $28.44 after announcing that it signed a definitive agreement to acquire

JWGenesis

(JWG)

, a retail stockbroker with offices in 34 states. According to the deal, First Union will pay between $10 and $12 in cash for each JWGenesis share, totaling between $90 million and $110 million. The acquisition is subject to JWGenesis shareholder approval. JWGenesis fell $4.81, or 32.4%, to $10.06

Wyndham International

(WYN)

announced it would sell its

Malmaison

hotels in England and Scotland to

Marylebone Warwick Balfour Group

for $112.5 million. Wyndham International tacked on 13 cents to $2.19

After Thursday's Close

Fifth Third Bancorp

(FITB) - Get Report

shed 75 cents to $45.44 after saying it would pay $160.2 million for

Ottawa Financial

(OFCP)

and its

AmeriBank

unit. The deal calls for Ottawa shareholders to receive a 0.54 share of Fifth Third Bancorp common stock for each share of Ottawa Financial stock.

Sanmina

(SANM) - Get Report

agreed to buy

Lucent's

(LU)

San Jose

system integration and fulfillment operations. Terms were not disclosed. About 141 employees in the Lucent operation will become Sanmina employees. Sanmina slipped $2.31 to $115.69.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

ADC

(ADCT) - Get Report

slid 94 cents to $40 after it said it would pay former

Centigram

stockholders an extra $2.33 a share after the period to return 900,000 shares of Centigram common stock expires. The payment is in addition to the $24.12 a share that ADC initially paid the Centigram owners after ADC bought their stock in June.

Atlantic Coast Airlines Holdings

(ACAI)

fell $3.38, or 10.6%, to $28.38 after announcing that public reaction to

United Airlines'

(UAL) - Get Report

troubles was expected to hurt its own third- and fourth-quarter earnings. The company anticipates third-quarter earnings between 30 cents to 35 cents a share and fourth-quarter earnings between 45 cents and 55 cents a share. UAL was off 75 cents to $47.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive

(DTG)

, which ended the day down $2.94, or about 13%, to $19.69, said it was comfortable with the six-analyst third-quarter earning estimate of $1.36 a share, as well as the six-analyst earnings estimate of $3.13 for the full year.

Dollar Thrifty's projection comes on the same day that rival

Avis Group

(AVI)

said it was still comfortable with third- and fourth-quarter earnings estimates. The announcement came a day after

Hertz

(HRZ)

lowered its earnings expectations for the same quarters. The seven-analyst estimates for Avis were $1.31 for the third quarter and 30 cents a share for the fourth quarter.

Hertz said it now expects third-quarter earnings of $1.30 a share and fourth-quarter results of 51 cents. The eight-analyst estimates for the company's third and fourth quarters were $1.43 and 63 cents, respectively.

Credit Suisse First Boston

cut Hertz to hold from a buy on the news. Avis was 56 cents lower to $30.19, while Hertz dropped $4.81, or 15.7%, to $25.81.

Insurance claims administrator

INSpire Insurance Solutions

(NSPR) - Get Report

announced that it has canceled its outsourcing agreement with

Island Insurance

and, as a result, expects to lose $9 million a year. The stock slid 13 cents, or 5%, to $2.38.

Cast-metal components maker

Intermet

(INMT)

lost 6 cents to $7.69 after saying that third-quarter earnings would fall short of expectations because of "serious production problems" in two of its plants. The company expects to come in at 18 cents a share. Wall Street had predicted earnings of 36 cents a share.

Material Sciences

(MSC) - Get Report

was down 50 cents to $10 on news that it expects results for the second quarter to be about 12 cents a diluted share, compared with 28 cents in the year-ago period. It also said it has retained

Credit Suisse First Boston

to explore strategic alternatives for its

Pinhole Point Steel

subsidiary.

Minolta-QMS

(MQC)

shot up 65%, or $1.94, to $4.94, after saying its parent company ,

Minolta

, had offered to buy its outstanding shares through a tender offer and cash-out merger.

Precision Drilling

(PDS) - Get Report

rose $2.25, or 6.7%, to $36, even though it warned that its third-quarter revenue would be lower than expected because of poor weather and a delay in drilling plans from some of its key customers.

Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

moved up $1.06 to $37.69 after saying its

same-store sales had increased 10%, and consolidated net revenue had increased 35%.

Wind River

(WIND)

posted second-quarter earnings of 10 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst estimate and in line with year-ago earnings. Wind River jumped $7.50, or 18.4%, to $48.25.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

dropped $7.56, or 6.2%, to $113.94 after saying that -- as a result of its acquisition of

eGroups

-- it would take a one-time $25 million charge against third-quarter earnings. The company said it would exchange about 3.4 million shares of its stock for all of eGroups' outstanding shares and options.

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Analyst actions

On the heels of

Viant's

(VIAN)

third-quarter profit warning, the Internet consulting firm was hit with a slew of downgrades.

Lehman Brothers

lowered its rating on the company to neutral from buy.

SG Cowen

cut its recommendation to neutral from buy.

Goldman Sachs

lowered it to market performer from recommended list.

ING Barings

lowered the firm to buy from strong buy.

Credit Suisse First Boston

maintained its buy rating but cut its price target to $20 from $25.

In addition,

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

lowered its rating on the Internet consulting sector to market performance from outperformance. DLJ lowered its price target on the following companies:

  • Diamond Technology (DTPI) : Price target DOWN to $100 from $120. Diamond Technology fell $8.06, or 12.7%, to $55.75.
  • Scient (SCNT) : Price target DOWN to $48 from $112. Additional firms hacked their ratings on Scient: DOWN to neutral from buy at SG Cowen; DOWN to long-term accumulate from buy at Merrill Lynch; DOWN to hold from buy at ING Barings; and DOWN to outperform from buy at Lehman Brothers. Scient declined 5.06, or 18.7%, to 22.
  • MarchFirst (MRCH) : Price target DOWN to $41 from $54. MarchFirst slipped $1.31, or 6.8%, to $18.06.
  • Breakaway Solutions (BWAY) - Get Report: Price target DOWN to $22 from $50. Breakaway Solutions slid $1.88, or 12.6%, to $13.
  • Organic (OGNC) : Price target DOWN to $10 from $30. Organic stumbled 63 cents, or 8.7%, to $6.56.
  • IXL Enterprises (IIXL) : Price target DOWN to $20 from $44. Additionally, Merrill Lynch lowered its rating to long-term accumulate from buy. IXL lost $1.19, or 12.4%, to $8.38.
  • Xpedior (XPDR) : Price target DOWN to $15 from $28. Xpedior tacked on 6 cents to $10.81.

Downgrades

AXA Financial

(AXF)

: DOWN to neutral from buy at

PaineWebber

. It closed down $1.25 to $50.50.

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

: 2000 earnings estimate DOWN to $4.15 from $4.55 at ING Barings. It finished up 69 cents to $82.33

Cytyc

(CYTC)

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at

UBS Warburg

. Cytyc dropped $3.88, or 8.3%, to $42.75.

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Report

: DOWN to neutral from buy at Merrill Lynch; DOWN to sell from neutral at

George K. Baum

. It added 94 cents, or 5.2%, to close at $18.94.

Register.com

(RCOM)

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at

Banc of America Securities

. It fell $1.38, or 9.8%, to $12.63.

Initiations

Versicor

(VERS)

: NEW buy at Lehman Brothers. 12-month price target: $27. Versicor jumped $2.06, or 17.7%, to $13.75.

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Offerings and stock actions

El Paso Energy Partners

(EPN)

increased its quarterly dividend to 55 cents a share from almost 54 cents. It added 13 cents to close at $24.

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Miscellany

The

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

warned consumers about another 1.4 million tires in addition to the 6.5 million that

Bridgestone/Firestone

has already agreed to recall.

Renal Care Group

(RCGI)

closed an Ohio dialysis center after one patient died and 19 patients were hospitalized with high fevers after undergoing treatment there. Renal Care Group closed off 88 cents to $19.38.

In the wake of its failed merger plan with

Guilford Pharmaceuticals

(GLFD)

,

Gliatech

(GLIA)

replaced its chairman and named a new COO, Robert Pinkas. He becomes acting chairman, replacing Thomas Oesterling, who remains president and chief executive. Guilford Pharmaceuticals closed down $2.19, or 8.2%, to $24.56, while Gliatech finished up a penny to $8.03.

A federal court has ordered

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

to pay

Bristol Technology

$1 million in punitive damages. The court cited "wanton, reckless" and deceptive business practices against the Connecticut software-maker, the

Wall Street Journal

reported. Microsoft finished up 38 cents to $70.19.

The "Heard on the Street" column in the

Wall Street Journal

covered the impact of bearish comments in the wake of

Lehman Brothers

analyst Holly Becker's recent downgrade on the company's stock. According to the article, Becker's move raises the question of whether the bellwether's stock has hit a turning point.

After Thursday's Close

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

closed down 27 cents to $31.88 after announcing that the

Federal Trade Commission

has asked the company for more information on its plan to buy

Pillsbury

from

Diageo

(DEO) - Get Report

.

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Report

closed up 94 cents, or 5.2%, to $18.94 after announcing the resignation of CEO/Chairman John Whitacre. The company also said CFO Michael Stein would be leaving the company immediately. Nordstrom's board named Blake Nordstrom president and Bruce Nordstrom chairman. A search for a new CFO is pending. The reshuffling comes on the heels of earnings and sales disappointments.

TheStreet.com

covered the

shakeup in a separate story.

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