Updated from 11:19 a.m.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

News Corp.

(NWS) - Get Report

are said to be in talks for the software behemoth to invest more than $1 billion in News Corp.'s

Sky Global Networks

unit,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

A deal of that size would give Microsoft a 3.5% stake in the satellite-TV unit. Also, an investment would give News Corp. some help in raising cash through a round of private placement for the unit. News Corp. wanted to take Sky Global public, but pushed back an offering until next year because of the volatile tech sector.

News Corp. talked to such other potential investors for Sky Global, including

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

,

Vivendi

(V) - Get Report

and

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

.

Microsoft closed up $1.38, or 2%, to $69.06, and News Corp. was up $1, or 2.4%, to $42.19.

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 73 cents a share, in line with the 12-analyst estimate and a penny better than year-ago earnings.

The communications provider, formed through the merger of

Bell Atlantic

and

GTE

, said third-quarter 1999 results have been adjusted to include

Vodafone's

(VOD) - Get Report

U.S. wireless properties that were combined into

Verizon Wireless

this year.

Quarter revenue was $16.5 billion, up from $15.4 billion last year. The company added 806,000 Verizon Wireless customers, giving Verizon Wireless a total of 26.3 million customers. Wireless revenues for the quarter were $4.1 billion, 17.6% higher than in last year's third quarter.

Verizon closed up $2.31, or 4.4%, to $55.38, and Vodafone was down 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $41.81.

Verizon also said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of between 76 cents to 78 cents a share and revenue growth in 2001 of 8% to 10%. Analysts on average expect fourth-quarter earnings of 77 cents a share, $2.92 a share in 2000 and $3.07 in 2001.

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Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Primedia

(PRM)

, publisher of

Seventeen

,

New York

and

Modern Bride

is buying

About.com

(BOUT) - Get Report

in a $690 million deal.

Shareholders of About.com, a Web site built around content areas headed by individual guides, will receive 2.3409 Primedia shares for each share of About.com. Primedia publishes many magazines, Web sites and other publications, such as apartment guides.

The deal values About.com, which closed at $23.88 on Friday, at $35.70 a share. Primedia closed at $15.25 on Friday. It had traded at $33.50 last March. About.com is also well off its earlier highs. It traded at $101.75 in mid-March. The companies said About.com has no debt and its cash holdings total $133 million.

Primedia closed down $3.81, or 25%, to $11.44; About.com was up 31 cents, or 1.3%, to $24.19.

After Friday's Close

TeleCorp PCS

(TLCP)

,

AT&T's

(T) - Get Report

largest wireless affiliate, won conditional approval from the Federal Communications Commission to acquire another affiliate,

Tritel

(TTEL)

, in a deal worth $1.1 billion.

The two AT&T affiliates will operate under the TeleCorp PCS name, but sell service under the name

SunCom

. As a condition of the FCC approval, they will have to sell certain assets in Bowling Green-Glasgow and Daviess County, Ky.

AT&T, which will have a 23% stake in the new company, will extend its initial five-year brand-sharing agreement for an additional two years upon the closing of the merger. It is expected to close before the end of the year.

TeleCorp PCS closed flat at $14.13; AT&T was up 63 cents, or 2.8%, to $22.63, and Tritel was up 13 cents, or 1.2%, to $10.69.

DTE Energy

(DTE) - Get Report

and

MCN Energy

(MCN) - Get Report

said it's unlikely that their proposed merger transaction will close by the end of the year.

The companies said they continue to work with the

Federal Trade Commission

to seek approval for the merger deal. The FTC has raised concerns regarding possible competition between DTE Energy and MCN for cogeneration load and other gas/electric displacement technologies in the companies' coincident retail/distribution areas. The companies have proposed transferring a property interest in MCN to a unit of

Exelon

(EXC) - Get Report

to satisfy the agency's concerns.

DTE closed up 44 cents, or 1.2%, to $36.31; MCN was down 13 cents, or 0.5%, to $24.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Accredo Health

(ACDO)

reported first-quarter earnings of 21 cents a share, 2 cents better than the 13-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 13 cents a share. Accredo closed down $3.56, or 8.9%, to $36.31.

Baker Hughes

(BHI)

posted third-quarter earnings of 21 cents a share, beating the 26-analyst estimate of 15 cents and up from year-ago earnings of 5 cents a share. Baker Hughes closed up $1.25, or 3.9%, to $33.69.

CVS

(CVS) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of 36 cents a share, a penny better than the 15-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 30 cents a share. CVS closed up $6.31, or 13.6%, to $52.81.

Enterprise Products

(EPD) - Get Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 60 cents a share, beating the nine-analyst estimate of 48 cents a share, up from year-ago earnings of 47 cents a share. Enterprise Products closed up 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $26.06.

Globalstar Telecommunications

(GSTRF)

reported a third-quarter loss of $1, 10 cents wider than the five-analyst estimate. The year-ago loss was 20 cents a share.

The company said the rate of subscriber and usage growth at the company is steady, but "unacceptably slow." During the latest third quarter, the company recorded 2.3 million minutes of mobile and fixed billable service, double the second-quarter usage. The estimated number of mobile subscribers at the end of the third quarter was 21,300, nearly double the subscriber count at the end of the second quarter, Globalstar said.

The disappointing earnings, as well as news that its chief financial backer,

Loral Space & Communications

(LOR) - Get Report

, said it would provide no more cash sparked

Merrill Lynch

TST Recommends

and

Credit Suisse First Boston

to slash the stock's rating to sell. Merrill's previous rating on the stock was neutral, while CSFB's had been hold.

Globalstar closed down $3.63, or 60.4%, to $2.38. Wow. Loral ended the day down 19 cents, or 3.6%, to $5.

Mercury General

(MCY) - Get Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 50 cents a share, a penny better than the six-analyst estimate, but down from year-ago earnings of 59 cents a share. Mercury General closed up $1.56, or 5.1%, to $32.

Pennzoil-Quaker State

(PZL)

posted third-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share, a penny better than the three-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 7 cents a share. Pennzoil closed up $1.63, or 16.4%, to $11.56.

Pharmacia

(PHA)

reported third-quarter earnings of 33 cents a share, in line with the 16-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 21 cents a share. The stock ended the day down $2, or 3.7%, to $52.63.

After Friday's Close

Avant!

(AVNT)

posted third-quarter earnings of 45 cents a share, in line with the four-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 37 cents. Avant! closed down $2, or 11.8%, to $15.

Cleco

(CNL)

reported third-quarter earnings of $1.26 a share, beating the three-analyst estimate of $1.11 and up from year-ago earnings of $1.07 a share. Cleco closed up $1.06, or 2.3%, to $48.19.

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Analyst actions

Lehman Brothers

revised its global portfolio, raising cyclicals to overweight, but cutting defensives to neutral and financials to underweight.

The firm said it believes that while global growth will slow, the market will avoid a recession. Cyclicals are discounting a gloomier outcome for activity and so offer attractive value. Financials were downgraded, the firm said, because they were priced for peak profitability, which may prove difficult to sustain in an economic slowdown.

Also, Lehman lowered

Cisco's

(CSCO) - Get Report

12-month price target to between $60 and $65 from $90 because of concerns about capital expenditures spending. Cisco closed down $2.63, or 5.2%, to $48.06.

Upgrades

Avnet

(AVT) - Get Report

: 2001 EPS estimate UP to $3.48 from $3.23 at

Credit Suisse First Boston

; and 2002 EPS estimate at $4.17. Avnet closed up 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $26.63.

Chubb

(CB) - Get Report

: 12-month price target UP to $90 from $87 at

UBS Warburg

. Chubb closed up $4.69, or 5.8%, to $85.94.

Ensco

(ESV)

: UP to strong buy from buy at CSFB. Ensco closed up 94 cents, or 2.9%, to $32.94.

Gilead Sciences

(GILD) - Get Report

: UP to strong buy from buy at

Banc of America

. Gilead closed up $2.38, or 2.9%, to $84.75.

Medtronic

(MDT) - Get Report

: 12-month price target UP to $65 from $56 at CSFB. Medtronic closed up $1.69, or 3.3%, to $53.56.

Teco

(TE)

: UP to buy from hold at CSFB. Teco ended the day up 69 cents, or 2.5%, to $28.06.

UnitedHealth Group

(UNH) - Get Report

: 2000 EPS view UP to $4.15 from $4.09 at

ABN Amro

; and 2001 EPS view UP to $4.90 from $4.76. Also, 12-month price target UP to $138 from $115 at

Goldman Sachs

and 2001 EPS view to $5 from $4.80. Lehman raised the company's 2001 EPS view to $4.15 from $4.07 and 2001 EPS view to $4.85 from $4.70. UnitedHealth closed up $6.31, or 5.8%, to $116.

Downgrades

CNH Global

(CNH)

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at CSFB. CNH closed flat at $8.63.

John Hancock

(JHF)

: DOWN to neutral from accumulate at

Merrill Lynch

. John Hancock closed up $1.44, or 4.9%, to $31.

Solutia

(SOI) - Get Report

: 2000 EPS view DOWN to $1.20 from $1.25 at UBS Warburg. Solutia ended the day up 88 cents, or 7.2%, to $13.

Initiations

Grant Prideco

(GRP)

: NEW buy at CSFB; 12-month price target: $25. Grant Prideco closed down 19 cents, or 1%, to $18.50.

New Power

(NPW)

: NEW buy at CSFB; and NEW buy at

Salomon Smith Barney

with price target of $26. The stock closed down $2.88, or 16.1%, to $15.

Oplink

(OPLK)

: NEW 12-month price target: $40 at UBS Warburg. Oplink closed down $5.13, or 18.4%, to $22.69.

Group Moves

Deustsche Banc Alex. Brown

upgraded paper stocks:

  • Bowater (BOW) : UP to strong buy from buy. Bowater closed up $5.44, or 11%, to $54.38.
  • International Paper (IP) - Get Report: UP to strong buy from buy. IP closed up $2.75, or 8.3%, to $36.
  • Georgia-Pacific (GP) : UP to buy from market perform. The stock ended the day up $2.63, or 10.8%, to $26.88.
  • Mead (MEA) : UP to strong buy from market perform. Mead closed up $2, or 7.4%, to $29.
  • Smurfit-Stone Container (SSCC) : UP to strong buy from market perform. Smurfit-Stone ended the day higher by $1.75, or 15.1%, to $13.31.
  • Willamette Industries (WLL) - Get Report: UP to buy from market perform. Willamette closed up $2.94, or 8.95%, to $35.75.
  • Weyerhaeuser (WY) - Get Report: UP to buy from market perform. The stock closed up $2.94, or 6.8%, to $45.94.

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Miscellany

After Friday's Close

Visteon

(VC) - Get Report

received a preliminary injunction from the Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts prohibiting

Lernout & Hauspie

(LHSP)

from taking any action with any company other than Visteon to develop, market, license or sell voice services for automotive applications.

Visteon filed the action to enforce the joint venture agreement the companies signed May 25, in which the parties agreed to exclusively work together to combine Visteon's expertise in automotive speech design and integration and Lernout & Hauspie's range of speech technologies for automotive applications.

Lernout & Hauspie said license agreements were never agreed upon or executed, the joint venture wasn't funded, the venture hasn't started operations, and that it had informed Visteon that, among other things, Lernout wouldn't agree to its license terms.

Lernout's been plagued with problems, including an

earnings warning and a

Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

Visteon closed up 75 cents, or 4.6%, to $17; L&H was up $1.56, or 24.8%, to $7.88.

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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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