Stocks to Watch: Applied Materials Beats Estimates, Sets 2-for-1 Split - TheStreet

Applied Materials (AMAT) - Get Report posted first-quarter earnings of 80 cents a share, beating the 28-analyst estimate of 77 cents and up from the year-ago 12 cents. The company also set a 2-for-1 stock split. Credit Suisse First Boston raised its earnings estimates on Applied Materials and upped its price target to 225 from 185.

Applied Materials chairman and CEO James Morgan attributed strong demand and orders for the better-than-expected results. "Typically, their guidance is understated," said Brian Gilmartin, a portfolio manager at

Trinity Asset Management

. This quarter, they shot the lights out. Their demand trends are firmly in place and a backlog 2.3 billion portends good things."

Gilmartin noted that last year, Applied Materials was responsible for 25% of the industry's revenues.

CheckFree Holdings

(CKFR)

is buying

TransPoint

for $1 billion in stock. TransPoint is an electronic billing and payment joint venture between

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

First Data

(FDC) - Get Report

.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Akamai

(AKAM) - Get Report

said it is in an alliance to deploy its services within

America Online's

(AOL)

network.

Be Free

(BFRE)

said it will buy

TriVida

for 1.56 million shares or about $170 million.

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

said it will acquire

Growth Networks

for $355 million

Danaher

(DHR) - Get Report

will acquire

American Precision

(APR)

for about $250 million. Danaher said it would pay $19.25 a share in cash for American Precision.

TheStreet.com Inc.

(TSCM)

, the publisher of this Web site, has hired

Wasserstein Perella

to explore strategic alternatives, including a potential sale of the company, the

Journal

reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The

Journal

reported that in recent days, TheStreet.com has been shopped to other Net companies, citing a person familiar with the matter, while another person said the company had been approached by a would-be acquirer. The

Journal

said TheStreet.com and Wasserstein Perella separately declined to comment.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.

)

Ace

(ACL)

posted fourth-quarter earnings excluding items of 52 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 16-analyst estimate but down from the year-ago operating earnings of 55 cents.

Analog Devices

(ADI) - Get Report

reported first-quarter earnings of 50 cents a share, beating the 20-analyst estimate of 45 cents and the year-ago 18 cents a share. The company set a 2-for-1 stock split. The company said second-quarter revenues could total $535 million to $545 million and EPS in the range of 55 cents to 57 cents, above the 19-analyst estimate of 48 cents.

Equitable Resources

(EQT) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 79 cents, better than the 10-analyst estimate of 76 cents and the year-ago 11 cents.

Lycos

(LCOS)

reported second-quarter earnings last night of 3 cents a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate of a penny and up from the year-ago report of a 2-cent loss.

Modis Professional Services

(MPS)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 12-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 9 cents a share.

SmithKline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Report

, which plans to merge with

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

, reported 1999 pretax profit rose 13% to $3.14 billion. Separately, Glaxo reported pretax profits for 1999 of about $4.4 billion.

TD Waterhouse

(TWE)

posted first-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share, well above the nine-analyst estimate of 8 cents and the year-ago 9 cents. The company said the customer assets in the latest quarter rose 57% to more than $150 billion, while new account openings rose 56% to 260,000, before acquisitions from 167,000 account openings a year ago.

Offerings and stock actions

Analog Devices

(ADI) - Get Report

set a 2-for-1 stock split. The company said second-quarter revenues could total $535 million to $545 million and EPS in the range of 55 cents to 57 cents, above the 19-analyst estimate of 48 cents.

Ask Jeeves

(ASKJ)

said it filed for a $150 million stock offering. The company said $100 million would be sold by the company,while $50 million will come from shareholders.

CompuCredit

(CCRT)

priced an offering of 4.6 million shares at $33.50 each.

Merrill Lynch

priced 3.65 million shares of

LendingTree

(TREE) - Get Report

at $12 each, the top of the estimated $10 to $12 range. The Charolotte, N.C.-based company allows consumers to compare and apply for various personal loans online.

Analyst Actions

Merrill Lynch

reinstated coverage of

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

at a buy and set a price target of 70.

Credit Suisse First Boston

raised its price target on

ADC Telecommunications

(ADCT) - Get Report

to 50 from 40.

First Boston downgraded

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

to buy from strong buy and lowered its 12-month target price to 30 from 42.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

downgraded Abercrombie to buy from strong buy.

Merrill reinstated coverage of

BellSouth

(BLS)

at a buy and set a price target of 60.

Bear Stearns

started coverage of

Deere

(DE) - Get Report

with a buy rating and set a 55 price target on the stock.

First Boston upgraded

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

to buy from hold.

Bear Stearns started coverage of

Network Appliance

(NTAP) - Get Report

with a buy rating and set a 200 price target on the stock.

First Boston initiated coverage of

PurchasePro.com

(PPRO)

with a strong buy rating and placed a 12-month price target of 205 on the stock.

First Boston raised its earnings estimates and raised its near-term price target on

Razorfish

(RAZF)

to 75. Razorfish yesterday posted fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 10-analyst estimate and up from the year ago 3 cents.

Merrill reinstated coverage of

Reynolds Metals

(RLM) - Get Report

with an intermediate and long-term buy rating.

Merrill reinstated coverage of

SBC Communications

(SBC)

with a buy rating and set a price target of 65.

Miscellany

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

has told lawmakers that any breakup of the company would be a "regulatory death sentence," the

Journal

reported. However, the software titan did signal that it would accept some "common sense" restrictions in an effort to settle the government's antitrust claims against it, the

Journal

reported.

Thousands of tobacco farmers are expected to file suit in federal court today alleging tobacco companies have set out to negate a government-administered system designed to prop up prices for tobacco leaf, the

Journal

reported. The newspaper said the suit is expected to seek $69 billion in damages.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

says the latest craze to sweep the daytrading world, is snapping up shares of companies that make "fuel cells," huge batteries capable of powering a house, or even a factory, for long periods without recharging. Mentioned among some stocks which have jumped as a result, are

Plug Power

(PLUG) - Get Report

,

FuelCell Energy

(FCL)

and

Astropower

(APWR)

.

For analysis of the market's preopen tone and trends, see the Wake-Up Call, now published separately.