Publish date:

Stocks to Watch: Goldman Prices 3Com's Palm IPO Above Expected Range

WellPoint, ING America launch a takeover bid for Aetna.

Goldman Sachs

priced a 23 million-share IPO for

3Com's

(COMS)

Palm

(PALM)

unit at $38 a share, above the expected range of $30 to $32.

Meanwhile,

ABN AMRO

initiated coverage of Palm -- which begins trading today -- with a buy rating and set a $90 price target on the stock.

3Com will receive 532 million shares from the offering and will divest the shares within six months by handing them over to its stockholders. (

TheStreet.com

looked at a fund offering its lucky investors a piece of the Palm IPO in a separate

story.)

Aetna

(AET)

said

WellPoint Health Networks

(WLP)

and

ING America Insurance Holdings

, a unit of

ING Groep

(ING) - Get Report

launched a $10.2 billion takeover bid for Aetna, one day before Aetna ousted its CEO and began examining its operations. Aetna said WellPoint and ING America Insurance Holdings made a $70-a-share offer, which included $44 in cash and $26 in WellPoint stock. Last night, WellPoint and ING confirmed they were interested in Aetna.

For more on the Aetna situation, take a look at the

story written by

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

The

European Commission

is anticipated to block the proposed three-way aluminum industry combination of

Alcan

(AL) - Get Report

,

Pechiney

(PY) - Get Report

and

Alusuisse

because of competition concerns, according to published reports.

Qwest Communications'

(Q)

largest shareholder is believed to back a possible get-together of Qwest and Germany's

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. The newspaper, citing people close to the situation, said that Deutsche Telekom Chairman Ron Sommer has held discussions with Qwest execs, including Philip Anschutz, the company's nonexecutive chairman, who owns 39% of the company. The

Journal

reported that he is believed to be on board for a possible sale of the company.

Silicon Graphics

(SGI)

said it will sell its

Cray Supercomputer

business to

Tera Computer

(TERA)

.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(Earnings estimates are from First Call/Thomson Financial.)

Ann Taylor

(ANN)

said February same-store sales rose 1.7%.

Costco Wholesale

(COST) - Get Report

posted second-quarter net income of 39 cents a share, in line with the 22-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 33 cents.

Dillard's

(DDS) - Get Report

said its February same-store sales were flat.

Federated Department Stores

said February same-store sales rose 5.3%.

Goody's Family Clothing

(GDYS)

said February same-store sales rose 4%, and announced some changes to its accounting methods. The company has adopted certain accounting changes related to sales returns and leased departments. Goody's said the changes won't have an impact on the company's annual net earnings for fiscal 1998 and fiscal 1999. However, Goody's said its previously issued statements of operations for the four quarters of fiscal 1998 and the first three quarters of fiscal 1999 will be restated to account for these changes. Goody's said the change will either increase or decrease some previously reported quarterly net earnings by a penny a share.

J.C. Penney's

(JCP) - Get Report

same-store sales fell 2.4%.

Neiman Marcus'

(NMG.A)

February same-store sales rose 11.2%.

RSL Communications

(RSLC)

posted a fourth-quarter loss of $2.00 a share including items. The six-analyst estimate called for a loss of $1.43, while the year-ago loss was $1.33. The company said it was exploring options for certain nonstrategic assets and also seeks to better focus on core European and U.S. operations.

Sears'

(S) - Get Report

February domestic same-store sales rose 3.1%.

Sotheby's

(BID) - Get Report

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 57 cents a share, beating the three-analyst estimate of 55 cents, but lower than the year-ago 66 cents.

Staples

TST Recommends

(SPLS)

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 28 cents a share, in line with the 21-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 22 cents.

TJX

(TJX) - Get Report

said February same-store sales rose 4%.

Wal-Mart's

(WMT) - Get Report

February same-store sales rose 6.1%.

Thanks to an extra shopping day last month,

TeleCheck

said February same-store sales by retailers across the nation rose 4.8%. TeleCheck, a unit of

First Data

, is a check acceptance company.

Offerings and stock actions

Fairfield Communities

(FFD)

said its board approved the repurchase of up to $60 million in stock.

Metromedia Fiber's

(MFNX)

board approved a 2-for-1 stock split.

Analyst actions

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown started coverage of

Bed Bath & Beyond

(BBBY) - Get Report

with a strong buy rating.

Alex. Brown raised

Bristol-Myers

(BMY) - Get Report

to buy from market perform.

Alex. Brown initiated coverage of

Cost Plus

(CPWM)

with a strong buy rating.

Thomas Weisel Partners

analyst Perry Boyle increased estimates on

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

to a loss of 9 cents from a loss of 12 cents a share in the first quarter, and to earnings of 10 cents from an expected loss of 8 cents for the year.

Warburg Dillon Read

initiated coverage of

EMC

(EMC)

with a buy rating.

SG Cowen

said it started

FirePond

(FIRE)

with a buy rating and set a price target of 125.

Merrill Lynch

upgraded

Health Management Associates

(HMA)

to intermediate-term buy from accumulate.

Credit Suisse First Boston

said it raised

HNC Software's

(HNCS)

target price to 175 from 125.

Merrill initiated coverage of

Precision Drilling

(PDS) - Get Report

with intermediate-term and long-term buy ratings and set a 12-month price target on the stock of $45.

Alex. Brown upgraded

Proxicom

(PXCM)

to strong buy from buy.

Thomas Weisel analyst Eric Ross raised the price target on

Veeco Instruments

(VECO) - Get Report

to 130 from 95.

Alex. Brown started coverage of

Williams-Sonoma

(WSM) - Get Report

with a buy rating and set a 37 price target on the stock.

Miscellany

Personal financial information keyed into

Intuit's

(INTU) - Get Report

Quicken

Web site has been seeping out to advertisers, and the company has moved rapidly to address the problem, the

Journal

reported.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

looks at

Salomon Smith Barney's

progress in extracting extra securities business from

Citicorp's

roster of banking clients. Both are units of

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, created by the merger of Travelers Group and Citicorp in 1998. Wall Street wants to know whether the year-old financial supermarket will become the new model for other banks and securities firms, the story says.

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