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Stocks to Watch: Oracle's Earnings Soar; Yahoo!, eBay Reportedly in Talks

E.piphany to buy privately held Octane Software.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share, beating the

First Call/Thomson Financial

31-analyst estimate of 13 cents and up from the year-ago 9-cent profit. The software maker said that sales increased 18% to $2.45 billion from $2.08 billion. Oracle said it was able to slash costs by $1 billion through the efficient use of its own database software.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint venture newsroom wrote about Oracle's earnings in a story

yesterday. In the wake of the report,

Warburg Dillon Read

raised its price target on the stock to 100 from 85.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

raised its 2000 earning estimates to 71 cents from 56 cents, and its 2001 estimates to 80 cents from 66 cents.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

are negotiating a possible pact or merger,

CNBC

reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, the

Financial Times

reported, citing people familiar with the situation, that the talks between the two companies, which it said were preliminary in nature, ended last week.

According to

CNBC

, there is a 50-50 chance for a pact between the two Internet giants, with a "significantly" smaller chance that Yahoo! would wholly acquire eBay.

CNBC

reported that sources said negotiations heated up after

America Online

(AOL)

said it would buy

Time Warner

(TWX)

, but that no definitive agreement has been set.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

E.piphany

(EPNY)

, an e-commerce software concern, is buying privately held

Octane Software

for a little more than $3 billion in stock. Under terms of the deal, E.piphany will issue 12.8 million shares of stock to Octane shareholders.

The

European Commission

has extended the date for it to rule on the planned merger of

Pharmacia & Upjohn

(PNU)

and

Monsanto

(MTC) - Get Report

,

Reuters

said.

Research in Motion

(RIMM)

signed a deal with Canada's largest wireless provider,

Rogers AT&T Wireless

, to distribute BlackBerry Internet Edition in Canada. As part of the pact, Rogers AT&T Wireless placed an initial order for 10,000 BlackBerry Handhelds. BlackBerry Internet Edition offers customers a single-mailbox, mobile solution with both wireless and Web-based access to email. Research In Motion is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of wireless solutions for the mobile communications market.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Talbots

(TLB)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate of 46 cents and up from the year-ago 26 cents. The company said it expects to accelerate its store-opening program this year, with plans calling for opening about 52 new stores and to be operating about 720 stores by the end of the fiscal year.

Amphenol

(APH) - Get Report

said it sees first-quarter earnings between 85 cents and 88 cents a share, well above the three-analyst estimate of 74 cents. The company also approved a 2-for-1 stock split.

Goody's Family Clothing

(GDYS)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 3 cents a share, in line with the three-analyst estimate, but down from the year-ago 25 cents. The company expects earnings for the first half of fiscal 2000 to be weaker than that of the first half of fiscal 1999, while earnings for the second half of fiscal 2000, are projected to exceed those of the second half of 1999.

State Street

(STT) - Get Report

said it is achieving strong first-quarter revenue growth and expects earnings-per-share-growth to top the year-ago rate of 16%.

Whirlpool

(WHR) - Get Report

said it confirmed consensus estimates for 2000. The current 10-analyst estimate is $6.24 a share.

Williams-Sonoma

(WSM) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 82 cents a share, a penny better than the 16-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 75 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Vignette's

(VIGN)

board approved a 3-for-1 stock split.

Robertson Stephens

priced a 4.5 million-share IPO for

Loudeye

(LOUD)

above its expected range of $13 to $15 at $16 a share.

Analyst actions

Credit Suisse First Boston

upgraded

Amgen

TheStreet Recommends

(AMGN) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy.

Warburg Dillon Read

upgraded

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy.

PaineWebber

lowered its price target on

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

to 68 from 74.

Banc of America Securities

raised

Compaq

(CPQ)

to strong buy from buy.

Lehman Brothers

lowered

Cordant Technologies

(CDD)

to neutral from a buy rating.

J.P. Morgan

started coverage of

Drugstore.com

(DSCM)

with a buy rating and a price target of 35.

J.P. Morgan began coverage of

Enersis

(ENI)

with a long-term buy rating and a 12-month price target of 24 per ADR.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

upgraded

Fiat

(FIA)

to market performance from underperform.

Lehman Brothers

upped its 12-month price target on

Kulicke & Soffa

(KLIC) - Get Report

to 98 from 82.

Warburg Dillon Read initiated coverage of

Magic Software

(MGIC) - Get Report

at buy with a price target of 44.

DLJ started coverage of

Marsh & McLennan

(MMC) - Get Report

with a buy rating.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

lifted

Partner Communications'

(PTNR) - Get Report

price target to 28.80 from 24.70.

Miscellany

Sears

(S) - Get Report

is quietly searching for a successor to long-serving chairman, CEO and president Arthur Martinez,

The Wall Street Journal

reported, citing sources familiar with the situation. According to the story, Martinez instigated the search and is part of the process.

Enzo Biochem

(ENZ) - Get Report

said it received a patent from the

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

that covers nucleic acid compositions and methods for editing and correcting certain abnormalities in genes.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

said it unveiled two products with record data storage capacity.

Metris

(MXT)

, a direct marketing concern, said its chairman, Ted Deikel, is retiring effective May 8.

Praxair

(PX)

said that John A. Clerico, executive vice president, chief financial officer and a Praxair director, will step down from those posts effective April 1. Clerico will become CEO of a new Internet-based concern to be initially funded and sponsored by Praxair.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

said that after a short flurry of activity in the wake of Monday's announcement that

Tribune

(TRB)

is buying

Times Mirror

(TMC)

, the stocks of newspaper publishers since then haven't done much. The column quotes Lee Westerfield, publishing analyst at

PaineWebber

, as saying: "Nothing about this deal forces anyone else to sell."