Updated from 8:17 p.m. ET Monday

The market is eagerly awaiting



first-quarter earnings report that is slated for after the close on Tuesday -- especially now that a well-known e-commerce analyst has turned loving eyes toward the beleaguered name-your-own price Web outfit.

Shares of priceline took off in preopen trading after

Goldman Sachs

analyst Anthony Noto upgraded the company's shares to market outperformer from market performer, saying the change was prompted by an "improved outlook as management has 'right sized' the business, improved customer service and stabilized growth."

Noto's research note said the company is "still in a turnaround phase," but that the first quarter could be the last unprofitable quarter for the company. The company is scheduled to report first-quarter results after the market closes on Tuesday. Noto further wrote that first-quarter results should show that the worst is behind the company.

The company reaffirmed its guidance on April 2, saying it expects first-quarter revenue to rise 15% to 20%. The company also projected a first-quarter loss of 5 cents to 7 cents a share. Analysts polled by

Thomson Financial/First Call

are expecting priceline.com to lose 5 cents in the first quarter, with revenue of $279.8 million.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

British Telecommunications


confirmed that it is in talks with rival


(VOD) - Get Report

to sell its 20% stake in

Japan Telecom

, the No. 3 carrier in Japan, for $4.3 billion. BT also said it might dump its 18% share of Spain's


for a few billion greenbacks.

After Monday's Close

Software giant


(MSFT) - Get Report

said Monday that it has acquired e-commerce software company

NCompass Labs

. Current clients of NCompass include

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report



(TX) - Get Report

and the

Royal Canadian Mint



(MSTR) - Get Report

announced that it has inked a multimillion dollar licensing agreement with

FleetBoston Financial

( FBF). The company said that FleetBoston will use its business software to enable employees to view customers' transaction history.

In addition, the company reported first-quarter results that beat analysts lowered expectations and projected that second-quarter numbers would surpass current analysts' estimates. The company posted a quarterly loss of 29 cents a share, compared with a six-analyst consensus estimate of a loss of 33 cents.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Wireless company

Nextel Communications

( NXTL), the biggest independent U.S. mobile phone operator, posted a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss amid the slowing U.S. economy, and said it would cut 5% of its workers.

Nextel reported a loss of $428 million, or 56 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $435 million, or 59 cents a share. Analysts on average had expected the company to report a loss of 51 cents a share.

Consumer products giant

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

, the maker of Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste, posted third-quarter earnings that rose to 71 cents a share from 64 cents a share a year ago, excluding restructuring charges.

That beat the Street's consensus estimate of 69 cents a share. The company recently said it was considering selling its Jif peanut butter and Crisco oil brands since the products have become a drag on the company's financial health.

After Monday's Close

Online travel agency


(EXPE) - Get Report

posted its first quarterly profit, one year ahead of schedule. The company, which is backed by Microsoft, posted third-quarter earnings of 9 cents a share. The Seattle-based company also said that it expects fourth-quarter profits to exceed expectations.

Semiconductor equipment maker

Rudolph Technologies

(RTEC) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates by 2 cents. Revenue for the quarter rose to $30.6 million, compared with $15.8 million in the year-ago period.


( TEK), a maker of electronic testing equipment, warned of an earnings shortfall for its fiscal fourth quarter, citing a slowdown in its targeted industries -- particularly semiconductors and communications. Capital spending in the electronic design industry was also a contributing factor.

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Analyst actions

Merrill Lynch

lowered its estimates on


(DELL) - Get Report

on Tuesday. The firm lowered its sales projections to $8.1 billion, from $8.375 billion for the first quarter and dropped its earnings expectation by a penny to 17 cents a share. For fiscal 2002, Merrill expects sales of $34.1 billion, down from its previous forecast of $37.1 billion. The firm lowered its earnings forecast to 68 cents a share from 82 cents a share and also cut its expectation for fiscal 2003.

Merrill reiterated its hold rating on Dell, but cut its price target to $32 from $34.

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Corrections and Clarifications.