Kicking off another earnings-report-packed week,

Union Carbide

(UK)

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 68 cents a share, blowing past the 11-analyst estimate of 46 cents and the year-ago 49 cents, which included a gain of 31 cents. The company attributed the increase in its earnings to continuing high volumes, improved pricing at its basic chemicals and polymers unit and strengthening performance by its

Equate

and

Polimeri Europa

ventures.

Deluxe

(DLX) - Get Report

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 79 cents a share, ahead of the five-analyst forecast of 74 cents and the year-ago 71 cents. Deluxe confirmed it will separate its e-commerce and technology services businesses into a new company. A minority stake in the new company, to be called

eFunds

, will be sold to the public through an IPO.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

AIT Group

has agreed to provide an e-commerce infrastructure to

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

that will allow GE customers to access their accounts and carry out financial transactions via the Internet. AIT and

GE Equity Investments

signed a three-year option agreement under which AIT will transfer up to 608,800 shares, or just under 3% of current shares, to GE company.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

said it will buy 5% of

Audible

(ADBL)

in a deal valued at $18.3 million.

America Online

(AOL)

said it will take a stake in

Netcentives

(NCNT)

under a technology alliance.

El Paso Energy

(EPG)

said it agreed to buy the natural gas and natural gas liquids businesses owned by

PG&E

(PCG) - Get Report

for $840 million, including $561 million in debt.

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

is close to a deal with

Toyota

(TM) - Get Report

to offer GM's Onstar in-car communications system in Toyotas sold in the U.S.,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. Separately,

Investor AB

, the investment arm of Sweden's Wallberg family, said GM is paying $125 million to exercise its option to buy the group's 50% stake of Swedish auto group

Saab Automobile

.

British palm-top computer group

Psion

said it signed an agreement with

Motorola

(MOT)

to co-develop a range of mobile Internet access devices.

Vodafone AirTouch's

(VOD) - Get Report

campaign to win over the hearts of

Mannesmann

(MNNSY)

shareholders escalated another notch, as the British-U.S. phone operator announced a joint venture with France's

Vivendi

(VVDIY)

.

The two plan to create a European Web portal that would rival

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

AOL Europe

, a joint venture between

America Online

(AOL)

and

Bertelsmann

. They will also look at joining to form a pan-European telephone network.

But the alliance is contingent upon Vodafone winning control of Mannesmann, Germany's leading wireless company, which has repeatedly spurned Vodafone's advances.

Mannesmann brass remained opposed to Vodafone's $170 billion hostile takeover bid Sunday; investors have until Feb. 7 to decide. According to

The Wall Street Journal

, the move comes as Vodafone AirTouch and Mannesman have held stepped-up talks, although the two companies remain far apart on issues such as price, the story said, citing people familiar with the situation.

Royal Bank of Scotland

raised its offer for

National Westminster Bank

(NW)

, increasing the cash element of its bid and putting pressure on rival bidder

Bank of Scotland

to respond. NatWest responded to the revised offer by calling it a "bit of damp squib" (

whatever that is

) and saying it was still risky. Apparently undeterred by the cutting remark, Royal Bank of Scotland said it expected NatWest to recommend its takeover bid if a Feb. 14 vote on its offer is split and Royal Bank has the highest proportion of votes.

Century Business

(CBIZ)

warned its fourth-quarter results are expected to fall short of expectations as a result of a focus on strategic alternatives that it is ending. The company expects to report results between a profit of 2 cents a share and a loss of 2 cents a share, below the five-analyst estimate of earnings of 13 cents a share.

Medical Manager

(MMGR)

reported second-quarter earnings of 2 cents a share, a penny better than the six-analyst forecast, but down from the year-ago earnings of 16 cents a share.

Millennium Chemicals

(MCH)

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 39 cents a share, beating the 12-analyst estimate of 24 cents and the year-ago 13 cents.

InfoSpace.com

(INSP) - Get Report

set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

raised its rating on

Carnival

(CCL) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy.

Warburg Dillon Read

raised its rating on

Ericsson

(ERICY)

to buy from hold.

Credit Suisse First Boston

added

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

to its focus list and reiterated a strong buy rating.

Miscellany

Baker Hughes

(BHI)

said CEO, Chairman and President Max Lukens has resigned. The company named Joe Foster, chairman of

Newfield Exploration

(NFX)

, as an interim CEO, chairman and president.

Meanwhile Newfield announced that Foster resigned to take the post at Baker Hughes, and said it named David Trice as CEO effective Feb. 1.

Micro Warehouse

(MWHS)

said it named Jerome York as president, CEO and chairman.

The Heard on the Street column in

The Wall Street Journal

says shares of

Honeywell International

(HON) - Get Report

may be poised for a rebound later this year. The stock has fallen about 25% since Dec. 2, the first day shares of the newly merged Honeywell and

AlliedSignal

began trading. But if Honeywell can get past some weak numbers in its fourth-quarter earnings report, among other things, say some observers, the stocks could climb as high as 92 in 2001.

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