Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

was downgraded to a sell -- a rating as rare on Wall Street as an empty cab on a rainy day -- from a hold by Mark Rowen at

Prudential Securities

.

Rowen also slashed the company's price target to $9 from $20. Including Amazon, the house has only 11 sell ratings on the 650 stocks it covers.

"A combination of a slowing economy, the law of large numbers, the dot-com meltdown and surrounding publicity and, in our opinion, household saturation finally caught up with the company and its record of hyper-growth," he said.

Rowen went on to say, "The anemic growth in Amazon's most mature, and only profitable, segment has caused us to re-examine Amazon's market valuation. " Also, the firm believes Amazon's market cap is too big, posing further downside risk to investors.

Also noted was that if Amazon's U.S. book, music and video business are combined with its international segments, the retailer would have more than $2 billion in revenue for 2000.

"We find this extremely impressive, considering the company sold its first book a little more than five years ago. Yet given the fact that the largest book retailer in the world,

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

, is expected to generate revenue of approximately $4 billion in the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2001, we are not really surprised that Amazon's fourth-quarter U.S. book/music/video growth was a disappointing 11% above the fourth quarter of 1999."

Even though Amazon was able to raise prices in its U.S. book, music and video segment, Rowen wrote, Prudential believes the move came at the cost of revenue growth. Amazon closed up 6 cents, or 0.4%, to $14.50.

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

said it will eliminate 1,700 fulltime jobs, or 4% of its workforce, mainly in central Texas. The PC-maker said many of the job cuts are because of redundancy, but others are because of a trimmed growth outlook. Dell closed up $2.06, or 8.99%, to $25.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Loews Cineplex Entertainment

(LCP)

said it has agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by Canada's

Onex

.

As part of the deal, Loews and its wholly owned U.S. subsidiaries will voluntarily file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The stock was unchanged today at 39 cents. Whoa! How come the popcorn and candy costs so much??

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

reported first-quarter earnings Thursday that beat Wall Street's slightly raised estimates by 3 cents and said it expects 2001 revenue to grow even faster than it had previously stated.

For its first quarter ended Jan. 31, Ciena earned $54 million, or 18 cents a share, excluding special charges, up from $9.1 million, or 3 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Twenty-one analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

expected the optical networking company, based in Linthicum, Md., to report earnings of 15 cents a share.

Ciena reported first-quarter revenue of $352 million, up 130% over the $152.2 million reported in the same period last year.

For more, check out

TheStreet.com's

earlier

story. Ciena closed up $12.19, or 15.9%, to $89.

Baker Hughes

(BHI)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share, a penny better than the 24-analyst estimate and way up from the year-ago loss of 7 cents. Baker Hughes closed down $2.33, or 5.5%, to $40.17.

Smithfield Foods

(SFD)

posted third-quarter earnings of 67 cents, missing the six-analyst estimate of 76 cents a share, but up from year-ago earnings of 36 cents a share.

The latest quarter's figure excludes a gain of 79 cents from the sale of 6.7 million shares of

IBP

. Smithfield closed down 65 cents, or 2.3%, to $28.20.

Watson Pharmaceuticals'

(WPI)

fourth-quarter profits fell from a year ago, but the company beat analysts' expectations, as internal research and development, strategic alliances and acquisitions helped drive the bottom line.

The drugmaker and developer said income for the quarter, excluding items, fell to $32.4 million, or 31 cents a share, from $43.8 million, or 44 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Analysts had expected the company to earn 27 cents in the latest quarter, according to First Call.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, revenue rose 32% to $255 million from $193 million in the same quarter a year ago.

For the first quarter, Watson, which is based in Corona, Calif., expects revenue of $270 million to $290 million. Excluding nonrecurring items, the company expects income of 39 cents to 41 cents a share. For fiscal 2001, Watson forecast revenue of $1.2 billion and income, excluding items, of $2.21 to $2.23 a share. Analysts expect the company to earn 41 cents in the first quarter and $2.22 for the year. Watson earned 41 cents in the first quarter of 2000 and $1.12 for the year. Watson ended the day down $1.68, or 3.1%, to $53.10.

After Wednesday's Close

VoiceStream Wireless

(VSTR)

, currently in the throes of being acquired by Germany's

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

, posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss. At the same time, figures for revenue and new subscribers were lighter than expected.

VoiceStream Wireless also set a multiyear deal with

AOL Time Warner

(AOL)

to offer AOL Instant Messaging through VoiceStream's text messaging and high-speed wireless Internet service. VoiceStream will be North America's first GSM wireless service provider to carry the AOL Instant Messaging service, and the first to offer it to all of its wireless subscribers, VoiceStream said.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, the company recorded a net loss of $807 million, or $3.49 a diluted share, compared with a loss of $152 million, or $1.58 a share, a year earlier. The consensus estimate of analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

was for a loss of $2.70.

Salomon Smith Barney

knocked it down to neutral from outperform and price target down to $115 from $140.

TheStreet.com

wrote more about VoiceStream's latest bit of

news in a separate story. VoiceStream closed down $4.75, or 4.6%, to $99.38; Deutsche Telekom was down $1.13, or 4.2%, to $25.61; and AOL Time Warner was up $1.42, or 2.9%, to $49.95.

Advanced Digital Information

(ADIC)

posted first-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, 2 cents better than the seven-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 13 cents a share.

The company said sales grew 41%, to $90.1 million for the first quarter, compared with year-ago sales of $63.9 million. Advanced Digital said inventories were "above acceptable long-term levels," adding that the increase reflects both the magnitude of the rise in sales and the uncertain demand experienced during the quarter. Advanced Digital Information closed up $1.25, or 7.2%, to $18.56.

Applebee's

(APPB)

reported first-quarter earnings of 63 cents, in line with the 15-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 52 cents a share. The latest quarter's earnings includes a pretax loss of $359,000 on disposal of restaurants and equipment. Applebee's closed down $2.13, or 6.2%, to $32.38.

Cable Design Technologies

(CDT)

said it remains comfortable with analysts' second-quarter estimates, which call for the company to earn 29 cents a share in the period.

The network connectivity products maker will release its earnings on Feb. 27. Cable Design earned 24 cents a share in the same quarter a year ago. The estimate for the latest period excludes a bad debt charge of 4 cents a share related to

Anicom

, a distributor that recently filed for bankruptcy.

Cable Design said Anicom "may have affected sales to a small extent" in the second quarter, but won't have a "material impact" on the top line in the future. Cable Design closed up $1.16, or 5.7%, to $21.50.

R.H. Donnelley

(RHD)

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 35 cents, excluding charges for the closure of Get Digital Smart, gains from strategic actions and extraordinary losses, beating the two-analyst estimate of 32 cents a share and up from year-ago earnings of 22 cents a share.

The company said it continues to expect full-year 2001 earnings of $2.40 a share, which it announced in December. R.H. Donnelley closed up 1 cent, or .04%, to $25.50.

Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

lowered its earnings outlook for the first quarter of 2001 but didn't offer any specifics.

The chemical company issued the statement after taking into account the additional shares issued because of the close of its merger with

Union Carbide

last Tuesday, as well as the negative impact of higher U.S. natural gas costs in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter of 2000 on the Union Carbide businesses.

In January, Dow said it expected earnings for the first quarter of 2001 to be between 25 cents and 40 cents a share, based on expectations for the businesses that were part of Dow prior to the merger. As a result of the share exchange at the close of the merger, there are now about 900 million shares of Dow stock outstanding, on a diluted basis. The eight-analyst estimate is currently 26 cents a share. Dow closed up $1.14, or 3.6%, to $32.54.

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

said that it topped Wall Street's earnings estimates for the fourth quarter by a penny.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company, a maker of graphics processors, said it earned $31.1 million, or 38 cents a share, up from $14.6 million, or 19 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The five-analyst estimate is 37 cents in the quarter.

Revenue for the quarter rose to $218.2 million, well ahead of the $128.5 million the company reported in the same period last year. Nvidia closed up $8.75, or 18.4%, to $56.44.

Outback Steakhouse

(OSI)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, in line with the 14-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 38 cents a share. The year-ago figure includes a $5.5 million write-down of impaired assets and costs associated with restaurant closings. Outback closed up 23 cents, or 0.9%, to $25.71.

Teleflex

(TFX) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 80 cents a share, a penny better than the seven-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 71 cents a share.

The company, which provides engineered products and services such industries as auto, marine and medical, posted full-year earnings of $2.83. In November, Teleflex said it expected full-year earnings of $2.80 to $2.85 a share. The seven-analyst estimate was revised to $2.81 from $2.82. Teleflex closed up 60 cents, or 1.4%, to $43.60.

Tricon Global

(YUM) - Get Report

beat Wall Street's earnings estimates for the fourth quarter.

The owner of

Taco Bell

,

KFC

and

Pizza Hut

said its operating earnings totaled $120 million, or 81 cents a share. The company earned $122 million, or 78 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The 13-analyst estimate was 79 cents in the latest quarter.

Sales dropped to $2.18 billion, a 6% decrease from $2.31 billion in the equivalent period last year.

The company also reiterated its operating earnings estimate of $3.18 to $3.22 for 2001. Analysts expect the company to earn $3.16 for the year. The company also said its board authorized an additional $300 million stock repurchase program spanning the next two years. Tricon Global closed up $12.19, or 15.9%, to $89.

Wireless Facilities

(WFII)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share, 2 cents better than the four-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 11 cents a share. The latest quarter's results exclude goodwill and acquisition-related charges.

The company said its fourth-quarter revenue increased 124% to $80.1 million from $35.8 million in the fourth quarter of 1999. Wireless Facilities closed down $4.38, or 14.2%, to $26.38.

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Analyst actions

Upgrades

UnitedHealth Group

(UNH) - Get Report

: ADDED to Focus One list at

Merrill Lynch

. UnitedHealth closed down 75 cents, or 1.3%, to $56.25.

Downgrades

Corixa

(CRXA)

: DOWN to hold from strong buy at

Prudential Securities

. Corixa closed down $5.38, or 21.7%, to $19.44.

Credence Systems

(CMOS)

: 2001 EPS view DOWN to 38 cents from $1 at

Goldman Sachs

; and 2002 EPS view DOWN to $1.76 from $2.35. Credence closed up $1.63, or 6.99%, to $24.88 -- believe it, buddy.

Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

: 2001 EPS view DOWN to $1.40 from $1.85 at Goldman. Dow, as noted above, closed up $1.14, or 3.6%, to $32.54.

Fundtech

(FNDT)

: price target DOWN to $19 from $33 at

Lehman Brothers

; and 2001 operating EPS DOWN to 60 cents, excluding goodwill amortization of 16 cents a share, from $1.13. Fundtech closed up 13 cents, or 1.2%, to $10.56.

Ilex Oncology

(ILXO)

: price target DOWN to $45 from $63 at Prudential. Ilex closed down 50 cents, or 2.3%, to $20.88.

IPC Holdings

(IPCR)

: DOWN to outperform from strong buy at

Morgan Stanley

. IPC closed down 56 cents, or 2.3%, to $23.56.

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

: 2001 EPS view DOWN to 73 cents from 81 cents a share at Merrill; and 2002 EPS view DOWN to 88 cents from $1.02. JDS closed up $3.88, or 9.4%, to $45.13.

Nice Systems

(NICE) - Get Report

: price target DOWN to $18 from $30 at

UBS Warburg

. Nice Systems had a not-so-nice finish; it closed down 58 cents, or 3.7%, to $15.05.

Powerwave Technologies

(PWAV)

: DOWN to outperform from strong buy at Morgan Stanley. Powerwave Tech closed down $2.44, or 8.4%, to $26.63.

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Report

: DOWN to hold from accumulate at Prudential. Sunoco closed down 28 cents, or 0.8%, to $34.52.

TD Waterhouse

(TWE)

: 2001 EPS view DOWN to 60 cents from 71 cents a share at

Credit Suisse First Boston

. The stock closed up 40 cents, or 2.9%, to $14.18.

Ultramar Diamond

(UDS)

: DOWN to hold from accumulate at Prudential. Ultramar closed down 61 cents, or 1.7%, to $34.61.

Wireless Facilities

(WFII)

: DOWN to long-term buy from buy at

J.P. Morgan

. Wireless Facilities, as noted above, closed down $4.38, or 14.2%, to $26.38.

Initiations

Interwoven

(IWOV)

: NEW strong buy at Prudential; price target: $32. Interwoven closed up $6.13, or 30.5%, to $26.19. The content management provider was rated a strong buy. Analyst Tim Getz said Interwoven was the dominant player in managing the millions of Web pages generated by corporate sites and has been little affected by the slowdown in corporate IT spending.

Valassis Communications

(VCI)

: NEW buy at CSFB. Valassis closed down 1 cent, or .03%, to $32.96.

Vectren

(VVC)

: NEW buy at CSFB. Vectren, a gas and electric utility, closed up 22 cents, or 1%, to $22.27.

Group Moves

Lehman started coverage of Internet security stocks:

  • Internet Security (ISSX) : NEW strong buy; price target: $80. This stock closed up $9, or 13.1%, to $77.56.
  • RSA Security (RSAS) : NEW buy; price target: $65. RSA ended the day up $1.44, or 2.6%, to $57.13.
  • Entrust Technologies (ENTU) : NEW market performer. Entrust closed up 44 cents, or 3.9%, to $11.69.
  • Symantec (SYMC) - Get Report: NEW market performer. Symantec closed up 94 cents, or 1.9%, to $51.25.

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Offerings and stock actions

Charles River Laboratories

(CRL) - Get Report

will file an offering of 7 million shares. Charles River closed down 35 cents, or 1.4%, to $24.50.

After Wednesday's Close

USG

(USG)

, which is a buildings products maker, said it will cut its quarterly dividend to 2.5 cents from 15 cents a share because of a downturn in business as well as costs related to asbestos litigation. USG closed down 19 cents, or 0.9%, to $21.75.

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Miscellany

After Wednesday's Close

Cousins Properties

(CUZ) - Get Report

said President and COO Daniel DuPree will resign in March after five years as president. He will be succeeded by R. Dary Stone, currently president of Cousins Stone, which is majority owned by Cousins Properties. Cousins Properties closed down 54 cents, or 2.1%, to $25.45.

Eli Lilly's

(LLY) - Get Report

antipsychotic drug, Zyprexa, won approval from the advisory panel for the

Food and Drug Administration

for its injected version, which is used to rapidly calm patients experiencing severe agitation. The FDA is expected to follow the panel's advice.

Already a blockbuster drug with $2.4 billion in sales last year, Zyprexa's pill is approved for treating schizophrenia and manic episodes in bipolar patients. Currently, injections of older antipsychotic drugs are used in situations of urgent agitation, but side effects can be unpleasant and sometimes painful. Eli Lilly closed down $1.83, or 2.4%, to $75.25.

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By the Numbers

The data on NYSE and Nasdaq percent winners and losers are filtered to exclude stocks whose previous day's volume was less than 25,000 shares; whose last price was less than 5; and whose net change was less than 1/2.

Dow point gain and loss data are based on New York closing prices and do not reflect late composite trading.

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