Updated from 3:13 p.m.

Nothing like a fixed-income analyst to rain on the rest of the world's parade.

Lehman Brothers

convertible bond analyst Ravi Suria, who in June issued a harsh report on

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

, has again cautioned investors from buying Amazon's convertible bonds, a day after the online retailer reported third quarter

earnings.

Generally, bond analysts are ignored by the equity market, but since

convertible bonds have equity characteristics, equity investors have on occasion reacted to reports on high-profile companies such as Amazon.

Suria said Lehman "continues to be concerned about Amazon's cash picture in the first half of next year. We believe that the true credit picture will emerge over the holiday selling season and will revisit our recommendation in the first half of next year."

Amazon.com reported a loss of 25 cents a share for the third quarter, but the subsequent conference call was considered reasonably positive by the market, as Amazon closed up $5, or 15.7%, to $36.88 in trading today.

On June 22, Suria released a scathing report on Amazon, which caused the stock to tumble. It lost 19% of its value on June 23, as 52 million shares changed hands

that day.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Kellogg

( CD) said it agreed to buy

Keebler Foods

( KBL) for $42 a share, or $3.6 billion. The cereal king said it would assume an undisclosed amount of Keebler debt as part of the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2001. Kellogg closed up $1.56, or 6.9%, to $24.31; Keebler closed up $1.06, or 2.7%, to $40.44.

After Wednesday's Close

Cendant

( WCOM) will spin off its business membership unit and will distribute all the stock in the new company to its shareholders. Cendant said it will immediately reclassify the unit as a discontinued operation.

The principal operating units of the spinoff will be

Cendant Membership Services

and

Cendant Incentives

. Scott Bernstein, president of Cendant Membership Services, will be CEO of the new company. Cendant closed up 19 cents, or 1.9%, to $9.94.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

WorldCom

( WCOM), the country's second-largest long-distance telephone company, today announced a 26% increase in third-quarter profits and said it would unveil a plan next week to restructure the company.

The Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom posted third-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share, excluding one-time charges. That's up from 37 cents a share a year ago. WorldCom's third-quarter results matched the consensus estimate among Wall Street analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

. WorldCom ended the day down $3.50, or 13.9%, to $21.75.

Nextel Communications

( NXTL) reported a smaller-than-anticipated loss in the third quarter, but the wireless telephone company, as expected, added fewer mobile-telephone subscribers than analysts initially had predicted.

Nextel posted a loss of 31 cents a share, from a loss of 55 cents a share a year earlier. Analysts polled by research firm First Call/Thomson Financial had forecast a loss of 37 cents a share. This morning, the stock was cut to a buy from strong buy at

First Union

. Nextel closed down $7.31, or 20.2%, to $28.81.

American General

(AGC) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of $1.31, in line with the First Call/Thomson Financial estimate and up from the year-ago earnings of $1.16 a share.

The financial-services holding company said continued strong demand for equity-based products in the latest quarter helped separate accounts rise 34% from a year ago, while general account reserves rose 3%. Assets under management, as well as assets supporting life and annuity products, increased. Also, earnings for the company's retirement services unit jumped 19%. American General ended the trading day down $3.56, or 4.4%, to $76.75.

American International Group

(AIG) - Get Report

3Q EPS of 61 cents, in line with the

I/B/E/S

41-analyst estimate and above the year-ago 53 cents a share. The company's stock closed down $6.06, or 6.1%, to $93.31.

Avaya

(AV)

4Q EPS of 7 cents, above the

I/B/E/S

two-analyst estimate of 3 cents, but below the year-ago 16 cents. The company was spun off by

Lucent

( LU) Oct. 2. Avaya closed down $1.19, or 9%, to $12; Lucent was up 94 cents, or 4.7%, to $21.06.

Calpine

(CPN)

3Q EPS of 96 cents, well above the I/B/E/S 25-analyst estimate of 83 cents and year-ago's 37 cents. The company attributed its growth to sharply higher electricity prices and said that will help it beat fourth-quarter estimates. It also announced a 2-for-1 stock split. Calpine closed up $2.69, or 3.5%, to $79.94.

Celera Genomics

( CRA), which is mapping the human genome, reported a loss of 43 cents a share, compared with a loss of 38 cents a share in the year-ago period. Analysts expected the company to lose 57 cents a share, according to an

I/B/E/S

survey. Revenue for the quarter rose to $18.3 million from $8.3 million last year, fueled by an increase in subscription agreements. Celera is a unit of

PE Corp

. Celera closed up $3.38, or 5.1%, to $69.

Celgene

(CELG) - Get Report

reported nil for its third-quarter, beating the First Call/Thomson Financial estimate of a 5 cent loss and up from the year-ago loss of 16 cents a share.

The company said its third-quarter results include the operating results of

Signal Pharmaceuticals

. The merger of Signal and Celgene, completed Aug. 31, was accounted for as a pooling of interests. Celgene's historical financial data has been restated to reflect the merger. Celgene ended the day down 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $64.81.

Dow Chemical

( OXHP) posted third-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, beating the First Call/Thomson Financial estimate of 44 cents and in line with year-ago earnings. Dow closed up 75 cents, or 2.9%, to $26.69.

Oxford Health

( OXHP) lately was 11.6%, or $3.50, higher to $33.56 after the company's CEO and Chairman Norman Payson said the company expects 2001 earnings between $2.40 and $2.50 a share. He credited higher enrollment, increased premiums and improved efficiency. See the earnings section below for the company's third-quarter results. Oxford closed up $3.81, or 12.7%, to $33.88.

PE Biosystems

(PEB) - Get Report

1Q EPS of 19 cents, above the 20-analyst estimate of 17 cents and the year-ago 14 cents. The stock closed up $12.13, or 12.7%, to $107.63.

Protective Life

(PL)

3Q EPS of 56 cents, below the I/B/E/S 17-analyst estimate of 59 cents and the year-ago 61 cents. Protective Life ended the day down $1.31, or 5.3%, to $23.63.

Ralston Purina

( RAL) posted fourth-quarter earnings of 28 cents a share, a penny better than the I/B/E/S 19-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago earnings of 24 cents. Ralston closed down 63 cents, or 2.5%, to $24.31.

Varian

( VARI) 4Q EPS of 39 cents a share, above the

I/B/E/S

six-analyst estimate of 34 cents and the year-ago 24 cents. Varian ended the day down $2.75, or 7.1%, to $36.25.

For more on earnings, check out these separate stories by

TheStreet.com

:

DaimlerChrysler Misses Estimates

Lockheed Martin Beats Third-Quarter Estimates

TheStreet.com Inc. Beats Analysts' Third-Quarter Estimates

USA Beats Estimates as Loss Widens

After Wednesday's Close

Applebee's

(APPB)

, which runs those suburban restaurants, reported earnings of 60 cents a share, besting the 15-analyst First Call/Thomson Financial consensus by 3 cents. The company reported earnings of 53 cents a share for the year-ago time period. Applebee's closed up 19 cents, or 0.7%, to $25.50.

Avista

(AVA) - Get Report

reported earnings of 72 cents a share, beating the four-analyst consensus looking for 11 cents a share. The company reported earnings of 52 cents a share for the same period a year ago. Avista ended the day up 50 cents, or 2.5%, to $20.81.

AXT

(AXTI) - Get Report

reported earnings of 14 cents a share, beating the eight-analyst consensus by a penny. The company reported earnings of 8 cents a share for the year-ago time period. AXT closed up $6.25, or 20.6%, to $36.63.

Belo

(BLC)

reported earnings of 15 cents a share, matching the seven-analyst consensus. The company reported earnings of 14 cents a share for the year-ago period. Belo closed up 6 cents, or 0.3%, to $18.94.

Callaway Golf

( CK) reported third-quarter earnings per share of 28 cents, above the nine-analyst estimate of 25 cents and also the year-ago 25 cents. Callaway ended the day down 38 cents, or 2.4%, to $15.19.

Crompton

( CK) reported earnings of 19 cents a share, in line with the six-analyst consensus. The company reported earnings of 18 cents a share for the year-ago time period. Crompton closed down 25 cents, or 3.4%, to $7.06.

DDi

( DDIC) reported earnings of 33 cents a share, beating the five-analyst consensus by six cents. The company reported earnings of 11 cents a share for the year-ago time period. DDi closed down 19 cents, or 0.5%, to $39.88.

R.H. Donnelley

( RHD) reported third-quarter earnings per share of 74 cents, above the two-analyst estimate of 71 cents and the 65 cents a year ago. R.H. Donnelley ended the day up 94 cents, or 4.7%, to $20.75.

Video game maker

Electronic Arts

( ERTS) reported a loss of 27 cents a share for the fiscal second quarter, beating the 14 broker consensus of a 30 cent loss a share. The company earned 15 cents a share a year ago. Electronic Arts closed up $5.06, or 10.96%, to $51.25.

Great Lakes Chemical

(GLK)

reported third-quarter earnings of 49 cents, in line with the 11 analyst estimate, but lower than the year-ago 59 cents. Great Lakes closed up 88 cents, or 3%, to $29.94.

Harte-Hanks

(HHS) - Get Report

reported diluted earnings of 30 cents a share, missing the 11 analyst consensus by a penny. The company reported earnings of 26 cents a share for the year-ago time period. Harte-Hanks closed down $4.50, or 16.4%, to $22.88.

Infospace

(INSP) - Get Report

reported earnings of 3 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst consensus looking for a break-even quarter. The company earned 2 cents a share for the same time period a year ago. Infospace closed up 38 cents, or 1.9%, to $20.69.

Legato Systems

(LGTO)

reported a loss of 1 cent a share, missing the 14 analyst consensus looking for a break-even quarter. The company reported earnings of 18 cents a share for the year-ago time period. Legato was less than smooth at the close, down $2.30, or 19.5%, to $9.50.

McLeodUSA

( MCLD) reported a loss of 24 cents a share, beating the 10 analyst consensus by two cents. The company reported a loss of 14 cents a share for the year-ago time period. McLeodUSA closed up $1.88, or 12.1%, to $17.38.

The dirt is finished and the earnings are fine.

Murphy's Oil

(MUR) - Get Report

reported earnings of $1.89 a share, beating the 12-analyst consensus for $1.84. The company reported earnings of $1 a share for the year-ago time period. Murphy's cleaned up (a bit), closing up 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $58.31.

TheStreet Recommends

New Focus

( NUFO) reported a third-quarter loss of 2 cents, better than the six-analyst estimate of a 12 cent loss and the year-ago loss of 5 cents. New Focus closed down $6.52, or 9.8%, to $60.

Oxford Health

(OXHP)

reported earnings of 81 cents a share, walloping the 14 analyst consensus looking for 57 cents a share. The company reported earnings of 34 cents a share for the year-ago time period. As noted above, Oxford closed up $3.81, or 12.7%, to $33.88.

Province Healthcare

( PR) reported third-quarter earnings of 17 cents, in line with the 21-analyst estimate and above the year-ago 13 cents. Province closed up 38 cents, or 1%, to $36.63.

Quest Software

( QSFT) reported earnings of 5 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst consensus by a penny. At this time last year, the company reported earnings of 1 cent a share. Quest closed down $8.63, or 15.3%, to $47.94.

Oil service and drilling company

R&B Falcon

(FLC) - Get Report

reported earnings of 7 cents a share, easily beating the 21 analyst consensus, which called for losses of 9 cents a share. The company reported a loss of 18 cents a share for the same time period a year ago. R&B closed down 25 cents, or 0.96%, to $25.69.

SCI Systems

(SCI) - Get Report

reported earnings of 37 cents a share, beating the 17 analyst consensus looking for 34 cents a share. The company reported earnings of 29 cents a share for the same time period a year ago. SCI closed up $1.25, or 3.4%, to $38.

Spectra-Physics

(SPLI)

reported a loss of 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of 23 cents at this time a year ago. Spectra-Physics ended the day up $3.38, or 9.1%, to $40.50.

VeriSign

(VRSN) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, well above the 24 analyst estimate of 6 cents and the year-ago 1 cent. VeriSign closed down $5.13, or 3.5%, to $142.31.

webMethods

( WEBM) reported earnings of zero cents a share, beating the 11 analyst consensus looking for an 11 cent loss. The company reported a loss of 17 cents a share for the year-ago time period, according to First Call. The stock closed up $10.38, or 12.2%, to $95.38.

Wireless Facilities

( WFII) reported earnings of 21 cents a share, beating the five-analyst consensus looking for 19 cents a share. The company reported earnings of 10 cents a share for the year-ago time period. Wireless Facilities ended the day down $9.14, or 15.1%, to $51.61.

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Analyst actions

Merrill Lynch

said in a research note that oil service stocks have fallen sharply for several reasons, including: mutual fund selling, to take profits before the fiscal year ends; concern that oil prices will fall from the current low $30s; and worry that natural gas prices will also fall, partly because of warm weather.

Merrill said that while the near-term weakness may persist before a widely anticipated decline in oil prices, it considers oil service stocks very strong buys at their current prices. "We believe that many stocks in the group can rise 50% or more over the intermediate-term," the note said.

The note said that there are particularly good opportunities among the mid-cap oilfield stocks. For those stocks, projected earnings multiples now average under the market for 2001 and predicted earnings growth averages over 30% a year for the next three to five years.

The brokerage cited such standouts as

Smith International

( SII), which is selling at 27 times the firm's 2001estimated EPS of $2.60;

BJ Services

( BJS), selling at 19 times its 2001 estimated EPS of $2.70; and

Weatherford International

(WFT) - Get Report

, selling at 22 times its 2001 estimated EPS of $1.65.

Smith International closed up $1.81, or 2.6%, to $71.38; BJ Services was up $1.38, or 2.7%, to $51.50; Weatherford was up 88 cents, or 2.4%, to $37.

Upgrades

Bindley Western Industries

( BDY): UP to outperform from neutral at

Salomon Smith Barney

. Bindley closed up $1.13, or 3.96%, to $29.50.

Harman International

(HAR)

: UP to strong buy from buy at

Credit Suisse First Boston

. Harman closed up $6.01, or 16.7%, to $42.01.

Marine Drilling

( MRL): UP to strong buy from hold at

ING Barings

; price target: $30. Marine Drilling closed up $1.38, or 6.1%, to $23.88.

Downgrades

Cambridge

( CATP): 2000 EPS view DOWN to loss of 66 cents from loss of 33 cents at

Goldman Sachs

; and 2001 EPS view to 10 cents from 40 cents. Cambridge closed up 16 cents, or 3.7%, to $4.38.

Chiron

( CHIR): DOWN to hold from buy at CSFB and DOWN to neutral from outperform at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

. Chiron closed down $6.56, or 13%, to $43.88.

Clear Channel

(CCU) - Get Report

: 2000 EPS view DOWN to a loss of 30 cents from loss of 22 cents at Goldman. Clear Channel closed up $2.94, or 5.7%, to $54.94.

Crompton

( CK): DOWN to neutral from buy at

Lehman Brothers

. Crompton closed down 25 cents, or 3.4%, to $7.06.

Keane

( KEA): DOWN to market perform from outperform at Goldman. The stock closed down $1.21, or 8.6%, to $12.88.

PepsiCo

(PEP) - Get Report

: DOWN to hold from buy at CSFB. PepsiCo ended the day down $1.50, or 3.1%, to $47.

Initiations

Chiles Offshore

(COD)

: NEW buy; price target: $26 at Salomon. Chiles closed up 13 cents, or 0.8%, to $16.25.

Lexmark

(LXK)

: NEW outperform at

Sanford Bernstein

. Lexmark closed up $3.06, or 9.3%, to $35.94.

Group Moves

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

started coverage of Internet software and services companies

Vastera

( VAST) and

Docent

(DCNT)

as buys. Vastera ended the day down $2.63, or 13.1%, to $17.38; Docent was down $1, or 3.9%, to $24.38.

Lehman raised its ratings on

Protein Design Labs

(PDLI) - Get Report

and

Abgenix

( ABGX) to outperform from neutral.

Protein Design Labs closed up $4.06, or 3.2%, to $129.44; Abgenix was up $2.38, or 2.7%, to $91.50.

Salomon Smith Barney started coverage on five machinery companies:

  • Deere (DE) - Get Report: NEW neutral; price target: $37. Deere closed up 19 cents, or 0.6%, to $33.63.
  • Caterpillar (CAT) - Get Report: NEW neutral; price target: $37. Caterpillar closed up 50 cents, or 1.6%, to $31.81.
  • CNH Global (CNH) : NEW neutral; price target: $10. CNH closed up 6 cents, or 0.7%, to $8.88.
  • Parker-Hannifin (PH) - Get Report: NEW outperform; price target: $44. The stock closed up 75 cents, or 2.1%, to $36.63.
  • Ingersoll Rand (IR) - Get Report: NEW outperform; price target: $42. Ingersoll Rand closed up 25 cents, or 0.8%, to $33.13.

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Offerings and stock actions

After Wednesday's Close

Albemarle

(ALB) - Get Report

raised its regular quarterly dividend to 13 cents a share from 11 cents a share. The stock closed up 56 cents, or 2.7%, to $21.81.

Viad

(VVI) - Get Report

said it plans to buy back $50 million of its own stock. Viad ended the day down 6 cents, or 0.3%, to $20.94.

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Miscellany

After Wednesday's Close

Aventis

( AVE) submitted new data to U.S. regulators to show that its StarLink biotech corn was safe for human consumption.

The corn was approved in 1998 by the

Environmental Protection Agency

for animal feed, but not for human food because of concerns about allergic reactions in some people. The company said the new data shows that there was "more than an adequate margin of safety" for children and others prone to food allergies. Aventis closed up $1.31, or 1.9%, to $70.63.

Standard & Poor's

said utility company

NiSource

(NI) - Get Report

will replace

Columbia Energy

(CG) - Get Report

on the

S&P 500. NiSource is buying Columbia in a deal that should close Nov. 1, which is when the change to the index will take place. NiSource closed flat at $24; Columbia Energy was up 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $71.63.

Washington Federal

( WFSL) named Roy Whitehead chief executive officer. Whitehead, who has been with the company since 1998, was president of both Washington Federal and

Washington Federal Savings

.

Also, Guy Pinkerton was named chairman of the company's wholly owned subsidiary Washington Federal Savings. Washington Federal closed flat at $20.56.

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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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