Thursday's Winners & Losers: Oracle, McDonald's, Conexant, Colgate-Palmolive - TheStreet

Thursday's Winners & Losers: Oracle, McDonald's, Conexant, Colgate-Palmolive

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Updated from 3:49 p.m. EDT

In a bold move,

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

analyst Charles Phillips lifted his rating on

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

to strong buy from outperform, ahead of the software-database maker's first-quarter earnings report due out after the close of regular trading today. The move helped push the stock up $3.13 to $84.94.

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

lost 19 cents to $27 after it said the effect of weak foreign currency against a strong U.S. dollar could dampen its 2000 earnings per share by as much as 7 cents. That estimate was revised from earlier projections of 5 cents.

The news is sure to make investors nervous; they already are concerned about third-quarter earnings after a string of negative preannouncements.

This morning,

Banc of America Securities

cut its rating on McDonald's to market perform from buy.

TheStreet.com

looked at McDonald's recent

announcement as well as the broader

implications of the weakening euro in separate stories.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

was off 6 cents to $73 after it said it will pay $600 million to double its stake -- to 20% -- in

Suzuki

. The world's largest car-maker said the investment will be mainly through the purchase of new shares. GM Chairman Jack Smith will join Suzuki's board.

A stake of that size will allow GM, which set a goal of having 10% of the Asian market by 2004, to consolidate Suzuki's earnings with its own. Currently, GM sells just under 4% of the Asian market. Suzuki said the increased stake will help it expand in Asia and then into Oceania. The smaller car-maker said it wants to use GM bases in other countries.

Also,

Credit Suisse First Boston

started coverage on GM with a buy rating and a target price of $85.

Indigo

(INDG)

, a digital-color printing systems provider, was up 19% after announcing its alliance with

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

to co-develop high-end, digital-color printing systems. As part of the alliance, H-P will make a $100 million equity investment in Indigo. Hewlett-Packard was lately up1.8%. Indigo was up 17.6%, or $1.16, to $7.72.

Nortel

(NT)

gained $3.81, or 5.6%, to $71.81 on news that it entered into a multiyear alliance with

InfoSpace

(INSP) - Get Report

, which rose $1.31 to $40.56. Financial terms were not disclosed. The companies will work together on products to let phone companies offer advanced data and transaction services over wireless Internet networks.

Online bookseller

Barnes & Noble.com

(BNBN)

edged up 19 cents to $4.56 after it said it signed a deal to buy competitor

Fatbrain.com

(FATB)

, which specializes in professional and technical books, for $64 million. Fatbrain was down 10%, or 91 cents, to $3.94.

Barnes & Noble.com's payment of $4.25 for each share of Fatbrain will be made up of 75% stock and 25% cash.

Tupperware

(TUP) - Get Report

said it plans to acquire

BeautiControl

(BUTI)

for $7 a share, or $60 million. Tupperware was 44 cents lower to $19.50, while BeautiControl jumped a whopping 83.3%, or $3.13 to $6.88.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Colgate-Palmolive

(CL) - Get Report

sunk $8.69, or 15.5%, to $47.50 after its rating was cut to market perform from buy and its price target slashed to $55 from $62 at

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

. The firm cut its view after the company's management indicated that a weak euro and rising petroleum costs would hurt third-quarter earnings by 5 cents a share.

In reaction to the downgrade, Colgate-Palmolive said it was comfortable with third-quarter results and company CEO and Chairman Reuben Mark said increased earnings will be accompanied by "good unit volume growth in the U.S. and abroad."

Emisphere

(EMIS)

moved up $2, or 7.4%, to $29.13 after it reported a fourth-quarter loss of 21 cents a share, thumping the three-analyst estimate of a 52 cent loss and up from the year-ago loss of 54 cents. The company attributed higher fourth-quarter revenue mainly to a milestone payment from its Forteo hormone-development program with

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

. Lilly was off 69 cents to $73.75.

Ford

(F) - Get Report

CEO Henry Wallace announced that analysts' estimates for third-quarter earnings were "in the ballpark,"

Reuters

reported. That would end ending Ford's 17-quarter streak of operating earning improvements. Current predictions call for Ford to come in at 52 cents a share, compared to 54 cents in the year-ago period. The stock was able to finish up regular trading up 69 cents to $26.

Also today, Ford approved a stock buyback of up to $5 billion of common and Class B stock, adding to the original plan to distribute up to $10 billion in cash to shareholders. Also,

Credit Suisse First Boston

rolled out coverage on the stock with a hold rating.

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

was feeling its oats, posting first-quarter earnings of 57 cents, beating the nine-analyst estimate of 54 cents and up from year-ago earnings of 50 cents. The earnings figure is before goodwill amortization. The company attributed essentially flat earnings in the latest quarter to higher-interest expense, a result of increased debt levels associated with prior-year purchases and stock repurchases. Still, the stock slid 38 cents to $32.44.

INSpire Insurance Solutions

(NSPR) - Get Report

, an insurance administration firm, announced that its 2001 revenue might be cut because of the actions of troubled insurer

Millers American Group

, which does business with INSpire. It inched up .03 cents to $2.

Robotic Vision's

(ROBV)

warning that it will post lower-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings of between 6 cents and 9 cents a share sent the stock down 30.2%, or $2.91, to $6.72. The

First Call/Thomson Financial

six-analyst estimate had put earnings at 18 cents. The company blamed temporary order deferrals for semiconductor-inspection equipment for the lowered outlook. It said orders should be back to normal in the next quarter. This morning,

McDonald Investment

cut its rating to hold from aggressive buy.

Solutia

(SOI) - Get Report

lost 81 cents, or 6.1%, to $12.44 on news that it warned that it was reducing its earnings outlook for 2000 by 15% because of current views on crude oil pricing, natural gas futures markets, currency exchange rates and slowing volume growth. The 10-analyst estimate for the year pegged earnings at $1.48 a share.

Sonoco Products

(SON) - Get Report

expects third-quarter earnings to be flat or slightly below year-ago earnings of 44 cents a share. The paper and plastics packaging company also anticipates fourth-quarter earnings to be between 44 cents and 47 cents a share, down from last year's earnings of 50 cents. The nine-analyst estimate was 49 cents a share for the third quarter, 53 cents a share for the fourth quarter and $1.94 a share for the year.

The company blamed slower business volume, in addition to fewer billing days, for the lower third- and fourth -quarter earnings estimates. Sonoco's fiscal 1999 income, before items of $1.79 a share, is about $2.5 billion. Sonoco fell $2.63, or 12.8%, to $17.88.

Internet media company

StarMedia Network

(STRM) - Get Report

said it expects to be profitable in the fourth quarter of 2001, a year earlier than expected. The company, which targets Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking audiences, also said it

cut about 15% of its staff, or 125 positions, as part of a realignment program. The stock ended the day down $1.56, or 13.6%, to $9.94.

Tektronix

(TEK)

hopped $2.13 to $74.75 after it posted first-quarter earnings of 56 cents a share, a dime above the seven-analyst estimate and well above the year-ago loss of 23 cents a share. Company CEO and President Rick Willis attributed the growth to a "continuation of robust orders, sales and gross margins."

Virata

(VRTA)

jumped $7.81, or 15.6%, to $58 after it said it expects to receive about $41.5 million of revenue in its second quarter, up from its quarter earnings of $27.7 million, due to the continued expansion of its markets in Asia, Europe and North America. The addition of customer design contracts and the increasing number of new customers also helped the latest quarter, which ends Oct. 1.

The seven-analyst estimate gave Virata a mean earnings estimate of 8 cents a share for the second quarter.

Wallace Computer Systems

(WCS)

was $1, or 7.7%, higher to $14 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, excluding a charge, a penny better than the lone analyst estimate, but down from the year-ago 46 cents. The company said it expects earnings for 2001 to range from $1.65 to $1.75 a share, better than the estimate of $1.38.

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Analyst actions

Credit Suisse First Boston

analyst Mike Mayo raised

Chase Manhattan Bank

(CMB)

to a hold from a sell. Still, the stock slid 25 cents to $50.44.

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

got a boost from

Merrill Lynch

, which said investors should "stand up and aggressively buy" the stock. The stock managed to creep up 69 cents to $55.44.

Upgrades

Allstate

(ALL) - Get Report

: UP to outperform at

Lehman Brothers

; price target: $40. It was up 6 cents to $30.94.

First Union

(FTU)

: UP to buy from market perform at

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

. It edged up 31 cents to $30.56.

Hispanic Broadcasting

(HSP)

: UP to strong buy from buy at

Banc of America Securities

; price target: $35. It jumped $2.19, or 9.6%, to $24.94.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

: UP to buy from outperform at

ABN Amro

; price target: $78. It was down $1.63 to $59.63.

McKesson HBOC

(MCK) - Get Report

UP to market outperformer from neutral at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

. The stock was 31 cents higher to $28.31.

Franklin Resources

(BEN) - Get Report

: price target UP to $50 from $40 at

Salomon Smith Barney

. It was off 28 cents to $44.31.

Downgrades

Breakaway Solutions

(BWAY) - Get Report

: price target DOWN to $25 from $40 at Lehman. It lost 63 cents to $14.13.

Gillette

(G) - Get Report

: DOWN to hold from buy at

Edward Jones

. Gillette fell $1.44 to $29.38.

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

: DOWN to market perform from buy at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. The stock was down $1.31 to $45.44.

Initiations

Sigma-Aldrich

(SIAL)

: NEW strong buy at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown; 12- to 18-month price target: $39. The stock was 50 cents lower to $27.31.

Group Moves

CSFB initiated coverage of

Freddie Mac

(FRE)

, which ended the day down 88 cents to $50.56, and

Fannie Mae

(FNM)

, which was up 14 cents to $65.02, with buy ratings. Freddie Mac's price target was set at $61; Fannie Mae's at $76.

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Offerings and stock actions

Administaff

(ASF)

set a 2-for-1 stock split. When the split is complete, the number of shares outstanding for the company will increase to about 27.4 million. The news lifted the stock 69 cents to $84.19.

Comarco

(CMRO)

, which makes wireless communications products, said its board had approved a 3-for-2 stock split. The stock inched up 6 cents to $33.94.

Mid-State Bancshares

(MDST)

raised its quarterly dividend to 18 cents a share from 16 cents a share. In spite of the news, the stock slid 13 cents to $30.

Modem chip-maker

Conexant

(CNXT) - Get Report

shot up 42%, or $15.56, to $52.63 after its board approved a plan to

spin off its Internet infrastructure business, planning an IPO for January.

SG Cowen

raised its rating on Conexant to strong buy from buy.

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Miscellany

American International Group's

(AIG) - Get Report

added 25 cents to $92 after

SunAmerica

named Jay Wintrob chief executive to succeed Eli Broad effective Jan. 1. Broad will remain chairman, while Wintrob will continue in his post as president.

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

skidded $1.06 to $58.38 after it announced that a redesign of its rudder control on the 737, the world's most widely used jet, will amp up safety and satisfy regulators investigating fatal crashes in 1991 and 1994.

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

tacked on 13 cents to $48.19 after it was ordered by the

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

to pay a $400,000 penalty to settle allegations that the automaker didn't respond adequately to defects on some of its large cars and pickups, according to

The Wall Street Journal

.

The charges stem from two recalls -- one in January 1999 that involved fuel leaks in 700,000 cars and the other last December involving a clutch-line problem in 9,000 trucks. The penalty is one of the agency's largest civil assessments.

Millennium Chemicals

(MCH)

slid 13 cents to $15.75 after it terminated the sale of its 29.5% stake in

Equistar Chemicals

, citing unsatisfactory offers. Millennium said the sale would not be in the best interest of its shareholders, given the cash distributions from Equistar, which totaled $83 million through August.

Equistar partners include

Occidental Petroleum

(OXY) - Get Report

, which owns a 29.5% stake in the venture, and

Lyondell Chemical

(LYO)

which holds 41%.

Millennium posted a loss of $326 million, or $4.16 a diluted share, on revenue of $1.59 billion in 1999. The company expects its investment in Equistar to appreciate in value.

To meet growing demand for communications equipment,

Mitel

(MLT)

will invest $13.5 million to expand its Ottawa headquarters and add 400 new engineering jobs to its semiconductor division. The company, which provides semiconductor and communications systems for voice and data networks, said it will add a range of high-end design and development skills in a variety of engineering disciplines.

Also, Mitel said will add another 100,000 square feet to its new 650,000 square-foot building to house the additional workers. The new facility is expected to be completed within a year, in line with its employee growth targets, the company said. Mitel mounted 63 cents to $23.63.

Plains All American Pipeline

(PAA) - Get Report

and its general partner

PlainsResources

(PLX) - Get Report

announced that they will pay about $29.5 million for a settlement involving a series of class-action securities lawsuits related to unauthorized trading losses that were disclosed in November 1999. The companies estimate that the settlement will reduce current-quarter net income by up to 14 cents a unit for Plains Resources and 6 cents to 17 cents a share for Plains All American Pipeline. Plains All American shed 6 cents to $18.69, while PlainsResources lost $1, or 5.3%, to $18.

The

Los Angeles Times

, a unit of

Tribune

(TRB)

, announced that it will close its community news division and cut 170 editorial and advertising jobs. Tribune fell 19 cents to $36.88.

WorldCom

(WCOM)

said it will appeal the

European Commission's

decision to block its $115 billion acquisition of

Sprint

(FON)

. WorldCom slipped 31 cents to $30.06.

The commission said it is confident it will win the appeal, while

The Wall Street Journal

reported that an unnamed executive from WorldCom said an appeal would not revive the deal, but could make closing mergers easier for WorldCom in the future.

After Wednesday's Close

Gaylord Entertainment

(GET)

said it had named Dennis Sullivan as interim president and CEO while it conducts a search.

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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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