Updated from 3:52 p.m. EST

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

announced third-quarter earnings of 28 cents a share, hitting the

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate right on the nail, while beating the year-ago quarter by 3 cents.

Sales jumped 17% to $11.5 billion, but same-store sales only grew by 4%, hurt by deflating lumber and materials costs. Also, a September hurricane and Y2K fears had helped boost the year-ago quarter, making side-by-side comparisons a little less than impressive. Home Depot said those falling lumber and materials costs would continue to affect its fourth quarter.

In fact, Home Depot's fourth quarter will not be a stellar one. Yes, the company still expects to top fiscal 1999 earnings, with its 2000 prediction in a range between $1.16 and $1.17 a share vs. the year-ago $1.00 a share. But the company said that those predictions are dependent on customer traffic remaining the same as was in the third quarter.

According to CEO Arthur Blank, falling commodity prices and a competitive retail environment will make it tougher to produce big results this fourth quarter. "These factors have also made us cautious regarding our sales outlook for the fourth-quarter fiscal 2000," Blank said in a company press release. Home Depot closed up $1.81, or 4.9%, to $39.19.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

You've got retail! Today,

America Online

(AOL)

gave

Restoration Hardware

( RSTO), a home furnishings retailer hawking knock-off antiques, and

Skechers

(SKX) - Get Report

, the funky footwear seller, featured slots in its retail shopping area.

AOL ended the day up 83 cents, or 1.7%, to $49.90; Restoration was flat at $1.69; Skechers was up 31 cents, or 2.4%, to $13.38.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

are going to be friends. The pair announced a strategic alliance today. Per the terms of the deal, Citigroup will integrate Citibank's payment capabilities with Oracle's market exchange, transact its internal spending over OracleExchange.com, use Oracle's Internet Procurement Service worldwide and market OracleExchange.com to its corporate clients. The move helps position Oracle as a clearinghouse for business-to-business transactions over the Web. Oracle closed up $3.63, or 14.7%, to $28.38; Citigroup was up 25 cents, or 0.5%, to $50.75.

O.K., so this merger isn't exactly America Online and

Time Warner

, but

Radian Group

(RDN) - Get Report

announced that it will snap up municipal bond insurer

Enhance Financial Services

( EFS) for $540 million in stock. The deal values Enhance at $14.12 a share, with one Radian share equal to 0.22 an Enhance share. Radian closed up $2.19, or 3.4%, to $66.38; Enhance was up 19 cents, or 1.4%, to $14.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Cost Plus

( CPWM), a home-products retailer based in California, released third-quarter earnings of a penny a share, exactly what the analysts expected, but half of the 2 cents they earned in the year-ago quarter. Sales rose to $101.9 million from the year-ago $82.8 million. The company said it will make both fourth-quarter and fiscal-year estimates. Cost Plus closed down 44 cents, or 1.6%, to $26.31.

Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette's

online brokerage arm

DLJDirect

( DIR) announced third-quarter losses of 4 cents a share, narrower than the 5 cent loss estimate, but not as good as last year's 3 cent loss.

With

Credit Suisse First Boston's

( CSGKY) acquisition of DLJ soon will be completed, as will be DLJDirect's run with its current name. The online broker will become

CSFBdirect

. DLJDirect closed up 13 cents, or 2.7%, to $4.81; CSFB was flat at the close, at $44.13.

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

posted third-quarter losses vs. last year's third-quarter profits -- amid weakened sales at its department stores -- but its results still beat analysts' expectations.

The fashion and drugstore retailer lost $23 million, or 12 cents a share, down from earnings of $142 million, or 51 cents a share, in the same period last year. A

First Call/Thomson Financial

poll of 11 analysts had estimated a loss of 14 cents for the quarter.

Quarterly revenue fell to $7.74 billion, from $7.83 billion last year, as revenues at the company's J.C. Penney catalog, department stores and Eckerd drugstores fell. J.C. Penny, which warned earlier this month of a larger-than-expected third-quarter loss, said same-store sales at its department stores fell 3.7%, while same-store sales at Eckerd drugstores rose 9.1%. J.C. Penney closed up 50 cents, or 4.7%, to $11.13.

We read

Playboy's

( PLA) earnings report for the articles. Honest.

Hugh Hefner's company announced a third-quarter loss of 27 cents a share, worse than last-year's 5 cent loss. There was no analyst estimate for this quarter.

Losses in the company's TV division helped weigh down the earnings. Revenues in Playboy TV declined to $28.2 million from $52.0 million, with the loss due in part to a $30 million payment to help launch an international division, which will handle all the foreign wiggling and jiggling on television screens. Publishing and online revenues increased, but the company announced that it would not take Playboy.com public, citing unfavorable market conditions. It said it will, however, take its online businesses public when conditions improve. Playboy closed down 44 cents, or 3.5%, to $11.94.

Staples

(SPLS)

looked pretty jammed after it released third-quarter earnings of 19 cents a share, missing the 21 cent First Call/Thomson Financial estimate and the year-ago 20 cents. Sales rose 17% to $2.8 billion from the year-ago $2.4 billion. But things weren't that good. Along with the earnings miss, Staples said that it would miss fourth-quarter estimates -- but it will finish ahead of the year-ago quarter.

And like a fourth-grader with a "C" in effort on a report card, let's look at the litany of excuses given by Staples. According to a press release that hit the street at 6:15 a.m., "the third quarter was negatively impacted by lower consumer spending, competitive pricing, labor and shrink pressures, costs associated with the company's new market entries and a new distribution center that is not yet operating at capacity." (Shrinkage is the difference between actual inventory and what should be on hand.) But wait, there's more. "Economic uncertainty caused by the gas crisis in the United Kingdom affected European retail results." Staples closed down 63 cents, or 5.5%, to $10.75.

You get the max for the minimum at

T.J. Maxx

. You also get better-than-expected third-quarter earnings from its parent company,

TJX

(TJX) - Get Report

. Today, the company announced earnings of 56 cents a share, a penny better than the First Call/Thomson Financial estimate and the year-ago 48 cents. Revenues increased to $2.4 billion from $2.2 billion. The stock closed down $3.81, or 13.6%, to $24.31.

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

, the British telecommunication giant, reported a 24% gain in first-half earnings, which came in at $4.7 billion. Analysts expected earnings to come in between $4.3 and $4.7 billion. The company also announced that its net debt would fall to $14.4 billion at the end of the fiscal year, a drop of $4.5 billion from where it stood in September. Vodafone closed up $3.88, or 11.3%, to $38.31.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of 31 cents a share, right in line with the First Call/Thomson Financial estimate and 2 cents higher than the year-ago 29 cents. Sales rose to $45.7 billion from $40.9 billion. The company did not discuss its fourth quarter in the initial release of information about the third quarter. Wal-Mart ended the day up $1.56, or 3.5%, to $46.88.

Williams-Sonoma

(WSM) - Get Report

announced third-quarter earnings of 4 cents a share, missing the First Call/Thomson Financial estimate by a penny and falling way short of the year-ago 16 cents a share.

Sales increased to $398.7 million from $324.1 million, but net income was the real disappointment and true tell of the company's third quarter. Income dropped to $2.3 million from $9.2 million. A slowdown in consumer spending, high catalog advertising costs and increased shipping prices were all cited as factors in the miss. William-Sonoma closed up $1.25, or 7.1%, to $18.75.

After Monday's Close

Grey Advertising

( GREY) reported earnings of $3.82 a share. Grey closed down $40, or 6.8%, to $550.

Harmonic

(HLIT) - Get Report

restated third-quarter results after one of its broadband access customers returned $4.1 million worth in products. Working from the revised numbers, the company said it lost 10 cents per share, rather than 8 cents per share. Harmonic closed down $1.56, or 10.96%, to $12.69.

Mascotech

( MSX) reported earnings of 37 cents per share, falling short of the three-broker First Call/Thomson Financial consensus looking for 44 cents a share. The company earned 41 cents per share for the third quarter last year. Mascotech closed up 6 cents, or 0.4%, to $16.69.

Too

(TOO) - Get Report

reported earnings of 20 cents a share, beating the 15-broker consensus by a penny. The company earned 15 cents a share for the year-ago period. Too closed down $4.44, or 25.5%, to $13.

US Oncology

( USON) reported earnings of 12 cents per share, in line with the four-broker estimate. The company earned 15 cents a share at this time a year ago. The stock closed up 69 cents, or 15.5%, to $5.13.

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Analyst actions

Boy, the way that

Napster

played, MP3s that made the hit parade, guys like

CMGI

( CMGI) had it made -- those were the days. Please note the past tense.

Back in the day, about 11 months ago, when the Web was still red-hot and things such as B2B were

the

primo stocks to own, CMGI was an industry leader in another red-hot area of the Web world -- Internet incubation. But things have changed. CMGI is no longer a market darling, having seen its stock price plummet to the teens from a 52-week-high of $163.50.

Lately, the company has been telling anyone who will listen that it is trying to become profitable by the end of fiscal 2001, and has made steps in recent days to do so, selling its iCast Web entertainment portal and ditching unit 1stUp.com. It also dropped Furniture.com and MotherNature.com in recent weeks. But analysts have soured on the company and its competitors, too. Simply put, Web incubation is now seen as a risky investment, not a potentially lucrative one.

Influential

Merrill Lynch

analyst

Henry Blodget dropped CMGI to long-term buy from long-term accumulate, while reiterating its current short-term accumulate rating. In the report released this morning, Merrill credited the company for its attempts to take losses off the balance sheet, but said there still was a long way to go.

"While our prior concerns about the cash position have been alleviated, the company faces major restructuring, integration, divestment and other executional challenges which will likely continue through the balance of 2001," Blodget wrote. CMGI was also downgraded to hold from buy at

Credit Suisse First Boston

. CMGI closed up 31 cents, or 2.2%, to $14.81.

Downgrades

Global Crossing

( GX): DOWN at

Lehman Brothers

: price target to $28 from $50. Global Crossing closed up 88 cents, or 4.96%, to $18.50.

Startek

(SRT) - Get Report

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at CSFB; price target to $48 from $78. Startek closed down $2.63, or 12.7%, to $18.

MCN Energy

(MCN) - Get Report

: DOWN to market perform at

Goldman Sachs

.

Avis Group

(AVI)

: DOWN to hold at CSFB. Avis closed up 13 cents, or 0.4%, to $32.

Initiations

Corning

(GLW) - Get Report

: NEW buy at

ABN Amro

; price target: $144. Corning closed up $7.50, or 12.7%, to $66.50.

Jack in the Box

( JBX): NEW accumulate at Merrill Lynch. The stock closed up 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $26.75.

Newell Rubbermaid

( OMNY): NEW market perform at Goldman Sachs. Newell ended the day down 13 cents, or 0.6%, to $19.69.

Krispy Kreme

( KREM): NEW intermediate-term reduce, long-term accumulate at Merrill Lynch. Krispy Kreme closed down $3.94, or 4.5%, to $83.44.

Omnisky

( OMNY): NEW strong buy at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

; price target: $25. Omnisky closed up $3.44, or 38.2%, to $12.44.

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Offerings and stock actions

Automatic Data Processing

(AUD)

said its board of directors has approved a quarterly cash dividend of 10.25 cents, up 17% from the year-ago period. The company's stock closed up $1.88, or 2.9%, to $66.94.

If you own two shares of

Barra

(BARZ)

, then now you own three. Congratulations! The company announced a 3-for-2 stock split this morning. Barra ended the day up $3.13, or 5%, to $65.13.

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Miscellany

ICG Communications

( ICGX), which sells telephone and Internet services to businesses, announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Probably a wise move, considering that ICG closed flat at 31 cents.

If you don't "got milk," then you probably got brittle bones. But now,

Roche Holding

, a Swiss company, and

deCode Genetics

( DCGN), its Icelandic partner, might help change that. The duo announced that they have winnowed the genetic field and closed in on the gene that believed to be a determinant for osteoporosis. Researchers found the chromosomal site of the gene seen as a contributor to risk-factors for the brittle-bone disease. deCode closed up 75 cents, or 3.9%, to $19.88.

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

announced today that it would devote the Dr. Evil-worthy sum of a half-billion dollars to support its Code Division Multiple Access technology, better known as CDMA. This investment marks the creation of a new entity, Qualcomm Ventures, which will support the CDMA technology that is the heart of Qualcomm's wireless business. CDMA is one of three standards currently engaged in heated competition for global market share.

Qualcomm Ventures will give money to start-ups that will use its CDMA technology in new products, with investments coming in amounts up to $10 million for the lucky early to mid-stage companies that receive money. The stock closed up $5.31, or 7.1%, to $80.38.

Hispanic Web portal

quepasa.com

( PASA) announced that it is laying off 38 people, or about two-thirds of its work force, and is considering selling the company. The stock closed down 9 cents, or 25%, to 28 cents.

Hey, if you're a fan of portable scooters and those glass domes that make lightning shoot from your fingers, then news that the

Sharper Image

( SHRP) will open more stores next year should make you happy. The company said it will open a dozen new stores in fiscal 2001, while completing the finishing touches on a flagship New York store in Rockefeller Center, its ninth new store in a year when the company only planned to open six new stores. Sharper Image closed up 69 cents, or 4.3%, to $16.63.

After Monday's Close

Internet services firm

marchFIRST

( MRCH) said it plans to eliminate 1,000 jobs, or about 10% of its work force. It expects to save about $100 million annually as a result of the layoffs. The stock lost 13% today on the news. The company's stock also plunged

last month after marchFIRST wrote off 10% of its anticipated revenue. The stock closed up 19 cents, or 4.8%, to $4.09.

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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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