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Updated from 11:26 a.m. EST.



, announcing earnings ahead of schedule, said Wednesday its full-year net profit grew 37% from a year ago but that its operating profit slipped 11% and was hurt significantly by second-half losses at its North American Chrysler division.

The automaker posted an unadjusted net profit of 7.9 billion euros, or $7.35 billion, up from 5.7 billion euros a year ago. But operating profit was 9.8 billion euros, down from 11 billion euros a year ago. Excluding one-time gains from the sale of nonautomotive units, net profit fell 44% to 3.5 billion euros from 6.2 billion euros, and operating profit dropped 49% to 5.2 billion euros from 10.3 billion euros.

Adjusted earnings per share for 2000, excluding one-time items, were 3.47 euros, or $3.26, down from 6.21 euros, or $6.49, in 1999. The 13-broker consensus of analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

were expecting full-year earnings of $3.33 a share. DaimlerChrysler reported full-year 2000 sales that rose 8% to 162.4 billion euros.

There's been speculation that the company faces a

hostile takeover, just more bad news after a Jan. 29 announcement that the

biggest retrenchment in the U.S. auto industry in nearly a decade at its troubled Chrysler unit. DaimlerChrysler closed up 16 cents, or 0.3%, to $48.39.

The earnings continue to trickle in, though none quite as significant as DaimlerChrysler or Cisco.

wrote the following stories this morning:

Equitable Resources Powers Past Targets

Allstate Earnings Surpass Targets

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TheStreet Recommends

Trigon Healthcare Beats Estimates by a Penny

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

After Tuesday's Close

Merger talks between

Hughes Electronics



News Corp.


have intensified, and the two sides believe they could reach a deal within the next few weeks, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal

reported Tuesday night that while several issues need to be resolved, the companies have tentatively worked out an agreement. The report, citing sources close to the situation, said

General Motors


, the parent of Hughes, would spin off the operation. News Corp.'s closely held

Sky Global Networks

satellite business would then be merged into Hughes, creating an independent, publicly traded company.

Shareholders of Hughes would own roughly 64% of the merged company, with News Corp. owning the rest, the report indicated.

Hughes closed down $2.96, or 10.7%, to $24.75; News Corp. closed up $1.27, or 3.4%, to $38.77 and GM closed down $3.39, or 1.97%, to $56.15.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Harrah's Entertainment


reported a loss of $1.41 a share for the quarter, short of earlier guidance given when the company warned on Jan 18. Harrah's, the casino and hotel operator, said bad weather and bad investments hurt results. The company said Jan. 18 it expected to lose between $1.40 and $1.36 per share, but this fell short of that figure.

The company lost $161 million for the quarter, compared with earnings of $59 million for the year-ago period. Harrah's earned 47 cents for the year-ago quarter. The company's results were also affected by reorganization costs related to the announced bankruptcy of

National Airlines

, in which Harrah's had a 48% stake. Harrah's closed up $1.58, or 5.1%, to $32.60.

News Corp.


reported earnings of 26 cents a share, ahead of the five-broker consensus looking for earnings of 19 cents a share. The company earned 25 cents a share for the year-ago period.

Revenue, however, was flat when compared with the year-ago period. The company's revenue for the quarter was $3.85 billion, down slightly from $3.857 billion a year ago.

Ryder System


, the trucking company, reported earnings of 46 cents a share, in line with estimates. The company earned 10 cents a share at this time a year ago. Ryder closed up 28 cents, or 1.5%, to $19.53.

After Tuesday's Close



was one of the last big firms to report. The networking giant posted second-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, a penny less than the

First Call/Thomson Financial

32-analyst estimate, but up from year-ago earnings of 12 cents a share.

The company reported that second-quarter revenue growth slowed far more sharply than analysts had expected, falling 6% short of the consensus target.

On a postclose conference call, Cisco CEO John Chambers said the second quarter was "more challenging than we anticipated" due to the declining health of the U.S. economy and the telecom industry spending slowdown. Cisco closed down $4.69, or 13.1%, to $31.06.

wrote about Cisco's bad news and what helped cause it in a

separate story.

There were still some earnings reports trickling out as earnings season dries up:

Aether Systems Easily Beats Estimates

Boston Scientific Misses Estimates by a Penny

ChipPAC Tops Lowered Estimates, but Cuts Near-Term Guidance

CNet Warns Revenue Will Plunge in First Quarter

MicroStrategy Easily Beats Fourth-Quarter Estimates

Novatel Wireless Beats Expectations

Edwards Lifesciences


posted fourth-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, 2 cents better than the revised nine-analyst estimate of 24 cents a share and above year-ago earnings of 16 cents a share. The

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate had been 30 cents before the company warned in October that earnings would come in below expectations. The company said it anticipates 2001 earnings to increase 20%. The company also said it remains comfortable with analysts' estimates of 97 cents a share for 2001. Edwards closed up $1.23, or 7.1%, to $18.50.

Bob Evans


said its same-store sales rose 5%. Bob Evans closed down 13 cents, or 0.6%, to $19.69.



posted fourth-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst estimate of 36 cents a share and up from year-ago earnings of 18 cents a share.

The company said its fourth-quarter results reflected higher realized prices for and deliveries of Inco-source nickel and platinum-group metals, partially offset by higher nickel unit cash cost of sales. The company said it is "comfortable" with the current First Call 13-analyst consensus estimate of $1.64 a share for 2001.

Also, Inco announced that its chairman and CEO Mike Sopko was stepping down this spring, assuming the role of non-executive chairman. Sopko will be succeeded by Inco's president, Scott Hand. Inco closed up 25 cents, or 1.5%, to $16.98.

MKS Instruments


, which makes semiconductor test equipment, posted fourth-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, a nickel better than the First Call six-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 26 cents a share.

The latest quarter's figure is for income before amortization of intangible assets related to acquired businesses.

The company said that it expects first-quarter earnings of 41 cents to 43 cents, which would miss the current five-analyst estimate of 44 cents a share. MKS said that sales in each of the first two quarters of 2001 could be less than its fourth-quarter sales because of uncertainty in the industry. MKS closed down 56 cents, or 3%, to $17.94.

Rite Aid


said same-store sales rose 12.3% from a year ago in January. Rite Aid closed up 19 cents, or 4.4%, to $4.50.



, which is the world's largest jeans maker, posted fourth-quarter earnings of 71 cents a share, 2 cents below the nine-analyst estimate and down from year-ago earnings of 82 cents a share.

The earnings excluded charges of 67 cents a share associated with a restructuring plan. The company, which makes apparel under such brands as Lee, Wrangler and North Face, said fourth-quarter profit fell 15.6% before restructuring charges, as difficulties with recent acquisitions took their toll.

VF said it continues to expect earnings of $3.21 to $3.28 a share in 2001, with sales slightly above 2000 levels. First-quarter earnings could be flat to slightly down, with a low single-digit increase in sales, the company said. VF closed down 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $35.71.

Analyst actions

In the made-for-TV movie during the 1980s,

The Day After

, things didn't look too good in Kansas City after someone decided to drop an atomic bomb on it.




this morning, well, let's just say that the fallout from

last night's earnings disappointment might not be a nuclear winter, but it's not looking too good for the stock this morning. Cisco was downgraded this morning to buy from strong buy at

Lehman Brothers

and its target was cut to $36 from $45,

Salomon Smith Barney

cut its price target to $65 from $80,

Credit Suisse First Boston

cut its rating to buy from strong buy and lowered its price target to $45 from $60,

SG Cowen

cut its rating to buy from strong buy and its price target to $47 from $55,

Robertson Stephens

lowered its rating to attractive from buy and

ING Barings

cut its price target on the stock to $42 from $50.


Dow Chemical


: UP to strong buy from hold at CSFB; price target of $42. Dow Chemical closed up $1.18, or 3.6%, to $33.65.

PacifiCare Health Systems


: price target UP to $45 from $35 at Lehman. PacifiCare closed up $8.75, or 35.4%, to $33.50.

Pitney Bowes


: UP to outperform from neutral at Salomon Smith Barney. Pitney Bowes closed up 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $34.98.

Tommy Hilfiger


: UP to buy from attractive at Robertson Stephens. Tommy Hilfiger closed up $1.15, or 7.6%, to $16.20.



: DOWN to neutral from buy at Salomon Smith Barney. closed down 69 cents, or 17.7%, to $3.19.

Apartment Investment & Management


: intermediate-term rating DOWN to neutral from accumulate at

Merrill Lynch

. Apartment Investment & Management closed down 84 cents, or 1.9%, to $44.22.



: price target DOWN to $125 from $200 at

W.R. Hambrecht

. Broadcom closed down $9.69, or 10.5%, to $82.81.

CNet Networks


: DOWN to neutral from buy at W.R. Hambrecht. CNet closed down 94 cents, or 5.9%, to $14.94.



: intermediate-term rating DOWN to neutral from accumulate at Merrill Lynch. Entravision closed down $4.90, or 29.7%, to $11.60.

General Growth


: DOWN to outperform from buy at Salomon Smith Barney. General Growth closed down $2.08, or 5.7%, to $34.38.

Newmont Mining


: price target DOWN to $ 11 from $13 at Lehman. Newmont closed up 13 cents, or 0.9%, to $15.08.

Radiant Systems


: price target DOWN to $40 from $60 at CSFB. Radiant Systems closed up $1.06, or 5%, to $22.25.


Dime Bancorp


: NEW intermediate-term accumulate at Merrill Lynch; price target: $33. Dime closed down 49 cents, or 1.7%, to $29.01.

Embarcadero Technologies


: NEW buy at CSFB. Embarcadero closed up $1.94, or 3.9%, to $51.75.

Investment Technology


: NEW buy at Salomon Smith Barney; price target: $65. Investment Technology closed up $1.17, or 2.4%, to $50.42.

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Offerings and stock actions

After Tuesday's Close



said it will buy back up to $55 million of its shares through 2001. Applebee's closed up $1.06, or 3.3%, to $33.75.

Frontier Airlines


set a 3-for-2 stock split to be distributed as a dividend to shareholders. Frontier closed up 38 cents, or 1.1%, to $36.25.

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Bristol-Myers Squibb


named Peter Dolan, company president, to be its next chief executive officer. He'll succeed Charles Heimbold on May 1, when Heimbold retires. Bristol-Myers Squibb closed up $1.43, or 2.3%, to $64.98.

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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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