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Wednesday's Winners & Losers: Redback, J.P. Morgan Chase, AudioCodes, Barnes & Noble, Ceridian

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Updated from 4:07 p.m.

Could the end really be near? Who knows?

America Online

(AOL)

was benefiting from news reports this morning that the

Federal Communications Commission

could give its approval to the proposed merger between AOL and

Time Warner

(TWX)

as early as today.

But it hasn't happened yet.

The

Wall Street Journal

reported this morning that even though a hurdle or two remain, the FCC could give the final stamp of approval needed for the AOL/Time Warner transaction. The

Washington Post

reported today that two of the five members of the FCC board were ready to approve the deal. The

Journal

said just one member seemed to be a holdout.

The FCC approval process, once perceived as a cakewalk compared to the antitrust wringer the companies went through at the

Federal Trade Commission

last year, is proving to be a longer-than-expected course for AOL and Time Warner. The companies' pleas for December approval came to naught.

TheStreet.com

yesterday took a look at the

status of the deal, which has been held up by issues such as opening access to the combined company's high-speed cable systems.

Both stocks have been battered over the past several months, along with the downdraft of the technology sector. But they have climbed higher in recent days of trading. AOL closed up $2.04, or 4.8%, to $44.89; Time Warner was up $2.60, or 4%, to $67.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Corn Products International

(CPO)

said it will miss earnings estimates due to higher energy costs. The company said it will report about $1.70 a share in 2000, compared with the four-broker consensus looking for $1.77 a share for the year. Including charges, the company will earn about $1.34 a share for the year. Corn Products closed down 81 cents, or 2.8%, to $27.88.

Credit issues have forced bank-holding company

Greenpoint Financial

(GPT)

to report a charge to fourth-quarter earnings that will significantly reduce earnings for the quarter.

The company said it will report fourth-quarter earnings of 23 cents to 27 cents a share, sharply lower than the nine-broker consensus looking for 76 cents a share. Greenpoint's revision does, however, include a newly announced charge of 61 cents a share related to a reassessment of some of the securing of manufactured housing loans and home equity. Absent this charge, company officials said in a press release that quarterly earnings would have been in the range of 84 cents to 88 cents per share. Greenpoint closed down 13 cent, or 0.3%, to $36.94.

Coach

(COH)

said it expects to earn more than 85 cents in the fiscal second quarter, which will best analyst expectations for earnings of 77 cents a share.

The company was rewarded with an upward revision of its 2001 and 2001 EPS estimates by

Prudential Securities

. The firm raised Coach's 2001 estimates to $1.36 a share from $1.23 and its 2002 estimates to $1.60 from $1.46. Coach closed up $1.88, or 8.1%, to $25.13.

Dominion Resources

(D) - Get Dominion Energy Inc Report

said it expects earnings per share for 2001 to be 30 cents higher than originally expected, although it did not say specifically how strong earnings would be. Earnings for 2002 are expected to be $4.40 to $4.50 a share, up from previous estimates of $4.10 to $4.18 a share. Dominion ended the day up 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $58.75.

MBNA

(KRB)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, a penny better than the 24-analyst estimate and up from year-ago earnings of 38 cents a share.

Also, the credit card issuer approved a 12.5% increase in its quarterly dividend to 9 cents a share. The stock closed up 38 cents, or 1%, to $36.50.

After Tuesday's Close

AMLI Residential Properties

(AML)

said it expects fourth quarter and 2000 earnings to fall short of estimates due to softness in the economy. The company figures fourth-quarter "funds from operations" to be 68 cents a share, 4 cents below the three-broker consensus. For 2000, earnings of $2.75 a share are expected, also 4 cents below the consensus. AMLI closed down $2.44, or 10.2%, to $21.38.

Barnes & Noble.com

(BNBN)

said sales for the fourth quarter will exceed $103 million, a 36% increase from the year-ago period, but added that it will lose more money than analysts are expecting for the year, thanks to the acquisition of

Fatbrain.com

. The company expects to lose $1.05 to $1.08 for the year, wider than consensus estimates of a loss of 95 cents a share. The company didn't provide earnings guidance for the quarter, but five analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

are expecting the company to lose 24 cents in the quarter. Earlier,

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Barnes & Noble, Inc. Report

,

which owns 40% of Barnes & Noble.com, warned of a shortfall.

And whoa! A sell rating! Prudential cut Barnes & Noble.com to a sell rating from hold. According to First Call, sell ratings currently comprise just 0.8% of all analyst ratings. The stock closed down 28 cents, or 11.7%, to $2.13.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

Bob Evans Farms

(BOBE)

, which runs restaurants in the eastern and southern regions of the U.S., said December same-store sales fell 1% due to snow. Bob Evans closed down $1.19, or 5.9%, to $18.88.

Like competitor Barnes & Noble earlier today,

Books-A-Million

undefined

, based in Birmingham, Ala., said fourth-quarter earnings will fall short of Wall Street's projections. Books-A-Million expects to earn 27 cents to 30 cents a share, lower than the 36 cents it earned in the year-ago period. Two analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial are looking for a profit of 38 cents a share. Books-A-Million closed down 31 cents, or 15.6%, to $1.69.

CEC Entertainment

(CEC)

, which runs Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, said it expects 3 cents to be shaved off earnings in the fourth quarter due to, as they put it in high school, "inclement weather." (It could be argued that more snow days for America's children would improve business for Chuck E. Cheese, but that's nitpicking.) Anyway, the company said earnings are expected to run around $2.43 to $2.44 for 2001, and analysts expect the company to earn 36 cents a share in the fourth quarter. CEC closed up $1.44, or 4.4%, to $34.25.

Cymer

(CYMI)

said Tuesday it was comfortable with its previous financial guidance for the fourth quarter. The maker of excimer lasers, which are used in the semiconductor industry, expects fourth-quarter revenue to grow 4% to 5% over the $97.9 million posted in the third quarter. That translates into revenue of between $101.82 million and $102.8 million. The company didn't address earnings projections, but six analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial are calling for the company to earn 60 cents in the quarter, a significant increase over the 29 cents it earned in the year-ago period. Cymer closed down $1.06, or 3.4%, to $29.81.

Darden Restaurants

(DRI) - Get Darden Restaurants, Inc. Report

said same-store sales for December were expected to rise 2% to 3%.

Salomon Smith Barney

downgraded the stock Wednesday morning to neutral from outperform. Darden closed down 94 cents, or 4.3%, to $21.13.

Evoke Communications

(EVOK) - Get Evoke Pharma, Inc. Report

said Tuesday it expects fourth-quarter revenue to exceed analysts' expectations, but nevertheless plans to take cost-cutting measures that include eliminating about 112 of 320 jobs. The Louisville, Colo., Internet communication services provider also announced the resignation of CFO Terry Kawaja. Evoke said Ken Mesikapp, the current vice president, would be the acting financial chief.

Evoke didn't provide any bottom line figures, but said it would take additional charges related to the job cuts in its first-quarter report. Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial expect a fourth-quarter loss of 36 cents a share, as well as fourth-quarter revenue of $7.52 million.

Robertson Stephens

downgraded the stock to long-term attractive from buy Wednesday morning. Evoke closed down 13 cents, or 7.1%, to $1.63.

SilverStream Software

(SSSW)

, an application server software and services provider, expects to report fourth-quarter numbers that are in line with Wall Street's expectations. The Billerica, Mass., company estimated a fourth-quarter loss, adjusted for goodwill and deferred compensation amortization, of $2.5 million, or 12 cents a share, to $2.8 million, or 14 cents a share. Four analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial expect a loss of 13 cents a share for the quarter, compared with a loss of 34 cents a year ago. SilverStream Software closed down $2.50, or 15.8%, to $13.38.

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TheStreet Recommends

Analyst actions

CIBC World Markets

has downgraded several networking equipment companies this morning, including market behemoth

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

, which it dropped to a hold rating from a buy.

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR) Report

was dropped to a buy rating from a strong buy, and

Redback Networks

(RBAK)

was cut to a hold from a buy today by the brokerage.

Lucent

(LU)

received more favorable treatment, getting upgraded to buy from hold.

Despite CIBC's negative opinion, Redback garnered a positive nod from

Robertson Stephens

.

Cisco closed down 88 cents, or 2.4%, to $36.25; Juniper was up $2.13, or 1.8%, to $119.31; Redback

popped

, up $4.44, or 15.3%, to $40.88; Lucent was up 81 cents, or 4.8%, to $17.63.

Credit Suisse First Boston

analyst Charlie Glavin noted the continuing price war between

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report

and

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Report

, and said the poor environment for PCs (for which both companies supply chips) will cause further pricing pressure through Labor Day, and recommended remaining on the sidelines in these names until at least March. Intel closed up 75 cents, or 2.3%, to $33; AMD was up 38 cents, or 2.2%, to $17.13.

Merrill Lynch

has named

J.P. Morgan Chase

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report

a "focus one" stock, and reiterated its existing buy rating. Merrill said J.P. Morgan Chase is its top financial services pick for 2001, saying the "shares appear deeply undervalued when viewed as an emerging global securities play." The stock closed up $2.25, or 4.6%, to $50.94.

Downgrades

AudioCodes

(AUDC) - Get AudioCodes Ltd. Report

: DOWN to accumulate from strong buy at

Prudential Securities

. AudioCodes closed up $1.66, or 17.97%, to $10.88. This telecom stock went up probably because about two hours after the downgrade announcement, AudioCodes board authorized a 2 million share buyback plan.

Ceridian Corporation

(CEN) - Get Center Coast Brookfield MLP & Energy Infrastructure Fund of Benef Interest Report

: DOWN to market performer from market outperformer at

Goldman Sachs

; 2001 earnings estimates lowered to 65 cents a share from 84 cents a share. Ceridian closed down $2.31, or 11.5%, to $17.88.

Outback Steakhouse

(OSI)

: DOWN to long term attractive from buy at Robertson Stephens. Outback was a bloomin' onion as it closed up $1.56, or 7.1%, to $23.63.

Varian Semiconductor

(VSEA)

: Earnings estimates DOWN for 2001 to $3.50 from $3.95 a share at

Lehman Brothers

. Varian closed up $1.31, or 5.4%, to $25.44.

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Offerings and stock actions

Woronoco Bancorp

(WRO)

announced that it will buy back up to 10% of its outstanding shares. The funny sounding stock ended the day up 38 cents, or 2.9%, to $13.25.

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Miscellany

After Tuesday's Close

Biogen

undefined

said today it expects the number of drugs in its clinical pipeline to double in 2001 and that it currently has 20 projects in its research pipeline. The biopharmaceutical company, based in Cambridge, Mass., said it expects the final trial of its Amevive drug, used in the treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis, by midyear. The company expects to launch Amevive in the second half of 2002.

Biogen expects results from another drug, Antegren, which treats multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease, during the first quarter of 2001, while three other drugs for treating congestive heart failure, autoimmune diseases and glioma will also enter the clinic this year, Biogen said. Biogen closed down 44 cents, or 0.9%, to $51.31.

Martin Marietta Materials

(MLM) - Get Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (MLM) Report

said it will report a massive shortfall for fourth-quarter earnings, primarily due to energy costs.

The highway and building construction company said it expects to earn between 41 cents and 44 cents a share for the quarter, well below the nine-broker

First Call/Thomson Financial

consensus looking for earnings of 67 cents a share. The company also expects to earn between $2.36 and $2.39 a share for the year, compared with earlier expectations for $2.62 a share. Martin Marietta closed down $1.63, or 3.9%, to $40.75.

Cummins Engine

(CUM)

said it will lay off 140 of 700 workers at its plant in Walesboro, Ind., due to a slowdown in the auto industry, and more specifically at

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

. The employees are being laid off due to Chrysler's decision to reduce production on all of its vehicles. Cummins closed down 31 cents, or 0.8%, to $37.56; DaimlerChrysler was down $2.41, or 5.5%, to $41.83.

Norfolk Southern

(NSC) - Get Norfolk Southern Corporation Report

, the railroad operator, said it will pay $28 million to settle a class action lawsuit. Norfolk closed down 25 cents, or 1.6%, to $15.88.

A lawsuit brought by

priceline.com

(PCLN)

against software giant

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report

and its online travel and airline ticket unit,

Expedia

(EXPE) - Get Expedia Group, Inc. Report

, has been settled, according to published reports.

Reuters

reported after the bell that Expedia will pay a royalty fee to priceline.com for its "name your own price" service. Other details of the arrangement are confidential, the companies reportedly said. priceline.com closed up 25 cents, or 13.8%, to $2.06.

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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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