Updated from 12:51 p.m.

The bulls might have gotten

a boost from Abby Joseph Cohen, but no one is whooping when it comes to

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

.

Rather, the market waits with bated breath on the fate of the Internet juggernaut after the company backed out of an appearance at an Internet conference and trading was halted. Yahoo's conference call is tentatively scheduled for sometime after the bell, according to media reports.

Fanning the cloud of concerns,

Merrill Lynch

analyst

Henry Blodget put out a research report today saying he'd never known of Yahoo! to back out the day before it was scheduled to speak.

Exploring four commonplace reasons for last-minute cancellations, Blodget didn't rule out any of them to explain Yahoo!'s quiet today: an earnings miss, a major acquisition, Yahoo's acquisition by another company or a management change.

TheStreet.com

recently wrote a

separate story on Yahoo! The company's stock, halted 7 minutes into the open, was $1.44, or 6.4%, lower to $20.94.

The weakness in the Internet ad market has pounded Yahoo! shares in recent months, and Wednesday's earnings shortfall at

Wall Street Journal

publisher

Dow Jones

(DJ)

, which said

WSJ

ad volume fell 32% in February, suggests significantly broader ad market weakness.

Dow Jones expects to earn somewhere between 16 cents and 20 cents a share. For the first quarter, falling way short of the nine-broker

First Call/Thomson Financial

consensus estimate looking for 56 cents a share. Dow Jones closed down $4.38, or 7.1%, to $56.97.

Declining advertising revenues have swept across the media world in recent months, affecting print, television and online organizations. Dow's warning follows Monday's

announcement of a shortfall from the

New York Times

(NYT) - Get Report

, which said softer advertising was responsible for the fall in earnings. The New York Times' stock closed down $1.10, or 2.6%, to $41.78.

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Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Baxter International

(BAX) - Get Report

said it expects earnings growth somewhere in the midteens and expects sales growth in the low double-digits. Baxter closed down $4.09, or 4.3%, to $90.34.

Witching hour came last night for communications chipmaker

Broadcom

(BRCM)

. It lowered earnings and revenue estimates for the first quarter, citing slowing in the economy and weaker customer orders.

Broadcom said it expects

earnings per share for the quarter to come in between 8 cents and 9 cents, compared with the current estimate of 25 cents a share from the 18 brokers surveyed by earnings tracker

First Call/Thomson Financial

. The company also said it expects revenue to come in between $315 million and $325 million. Broadcom said order delays picked up in February, reflecting declining demand.

Yesterday,

Semi

, the international trade association of the semiconductor industry, reported weakening demand for chips across the industry. The book-to-bill ratio, that is to say the ratio of orders filled to shipments, fell to 0.81 in January from 0.99 in December. That signifies that orders were 19% lower than shipments for the month. This figure has been falling steadily since the summer.

The Irvine, Calif.-based company took great pains to catch people unaware, tossing out the warning around 10:30 p.m. EST, right when people on the East Coast are settling in for the night. But they certainly noticed this morning. Broadcom closed down $7.63, or 15.9%, to $40.25.

Again, it's the visibility thing.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

chairman Andy Grove said in a conference call yesterday that he doesn't see demand for semiconductors snapping back quickly. On the call, hosted by

Lehman Brothers'

Dan Niles, Grove didn't provide any new earnings guidance for upcoming quarters, but he pointed out that PC demand is likely to remain weak, and that problems in the U.S. could extend to Asia and Europe.

"All major end-markets are having problems, including PCs, wireless and networking," Lehman wrote in its morning comment summarizing the call. Lehman lowered earnings estimates for the first quarter to 19 cents a share from 21 cents a share, and dropped fiscal 2001 estimates to 90 cents from $1. Intel closed up $1.44, or 4.6%, to $32.94.

Pericom Semiconductor

(PSEM)

, an integrated-circuits maker, became the latest company in the chip sector to lower its guidance, citing a significant glut in inventory. It projected third-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, while First Call analysts expected 22 cents a share. Pericom closed down 69 cents, or 4.8%, to $13.63.

PurchasePro.com

(PPRO)

reiterated its previous 2001 first-quarter and full-year guidance, both of which would come in higher than the Street's estimates. PurchasePro.com closed up $1.44, or 14%, to $11.69.

Toys R Us

(TOY)

posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street's expectations by a penny.

The toy retailer earned said it earned $251 million, or $1.23 a share, up from $235 million, or 98 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Ten analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial expected $1.22 a share. Toys R Us closed up $1.40, or 5.8%, to $25.55.

Venator

(Z) - Get Report

, which operates

Foot Locker

and

Champs Sports

, reported fourth-quarter earnings ahead of analysts' forecasts and said it expects first-quarter and full-year earnings to be in line with the Street's expectations. Venator closed up 60 cents, or 5.2%, to $12.20.

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Analyst Actions

Over the past four trading sessions,

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

has gone bananas, jumping 35% as investors rush back into technology. But

Credit Suisse First Boston

sees a lot of peels out there on the roadway and advised its investors that the company's fundamentals do not warrant such a move.

Analyst Tim Mahon said he did not see any compelling data points to suggest that Micron should have gained close to $10 since last Wednesday. Quite the opposite, really. Mahon said that recent data suggest that Micron's inventory levels are still quite high, with products made in the first week of January only now making it into the marketplace. That suggests that Micron's inventory levels are at a range of about eight to nine weeks, not a good situation to be in.

Due to the high inventory levels and an increase in Japanese product in the marketplace, Mahon wrote that the company could be starting to dump products at the end of its fiscal year.

"In addition, we have seen evidence recently of original equipment manufacturers dumping excess product out the back door in their attempts to manage inventory levels," he wrote. "We believe this sort of action is very negative for the segment as it shows that customers believe they can buy product at a lower price in the future."

Indeed, Mahon said that this phenomenon was one of the early warning signs of weakness back in August. Meanwhile, chip prices continue to slide, dropping 69% since October and 46% from December.

Credit Suisse First Boston reiterated its hold on Micron, telling investors that the lack of market demand and high inventory levels will continue to plague the company, especially since chip prices continue to slide.

"Without a material and broad-based end-market pick up, we believe it will be impossible for prices to stop declining, let alone start a sustainable rebound," the analyst wrote. Micron closed down $2.86, or 6.5%, to $41.

TheStreet.com

covered the other major analyst moves in briefs from earlier in the day:

  • Merrill Cuts Corning Estimate, Sees Broader Industry Slowdown
  • Whoa, Nellie! CSFB Says Micron Upswing Unwarranted
  • Lehman Analyst Sees Some Entertainment Companies as Recession-Proof
  • Siebel Fights Back After Analysts' Body Blows Continue
  • Goldman's Cohen Boosts Equity Allocation

Upgrades

Image placeholder title

BE Aerospace

(BEAV)

: UP to buy from hold at Credit Suisse First Boston. BE Aerospace closed up 88 cents, or 3.7%, to $24.88.

Henry Schein

(HSIC) - Get Report

: UP to market outperform from market perform at

Goldman Sachs

. Henry Schein closed up $2.38, or 7.8%, to $32.94.

Downgrades

Broadcom

(BRCM)

: DOWN to market perform from market outperform at Goldman Sachs. The 2001 earnings per share estimate on the company was crushed -- dropped to 45 cents a share from $1.25 a share. As noted above, Broadcom closed down $7.63, or 15.9%, to $40.25.

CommScope

(CTV) - Get Report

: DOWN to accumulate from neutral at

Merrill Lynch

. CommScope closed down $1.62, or 7.6%, to $19.58.

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at

Lehman Brothers

. General Mills closed down 11 cents, or 0.2%, to $45.10.

InterNAP Network Services

(INAP) - Get Report

: DOWN to hold from buy at Credit Suisse First Boston. It was also cut to hold from strong buy at

ING Barings

. InterNAP closed down $2.44, or 56.1%, to $4.91.

Orbotech

(ORBK) - Get Report

: DOWN to market outperform from U.S. Recommended for Purchase List at Goldman Sachs. Orbotech closed down $5.56, or 13.5%, to $35.56.

Siebel Systems

(SEBL)

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at ING Barings. Siebel closed up $2.56, or 8.8%, to $31.56.

Initiations

M&T Bank

(MTB) - Get Report

: NEW buy at Lehman Brothers; price target: $80. M&T Bank closed up $1.01, or 1.5%, to $69.76.

Third Wave Technologies

(TWTI)

: NEW strong buy at Lehman Brothers; price target: $20. Third Wave Tech closed up 38 cents, or 4.1%, to $9.44.

Group Moves

Lehman Brothers analyst Stuart Linde initiated coverage on the entertainment sector in a note to investors, titled "It's Show Time: Positive on Entertainment Sector." That pretty much sums up the whole note, in which Linde started coverage on five companies.

"We believe these companies offer investors a safe haven," he wrote. "Stick with companies that can leverage their brands across multiple platforms and operate low capital expenditure business models."

Linde said that the companies' limited exposure to the advertising market plus growth in entertainment spending would them some recession resistant. The following companies were initiated by Lehman:

  • Crown Media Holdings (CRWN) was started at strong buy with a $27 price target. Linde said he liked Crown's family-themed content and estimated that the company could break even in 2003 with subscriber growth would expand by double-digits until 2005. Crown Media closed up 38 cents, or 1.9%, to $19.75.
  • Concerned over Walt Disney's (DIS) - Get Report broadcasting holdings and the affect slowing gross domestic product growth would have on theme park revenues, Lehman started the blue-chip at buy with a $34 price target. That said, Linde was pleased with the company's five-year outlook, citing strong DVD sales and a rejuvenated theme park division. Walt Disney closed up 25 cents, or 0.8%, to $29.98.
  • Liberty Media Group (LMG.A) was named a top pick and started at strong buy. "Liberty is well positioned to participate in the media sector resurgence we foresee over the next 12 months through its portfolio of programming, cable and technology assets," the analyst wrote. The stock closed down 21 cents, or 1.3%, to $15.77.
  • Six Flags (PKS) , the theme park people, was started at strong buy, unlike amusement rival Disney. Given a price target of $28, the company was called a "pre-eminent out-of-home entertainment brand that is recession-resistant" by Linde, who said that regional theme parks outperform destination parks when the economy cools. Six Flags closed up 67 cents, or 3%, to $22.91.
  • Media juggernaut Viacom (VIA) - Get Report was called a top pick, started at strong buy and given a price target of $74 due to its outstanding growth prospects. Earnings growth is expected to come in at 20% annually for the next three years, while free cash flow grows by 25% through 2002 -- giving Viacom an superior edge on competitors. "Viacom is the only media company with dominant positions in every industry segment -- cable, television, radio and outdoor and film production," Linde wrote. "This creates leverage over advertisers and the upper hand over competitors." Viacom closed up 20 cents, or 0.4%, to $49.82.

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Miscellany

Cablevision

(CVC)

today named Robert Lemle, a 19-year company veteran, as its vice chairman. Cablevision closed down 73 cents, or 0.9%, to $81.58.

Coke

(KO) - Get Report

has hired Steven Hayer, the president and chief operating officer of

AOL Time Warner's

(AOL)

Turner Broadcasting System, to take over Coke's new business ventures unit. The move represents the first time Coke has hired an outsider to run a division in many years. Coke closed up 63 cents, or 1.3%, to $50.43.

Dell Computer

(DELL) - Get Report

said today Kevin Rollins and James Vanderslice now share the titles of president and chief operating officer, which replace their previous positions as vice chairmen. Neither the corporate president nor COO titles had been used recently at the company, Dell said. The stock closed down 25 cents, or 0.95%, to $25.94.

Shares of troubled loan firm

Finova

(FNV) - Get Report

were halted after it said it filed for one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history as part of the planned takeover by

Warren Buffett's

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRKA)

and

Leucadia National

(LUK)

.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., Finova and eight of its operating units will list $11.4 billion in liabilities and $12.5 billion in assets. Finova closed up 20 cents, or 9.6%, to $2.28; Berkshire Hathaway closed flat at $71,100; and Leucadia was up 50 cents, or 1.5%, to $35.10.

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After Thursday's Close

Albany Molecular Research

(AMRI)

reported stronger-than-expected earnings after the bell Tuesday. The company, which does chemical research, reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share, topping the First Call/Thomson Financial estimate of 20 cents. During the year-ago quarter, the company earned 12 cents a share. Albany Molecular closed down $3.98, or 8.5%, to $43.13.

Bob Evans Farms

(BOBE)

said its same-store sales rose by 4% during February. The company owns over 450 restaurants and distributes fresh and fully cooked sausage products, frozen rolls, biscuits and entrees to grocery stores. Mmmm, sausage products. Bob Evans closed down 13 cents, or 0.6%, to $19.88.

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

Tuesday evening sent another shudder through the already shaky optical-networking sector, slashing the

earnings and sales guidance it set three weeks ago.

The Toronto-based maker of optical-networking components projected third-quarter earnings of 14 cents a share on sales of $925 million. The Street consensus, according to First Call/Thomson Financial, called for earnings of 17 cents on sales of $1 billion. For the fourth quarter, JDS predicted earnings of around the same level, against a consensus estimate of 16 cents.

JDS said the shortfall reflects "continued uncertainty in carrier capital spending prospects and customer inventory adjustments, as well as a lower level of near-term sales visibility" than JDS has had in recent periods. The ongoing economic slowdown and a pullback in telecommunications industry spending have hurt stocks across the sector in recent months. The company had made the comments Tuesday afternoon in a Web cast presentation to

Thomas Weisel Partners

,

Reuters

reported.

After slipping 31 cents during regular trading to $28, JDS dropped $1 in after-hours trading on

Island

to $27. JDS shares, after a huge run-up in 1999 and early 2000, are now 80% below their year-ago level. JDS closed down $1.06, or 3.8%, to $26.94.

Journal Register

(JRC)

, a publisher of 22 daily newspapers, said it was comfortable with its first-quarter earnings estimates of between 16 cents and 19 cents a share and for the full year of $1.05 to 1.08 a share.

ValueVision International

(VVTV)

, owner of a home shopping network and other direct sales outlets warned that it expects to post lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results due to the effects of the bankruptcy of

Montgomery Ward

, a partner of the company. The company said it expects to have earned 6 cents to 7 cents a share. Analysts, according to First Call, were expecting the company to earn 11 cents during the quarter. ValueVision closed down $1.06, or 7.7%, to $12.69.

WorldCom

(WCOM)

was up in this morning's trading after the

Wall Street Journal

reported in its "Heard on the Street" column that CEO Bernard Ebbers has expressed interest in selling the telecommunications company.

While no deal is imminent, the paper said Ebbers would be willing to sell for around $35 a share. WorldCom closed up 50 cents, or 3%, to $17.19.

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