Yahoo!'s Strong Earnings Put a Hop in Tech Stocks

The tech bellwether was up in preopening trading.
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Tech stocks -- the .coms in particular -- are gearing up to lead the market higher this morning.

Mostly it comes down to

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, whose first-quarter earnings

last night are putting a shine on things.

"We have a positive tone after these Yahoo! numbers," said Jim Herrick, managing director of trading of

Robert W. Baird

in Milwaukee. "The conference call went well. Everything was positive." In preopening trade, the stock was up 8 5/8 to 217.

Financial stocks, too, are expected to see another day of gains. The perception of a nascent recovery in Japan, which could lead Asia out of its rut, has helped soothe the emerging-market jitters that have hurt these stocks.

At 9 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500

futures were up 2.2, more than 4 above fair value and indicating strength at the open. The 30-year Treasury was flat at 96 9/32, putting the yield at 5.50%.

Japanese stocks climbed to their highest level since March of 1998 on continued buying by foreign investors, while domestic institutions appear to be testing the waters. The

Nikkei

added 292.19, or 1.8%, to 16,846.69.

But the real action in Japan today lay outside of the Nikkei. On the strength of the earnings of its U.S. counterpart,

Yahoo! Japan

added 32%. So far this year the company has jumped 400%. Today's gains helped send the

Jasdaq

up 1.48, or 3.3%, to 46.73.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

, too, was at a 12-month high after the index gained 112.97 to 11,727.84 -- this in spite of some heavy profit-taking in the closing minutes of trade.

Action in Europe is muted, with many investors sticking to the sides ahead of the

European Central Bank's

decision on rates later today. In Frankfurt, the

Dax

was down 1.05 to 5051.22. In Paris, the

CAC

was up 16.15 to 4334.19.

The

Bank of England

cut its key interest rate 25 basis points to 5.25%, but because the move was so widely expected, it did not garner many cheers from investors. If anything, it was taken as a sign to take profits -- the market dropped 20 points on the news and into negative territory. The

FTSE

was lately off 18.7 to 6454.5.

Thursday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • General Electric (GE) - Get Report posted first-quarter earnings of 65 cents a share, in line with the 13-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 57 cents. GE said its first-quarter operating margin was 16.3% of sales, up from last year's 15.1%, and was a record for the quarter.
  • Yahoo! posted first-quarter operating earnings of 11 cents a share, topping the 25-analyst First Call estimate by 3 cents and the year-ago 2 cents.
  • Wal-Mart's (WMT) - Get Report March same-store sales surged 11.3%. In other news (earnings estimates are from First Call):
  • Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - Get Report warned first-quarter results will fall short of expectations because of competition and continuing production problems with its K6-2 chip. AMD said it sees quarterly revenue of $630 million.
  • AnnTaylor's (ANN) March same-store sales rose 21%.
  • Cisco (CSCO) - Get Report is buying Fibex Systems and Sentient Networks, both of which are privately held, for about $445 million.
  • Goldman Sachs added CVS (CVS) - Get Report to its recommended list, upgrading the drug-store chain's stock from market outperform. Yesterday, CVS said March same-store sales rose 16.9%.
  • Dillard's (DDS) - Get Report said March same-store sales rose 12%.
  • Dollar General's (DG) - Get Report March same-store sales rose 7.8%.
  • Federated Department Stores' (FD) March same-store sales rose 9%.
  • Goody's Family Clothing (GDYS) expects first-quarter results will be "significantly lower" than in the year-ago period. March same-store sales rose 2.7%.
  • H&R Block (HRB) - Get Report is in talks to buy the country's seventh-largest accounting firm, McGladrey & Pullen, The Wall Street Journal reported. Block hopes to announce the buyout by the end of the month, the newspaper reported, citing people close to the matter. Block is expected to pay McGladrey 1 to 1.25 times the firm's annual net revenue plus stock options, the Journal reported, citing people knowledgeable about the talks. The accounting firm's revenue last year totaled $296 million, so the acquisition could be valued at as much $370 million, the newspaper said.
  • Humana (HUM) - Get Report warned first-quarter earnings will be lower than expected due to increased medical costs. The company estimated operating earnings at between 20 and 24 cents a share. The 15-analyst estimate currently calls for earnings of 34 cents. Humana also said it plans to record in the first quarter $90 million in additional medical claims.
  • J.C. Penney's (JCP) - Get Report March same-store sales fell 0.7%.
  • Kmart's (KM) March same-store sales rose 8.1%.
  • Limited (LTD) expects to post earnings a penny above current Wall Street expectations. The 19-analyst consensus estimate sees the company earning 9 cents a share in the first quarter.
  • Office Depot (ODP) - Get Report and America Online (AOL) set a one-year advertising and promotion pact.
  • Onex of Toronto is buying American Buildings (ABCO) for $271 million.
  • Ryder System (R) - Get Report plans to shuffle its top management, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation. M. Anthony Burns, Ryder's chairman, president and chief executive, plans to relinquish the president's job and install a new president and chief operating officer, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the situation.
  • ShopKo's (SKO) March same-store sales rose 17.8%.
  • Talbots' (TLB) March same-store sales rose 9.6%.