D.E. Shaw Reports $1.4 Billion in Capital

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D.E. Shaw

has $1.4 billion in capital and has avoided the kind of big losses that have crumbled other Wall Street firms amid global economic weakness, the hedge fund announced after

BankAmerica

(BAC) - Get Report

reported a $372 million loss tied to its investment in the firm.

E*Trade

(EGRP)

, the No. 2 online broker, reported a loss for the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30 of 13 cents a share, excluding charges. E*Trade took an after-tax charge of 20 cents. Including charges, E*Trade reported a quarterly loss of 33 cents a share, or $15.7 million, compared with earnings of 15 cents a share in the fourth quarter of 1997. The 10-analyst

First Call

consensus estimate, which excludes charges, called for a loss of 14 cents.

E*Trade had informed Wall Street that spending related to its new Web site and technological infrastructure would lead to several quarters of earnings losses, starting in the September quarter.

The company is the first of the major online brokers to report quarterly earnings, and its strong revenue growth, 32% over the same quarter last year, bodes well for

Charles Schwab

(SCH)

and

Ameritrade Holding

(AMTD) - Get Report

. Thanks to a volatile market, transaction volume was up 27% from the fourth quarter of 1997 and up 6% from the third quarter. Accounts grew 19% to 544,000, an addition of 85,000 net new accounts from the third quarter. (At the official launch of the site in September, CEO Christos Cotsakos said he hoped to add 80,000 accounts during the quarter.) Customer assets remained static at $11.2 billion due to the decline in the market, although there were $1.5 billion in new deposits, E*Trade said.

Today E*Trade's stock closed up 1/4 at 13 1/4.

--

Amy Olmstead

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from First Call):

Earnings reports and previews

Avis Rent A Car

(AVI)

reported third-quarter earnings of 83 cents a share, beating the nine-analyst outlook of 76 cents and the year-earlier 45 cents. The company also increased its repurchase program to 5 million shares from 1.5 million.

W.R. Berkley

(BKLY)

warned that it expects to report third-quarter earnings short of the eight-analyst expectation of 61 cents a share. The insurance company cited continuing catastrophe losses. Berkley earned 69 cents a year earlier.

Boole & Babbage

(BOOL)

said it expects to report fourth-quarter earnings of 34 cents a share, beating the three-analyst forecast of 29 cents and the year-ago 24 cents.

DII Group

(DIIG)

said it expects to report third-quarter earnings of 24 cents to 26 cents a share, compared with an 11-analyst estimate of 26 cents and the year-ago 35 cents. The company said it will revise fourth-quarter 1998 and full-year 1999 earnings estimates because of the uncertain future of an expected contract. DII still expects fourth-quarter results to exceed the third quarter's, and it sees 1999 earnings at least 50% higher than 1998's. Estimates call for fourth-quarter earnings of 44 cents, matching the year-ago figure, and $1.87 in 1999.

Additional postclose earnings news is compiled in a separate table

.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

will buy 1 million shares of

ASV

(ASVI)

at $18 a share and warrants to buy a controlling interest in ASV at $21 a share.

Health Risk Management

(HRMI)

said it agreed to pay $10.4 million for

Oxford Health's

(OXHP)

Pennsylvania HMO unit.

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

said it extended the expiration date of its tender offer for France's

DePuy

(DPU)

to Oct. 29 from Friday because of French regulatory processes.

Morrison Health Care

(MHI) - Get Report

said it acquired the closely held

Culinary Service Network

for an undisclosed amount. Morrison said the deal will boost full-year 1999 earnings by 1 cent a share to $1.10 a share and 2000 earnings by 2 cents. The three-analyst view called for $1.09 in 1999 and $1.25 in 2000. In 1998, the company earned 95 cents.

Primestar

, the satellite-television partnership owned by a group of cable operators, abandoned its $1.1 billion bid to buy a satellite slot from

News Corp.

(NWS) - Get Report

. News Corp. said it's pursuing other options for the sale of its slot.

The

Federal Reserve

approved the $25 billion merger of

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

and

Norwest

(NOB)

.

Miscellany

Deputy

Treasury

Secretary

Lawrence Summers

told a Philadelphia audience the current global economic crisis is as serious as any problem the world has faced since World War II -- but that's not the way his comments first hit the wires.

Reuters

, reporting based on an erroneous Treasury Department version of Summers' remarks, said the official called today's crisis as serious as any since World War

I

-- "putting the crisis on par with the Great Depression of the 1930s." The wire service, corrected text in hand, amended the report several minutes later.

Microtest

(MTST)

hired executive search firm

Spencer Stuart

to find a replacement for retiring CEO Richard Meise.

Stewart & Stevenson Services

(SSSS) - Get Report

received a $1.38 billion contract from the

Army

to build 9,350 mew trucks and trailers.