Technology -- at least the big guys -- has been the real star of late, and today's no different. While the other major equity indices flailed in the red for much of the morning (albeit not all that violently), the
Nasdaq Composite Index
has perked its head above the flatline all day. Not long ago, the
joined the Nasdaq in positivity.
Most notably in techland,
was making its investors beam after a
Wall Street Journal
report said Mister Softee is close to creating a tracking stock for its
Internet unit. The stock was climbing 3.5% -- that's record territory -- on 28.2 million shares.
Tom Burnett, senior trading advisor at
Wall Street Access
, said today, being the monthly expiration of options on stocks and index futures, is an important day but a quiet one.
"Volatility is down under 20 -- it's a calm, quiet phase," the trader said, adding that many folks are waiting to hear what
will say Thursday during his semiannual
testimony before Congress. "Puts are low priced, the VIX
Market Volatility Index
was over 60 last fall with all those concerns out of Russia and Latin America. Now it's at 19."
Burnett continued: "So I sense complacency. People are relaxed now that the bond rallied and we're way under 6%. They're feeling comfortable here. ... The market environment is good, but there's no hot story. We can't just make things up. I think we're headed for a correction but that could be months away. It's hard to predict these things."
As for earnings, he said "there's no rhyme or reason" to figuring out what investors' response will be to company earnings news. "And we got all the bad news early.
already told us they would miss and so they had no impact when they reported. Even
which missed second-quarter earnings estimates by 2 cents a share this morning is only down three-quarters of a point. It's all so counter-intuitive:
which announced a 2-for-1 split last night rallied earlier but now it's down?" Cat was lately off 0.2% and Texan was down 0.7%.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
, meanwhile, was losing 32 to 11,154 after an earlier high of 11,194.90. Upside standouts were
, rallying on upgrades from
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
. Leading on the downside were
Procter & Gamble
The aforepraised techtastic Nasdaq was jumping 17, or 0.6%, to 2856, below an earlier high of 2860.25. Along with Microsoft,
was performing well.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was giving back 8 to 642.
The broader S&P 500 was up 1 to 1411 while the small-cap
was down 2 to 464.
The 30-year Treasury was up 10/32 to 91, yielding 5.90%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early
Market internals were weak. On the
New York Stock Exchange
, decliners were leading advancers 1,577 to 1,173 on 427 million shares. And the downs had the ups 1,907 to 1,728 on 635 million shares in
Nasdaq Stock Market
activity. Still, new 52-week highs were outpacing new lows 70 to 21 on the Big Board and 182 to 18 on the Nasdaq.
Friday's Midday Watchlist
Investors were bidding up Microsoft 3 5/16 to 97 3/4 ahead of its earnings report Monday. The usual Softee earnings optimism was getting an extra boost today from a
Wall Street Journal
report that the tech giant is closer to creating a tracking stock for its Microsoft Network properties; the paper wrote that Microsoft may make an announcement as early as next week.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
No one's very excited about the news that
Cyprus Amax Minerals
are combining in a $764.2 million stock transaction. Cyprus Amax was lately off 11/16, or 4.7%, to 13 7/8, while Asarco was down 11/16, or 3.6%, to 18 9/16. Cyprus Amax shareholders will get 0.765 shares of the new company, to be called Asarco Cyprus, for each share of Cyprus Amax they hold, giving them about a 64% stake in the new company. Asarco shareholders will exchange their stock for Asarco Cyprus shares at a 1-for-1 ratio. Not impressed,
Warburg Dillon Read
cut Cyprus Amax to hold from buy.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
Air Products & Chemicals
was shedding 4 3/16, or 10.1%, to 37 1/8 after it warned that it expects to report third-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, below the 12-analyst
outlook of 56 cents a share and down from the year-ago 63 cents.
Investors aren't selling too hard on Dow component Caterpillar's bad news today. The stock was off a scant 1/8 to 59 after the company said it earned 78 cents a share in its second quarter, 2 cents below the 20-analyst consensus and down from the previous year's $1.20. Caterpillar also said it expects 1999 earnings to be 20% to 25% lower than in 1998.
was sinking 2 11/16, or 4.9%, to 52 9/16 after it warned that its profit margins may shrink later this year. Schwab posted second-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, a penny above the eight-analyst view and up from last year's 9 cents.
In other earnings news:
was up 2 1/8 to 46 7/8 after last night posting second-quarter earnings in line with lowered analysts' estimates. The razor-blade maker earned 26 cents a share, matching the 13-analyst view but falling below the year-ago 33 cents.
Horace Mann Educators
was dumping 2 15/16, or 10.2%, to 26 after warning that its second-quarter earnings will be about 34 cents a share, 16 cents below the six-analyst call and slightly up from last year's 31 cents.
was moving up 6 1/2, or 17.8%, to 43 3/16 after yesterday reporting second-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, 2 cents on top of the 11-analyst vision and up from last year's 10 cents. The company also yesterday named its CEO and co-founder, Amnon Landan, to the additional post of chairman.
Newport News Shipbuilding
was up 1/2 to 31 5/8 after reporting second-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, excluding one-time items, above the two-analyst estimate of 52 cents and up from the year-ago 45 cents.
was up 1/4 to 41 7/8 after posting second-quarter earnings of 33 cents a share, beating the three-analyst estimate of 30 cents, but down from the year-ago 35 cents.
was rocketing up 11 1/2, or 16.4%, to 81 1/2 on the heel's of yesterday's hot earnings report. The company said it earned 23 cents in the second quarter, a nickel above the 18-analyst view and up from the year-before 15 cents.
was slumping 3 3/16, or 10.6%, to 26 13/16 after yesterday reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 30 cents a share, 4 cents below the 11-analyst consensus and up from the previous year's 9 cents. Morgan Stanley started the disk drive maker with a cool neutral rating today.
was off 5/16 to 87 1/2 after posting second-quarter earnings of 88 cents a share, excluding nonoperating items, a penny ahead of the 14-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 75 cents, excluding nonoperating items.
was up 5 3/8, or 10.1%, to 58 9/16 after it yesterday reported second-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, 2 cents above the 17-analyst estimate and up from the previous year's 8 cents a share.
Offerings and stock actions
isn't done yet. The high-speed DSL firm was lately up a further 10 3/4, or 21%, to 61 7/8, the day after it rocketed about 240% in its trading debut.
was booming up 35 1/2, or 209.1%, to 52 1/2 in its first day of trading. Lead underwriter
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
priced Paradyne at $17 a share yesterday, above its $14-$16 pricing range.
Alcoa was up 1 3/16 to 61 15/16 after Morgan Stanley upgraded it to strong buy from neutral.
was falling 3 15/16, or 7.5%, to 48 1/2 in the face of another downgrade, this time from
, which cut the company to long-term buy from buy. Yesterday
BancBoston Robertson Stephens
cut Finova to long-term attractive from buy on concerns over the financial services firm's profit margins. Finova reported second-quarter earnings of 83 cents a share yesterday morning, in line with the 17-analyst view and up from the previous year's 68 cents.
Gains from Net deals can disappear as quickly as they come.
was giving back 2 9/16, or 10.3%, to 22 5/16 after racing up 19% yesterday after it said it will put together an audiobooks channel on the Microsoft Network site
It's not clear why
was clambering up 6 7/16, or 11.1%, to 65 3/4. But there it was, clambering nonetheless.