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Midday Movers: Ben & Jerry's, Pechiney, Palm and American Freightways

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Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report was seriously battered at midday, down 5.4% to 79 3/8, and was one of the techs leading the Nasdaq down today. Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund announced this morning that he cut his third-quarter revenue outlook for Microsoft to $5.75 billion from $5.95 billion, citing faltering demand for PCs.

"We are reducing our March quarter revenue estimate due to growing evidence that PC unit growth did not likely come up to our expectations," wrote Sherlund. "PC growth was very sluggish from November through February, and while it reaccelerated in March, it does not appear to have occurred fast enough to offset the weakness earlier in the quarter."

It's official: Consumer giant


(UN) - Get Unilever NV Report

is buying

Ben & Jerry's Homemade's


for $43.60 a share, or $366 million. The news boosted the ice cream manufacturer's stock 8 1/8, or 23.3%, to 43 1/8. Unilever, meanwhile, climbed 1 5/16 to 51 1/2.

Separately, Unilever announced it is buying privately owned

Slim-Fast Foods

, the maker of diet shakes and bars, for $2.3 billion in cash. Florida-based Slim-Fast had net sales of $611 million and operating profits of $125 million for the year ended November 1999.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Alcan Aluminium's

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plan for a three-way merger with France's


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and Switzerland's



unraveling in the face of antitrust opposition,

The Wall Street Journal

reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Alcan could announce as early as today that it won't resubmit its merger plan with Pechiney to the

European Commission

and, as a result, may be forced to renegotiate its $4.1 billion deal with Algroup, the story said. Pechiney fell 2 1/2, or 9.4%, to 24 1/16, while Alcan slipped 1/16 to 34 3/16.

ATEC Group

(ATEC) - Get Alphatec Holdings, Inc. Report

, an information technology products and services provider, is buying

, a unit of

Applied Digital Solutions


for $375 million in stock. ATEC Group climbed 1/2, or 13.3%, to 4/14, while Applied Digital Solutions moved down 17/32, or 6.6%, to 7 9/16.

Level 3 Communications


slipped 2 7/8 to 79 after it said it would sell a 25% ownership stake in its undersea cable system to



. The part-ownership stake is valued at over $150 million. Viatel dropped 15/16 to 37.





said they will form a venture to use TeraBeam's fiberless optical networking system that provides high-speed data networking between local and wide area networks. Under terms of the agreement, Lucent will invest $450 million in cash, research and development, and products in the venture. Lucent also said it will create 500 jobs as it invests $150 million over the next three years in a major extension of a plant in Dublin. Lucent fell 1 5/16 to 56 1/8.



was down 3, or 7.5%, to 35 5/8, having said it is in a deal for


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to offer an expanded Palm line. Dell was trading down 2 9/16 to 52 7/8.

A dozen or more oil and chemical companies including

Royal Dutch/Shell Group


BP Amoco



Dow Chemical

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are planning to launch an electronic exchange later this year, the


reported. The story said the companies expect the exchange will account for tens of billions of euros of their spending in the first year alone. BP Amoco slid 1 1/8 to 51 1/16, while Dow Chemical rose 1 1/4 to 118 15/16.


(TLS) - Get Telos Corporation Report

, an Australian telecommunications company, announced a strategic alliance with

Pacific Century CyberWorks

that will allow each company to expand its regional reach in Asia's telecommunications market,

The Wall Street Journal

reported in its online edition. Telstra will invest a total of $3 billion in cash in CyberWorks and a new joint venture between the two companies. Telstra edged up 5/8 to 23 1/8.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews


Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.


American Freightways


posted first-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, well above the 7-analyst estimate of 30 cents and the year-ago earnings of 21 cents.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

lifted its rating to strong buy from buy and 2000 EPS estimates to $1.96 from $1.71 and 2001 EPS to $2.25 from $1.90. American Freightways advanced 1 1/4, or 7.5%, 17 7/8.


(AVP) - Get Avon Products, Inc. Report

said it sees first-quarter earnings beating the 11-analyst estimate of 29 cents by a couple of cents. The direct seller of beauty products also said first-quarter revenue may have risen by as much as 9%. Avon 5 7/16, or 18.6%, to 34 3/4.

Checkpoint Software Technologies

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posted first-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, above the 16-analyst estimate of 35 cents and up from the year-ago 24 cents. Checkpoint Software inched up 1/2 to 170.



warned that fourth-quarter earnings will come in between 13 cents and 15 cents a share, far below the 15-analyst estimate of 35 cents. The company said it expects to announce its earnings on May 1.

J.P. Morgan

downgraded Compuware to market perform from buy. Compuware lowered 7 9/16, or 38%, to 12 1/2.

Delphi Automotive


lifted 1 1/16, or 6%, to 18 7/8, after posting first-quarter earnings of 57 cents a share, a penny better than the 14-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago pro forma 50 cents.

Dow Jones


posted first-quarter earnings of 88 cents a share, before a special gain, well ahead of the 10-analyst estimate of 80 cents and up from the year-ago 44 cents, which is before a special gain. Dow Jones fell 1/8 to 71 3/4.



boosted 4 1/16, or 6%, to 73 3/16, after it reported first-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, above the 20-analyst forecast of 37 cents and the year-ago 34 cents.



posted breakeven results for its fiscal second-quarter, far above the 15-analyst estimate, which expected the online broker to lose 16 cents. E*Trade advanced 1/16 to 23 1/2.



posted first-quarter pro forma earnings of 28 cents a share, ahead of the 11-analyst estimate of 26 cents and up from the year-ago 22 cents. Genentech dropped 2 3/4 to 133 3/4.



advanced 1 11/16 to 45 15/16. The Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer reported stronger-than-expected earnings of 26 cents a share, smacking down the 12-analyst estimate of 24 cents and easily outpacing last year's 19-cent return.

J.P. Morgan

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reported first-quarter earnings of $3.37 a share, far above the 10-analyst estimate of $2.81, and up from the year-ago $3.01. Net income totaled $628 million, up from $600 million in the year-ago period. Return on common equity was 23% in the quarter, compared with 22% in the first quarter of 1999. J.P. Morgan said strong momentum in equities, investment banking and asset management services powered its top-line growth in the quarter. J.P. Morgan climbed 3 3/4 to 138 1/2.

Time Warner


, which is being acquired by

America Online


, posted first-quarter earnings of 5 cents a share, better than the eight-analyst estimate of 2 cents. Time Warner slumped 4 3/8 to 91 3/8, while AOL fell 3 1/8 to 62 3/8.

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posted a first-quarter loss of 16 cents a share, narrower than the three-analyst expected loss of 19 cents and the year-ago loss of 33 cents. The company said it expects strong year-over-year sales growth in the second quarter. traded up 1/16 to 6.

Offerings and stock actions

Credit Suisse First Boston

priced 4 million shares of


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at $8 each. The company provides software and professional services to financial Web sites and online financial providers. Corillian lost 3/8 to 7 5/8.


(PLUS) - Get ePlus inc. Report

slipped 3, or 9.5%, to 28 1/2 after it priced a follow up public offering for the sale of 1 million shares, at $28.50 a share.



slipped 7/8 to 18 9/16, having said an offering of 4 million ADRs was priced at $18.50 each, lower than it had initially expected.

Analyst actions


(AG) - Get First Majestic Silver Corp. Report

: UP to buy from hold at

ING Barings

. Agco got a nice boost and was up 7.4% to 11 13/16.


(APA) - Get APA Corp. Report

: coverage RESUMED with a strong buy and 12-month price target of 63 at

Warburg Dillon Read

. Apache had edged up 1 1/4 to 49 9/16.

Caremark Rx


: NEW buy rating and 12-month target price of 10 at

Chase H&Q

. Caremark was taking a beating, however, and was down 7.7% to 6.


(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report

: NEW buy and 12-month target of 70.

General Motors

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: NEW attractive rating and 12-month target of 95 at


. Ford was up 2 1/16 to 54, while General Motors had edged up 1 5/8 points to 89 1/16.



: price target UP to 86 from 54 at

Thomas Weisel

by analyst Eric Gomberg. Hadco was up 1 1/8 to 63 1/4.



: buy reiterated and target set at 188 at Warburg Dillon Read. Motorola slid 5.7% to 116 15/16.



: NEW near-term accumulate and long-term buy, 12- to 18-month price target of 50 at

Merrill Lynch

by analyst Kirsten Campbell. Multex dropped 6.5% to 28 7/64.

Owens Corning


: DOWN to market performer from the recommended for purchase list. Owens Corning lost 9.9% to 18 3/4.



: DOWN to market outperformer from trading buy at

Goldman Sachs

by analyst Kimberly Ritrievi. Praxair edged down 1/4 to 44 5/16.

StarMedia Network

(STRM) - Get Streamline Health Solutions, Inc. Report

: 2000 revenue estimates UP to $54 million from $44.9 million and 2000 earnings estimate up to a loss of $2.20 from a loss of $2.35 at Thomas Weisel by analyst Gordon Hodge. StarMedia Network rose 11/16 to 16 1/4.

US Airways

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: DOWN to neutral from attractive and United Airlines parent


(UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report

DOWN to attractive from buy at PaineWebber. US Airways slid 5.9% to 28, while UAL lost 2 1/8 to 62 15/16.



: DOWN to market performer from market outperformer at Goldman Sachs. Even so, USG was up 1 1/2 to 41 1/4.


PTEK Holdings


said it would get a range of Internet services from

MCI Worldcom


as part of a settlement. The telecommunications company said in a statement that it and MCI Worldcom had agreed to end their original strategic agreement and dismiss a lawsuit filed in June. PTEK Holdings slid 1/4 to 5 9/16, while MCI Worldcom fell 1/4 to 42 1/8.


University of Rochester

said it was awarded a patent for the use of the entire class of drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors, and that university attorneys had filed a patent infringement suit in federal court against




(PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report

, the pharmaceutical companies that jointly market blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex. Cox-2 inhibitors like Celebrex are heralded for their effectiveness in killing pain, but without side effects such as stomach pain, bleeding or ulcers. Searle is the drug division of


. Monsanto is a privately held company.

The university said that the patent awarded Tuesday entitles it to royalties on the sale of all Cox-2 inhibitors. According to the university, doctors prescribed Celebrex to 6.4 million patients in 1999, pushing its first-year sales to $1.5 billion. Pfizer's shares were sitting quietly, however, up 1/4 to 40 1/16.

The Heard on the Street column in the


said analysts are seeking new ways to justify rising share prices of some technology giants. The story looks at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

analyst George Kelly, who has covered


(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

since the company went public in 1990. Kelly has kept a close eye on the company, often raising his target price along with the stock's ascent, the story said, adding that analysts now say investors are calling the shots on share prices, even when it comes to big stocks with predictable earnings growth. Cisco was off 6.3% to 65 11/16.

As originally published, this story contained an error. Please see

Corrections and Clarifications.