Dell (DELL) - Get Report was sliding 7/8 to 37 7/8 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, a penny ahead of the revised First Call/Thomson Financial 29-analyst estimate and the year-ago earnings. The consensus estimate was lowered from 21 cents a share, excluding the gain, following Dell's Jan. 26 announcement that it expected to report fourth-quarter net income of about 16 cents a share, including an investment gain of 1 cent a share.

Dell said its profit growth was slowed by parts shortages and a sales slowdown tied to Y2K fears. Net income was $436 million, compared with $425 million in the year-ago period.

Credit Suisse First Boston

re-emphasized its strong buy rating on

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

. The computer maker last night announced earnings of 16 cents a share, a penny better than the restated

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate.

For more on Dell's

earnings, see the swell coverage from

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom.

Five IPOs have made their trading debuts during today's session. For more pricing and trading information, check out

TheStreet.com's

Offerings and stock action coverage.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Cameron Ashley Building Products

(CAB)

was popping 2 1/16, or 14.5%, to 16 1/4 after it said it has received an unsolicited takeover offer from

Guardian Industries

for $17 a share, or $148.1 million, based on the 8.71 million shares of Cameron Ashley outstanding.

InfoCure

(INCX)

was lifting 2 1/8, or 10.5%, to 22 1/4 after it said that

Healtheon/WebMD

(HLTH)

would take up to a $100 million stake in its

VitalWorks.com

division before its IPO. Healtheon would purchase $10 million in cash convertible preferred stock, converting into 1% interest after VitalWorks goes public. Healtheon will also invest another $90 million after the IPO. Healtheon/WebMD was climbing 2 to 56 15/16.

National Westminster Bank

(NW)

, also know as NatWest, told its shareholders to accept

Royal Bank of Scotland's

$34 billion offer. Natwest has been a takeover target for both Royal Bank of Scotland and

Bank of Scotland

, who were in a bidding war over the bank. This week, three of NatWest's biggest shareholders threw their support behind the Royal Bank's offer. NatWest was rising 2 to 110.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

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

)

Dole

(DOL) - Get Report

was edging up 11/16 to 14 3/4 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 4 cents a share, a penny better than the four-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 13-cent loss.

Electrolux

(ELUX)

of Sweden reported income for 1999 after financial items of $716 million, a little above expectations, according to

Reuters

. The company expects continued good demand in North America this year in all product areas, while in Europe, it expects market conditions to improve in 2000 compared to 1999. Electrolux was slipping 2 to 44 3/8.

Howmet

(HWM)

was falling 1/16 to 18 1/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 33 cents a share, beating the six-analyst estimate of 28 cents and up from the year-ago 19 cents.

Pep Boys

(PBY) - Get Report

was losing 1/8 to 6 15/16 after it reported a 3.8% decline in fourth-quarter same-store sales.

Scaba

(SCG)

was not trading after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share, greatly missing the six-analyst estimate of 32 cents and down from the year-ago 30 cents.

Trigon Healthcare

(TGH) - Get Report

was moving up 9/16 to 33 3/16 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of 62 cents a share, edging out the 15-analyst estimate of 59 cents and up from the year-ago 49 cents.

Twinlab

(TWLB)

was declining 1/4 to 7 7/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 12 cents a share, a penny shy of the two-analyst estimate and down from the year-ago 26 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Analyst actions

Salomon Smith Barney

upped its rating on

American General

(AGC)

to strong buy. American General was mounting 2 7/8, or 5.4%, to 55 15/16.

SG Cowen

sliced its rating on

Applied Graphics

(AGTX)

to buy from strong buy. Shares of Applied Graphics was sliding 7/8, or 11.6%, to 6 11/16.

CIBC World Markets

upped its rating on

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

to buy from hold. Alcoa was bouncing 2 7/8 to 68 3/8.

J.P. Morgan

initiated coverage of

D&S

(DYS)

as a market performer. D&S was down 1/16 to 22 15/16.

Banc of America

cut its rating on

Fatbrain.com

(FATB)

to buy from strong buy. Fatbrain.com was shedding 5 5/8, or 26.7%, to 15 3/8.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

raised its rating on

Grupo Radio Centro

(RC) - Get Report

to buy from market perform. Grupo Radio Centro was edging up 3/8 to 9 1/4.

Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown

raised its rating on

Harbinger

(HRBC)

to buy from market perform. Harbinger was bouncing 15/16 to 30 1/8.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

upgraded

Keane

(KEA)

to outperform from neutral. Keane was sliding 1 9/16, or 5.6%, to 26.

Merrill Lynch

upgraded

Nabors Industries

(NBR) - Get Report

to intermediate-term buy from accumulate. Nabors was adding 1 5/16 to 33 3/16.

Banc of America

raised its price target on

Network Solutions

(NSOL)

to 400 from 375. Network Solutions was soaring 22 1/2, or 7.7%, to 315 1/8.

Salomon Smith Barney

upped its price target on

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

to 65 from 55. Nucor was hopping 1 3/4 to 47.

Merrill Lynch upped its rating on

Office Depot

(ODP) - Get Report

to an intermediate, long-term buy from accumulate. Office Depot was declining 1/2 to 13 1/8.

Merrill upgraded its intermediate-term rating on

Royal Dutch Petroleum

(RD)

to buy from accumulate. Royal Dutch was gaining 3/8 to 55.

Merrill upgraded its intermediate-term rating on

Shell Transport

(SC) - Get Report

to buy from accumulate. Shell Transport was rising 5/16 to 44 1/16.

PaineWebber

raised it rating on

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Report

to buy from attractive and upped its price target to 35 from 30. Sunoco was climbing 13/16 to 24 3/4.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter upped its price target for

Telecom Argentina

(TEO) - Get Report

to 58 per ADR from 35 per ADR. Telecom Argentina was unchanged at 45 7/8.

DLJ upgraded

TV Azteca

(TZA) - Get Report

to buy from market perform. TV Azteca was declining 1/16 to 13.

Bank of America raised its price target on

Triquint

(TQNT)

to 300. Triquint was leaping 20 1/2, or 8.9%, to 249 3/4.

Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown upped its rating on

Wink Communications

(WINK)

to buy from market perform. Wink Communications was lifting 4 5/8, or 7.1%, to 69.

Lehman Brothers

rolled out coverage of

XM Satellite Radio

(XMSR)

with a buy rating and a price target of 60 for 2000. XM Satellite Radio was rising 2 11/16, or 9%, to 32 5/8.

Miscellany

Cabletron Systems

(CS) - Get Report

was tacking on 1/4 to 36 15/16 after it said it plans to reorganize its core business into four independent operating companies in order to better focus on high-growth areas of the communications market.

The new companies --

Riverstone Networks

,

Enterasys Networks

,

Global Network Technology Services

and

Aprisma Management Technologies

-- will focus on service provider, enterprise electronic business, professional services and infrastructure management, the company said. Cabletron said the four units eventually will be separate, publicly traded companies.

Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

was falling 3/16 to 105 3/4 after it said it tapped Michael Parker as its new president and CEO.

Internet heads will talk to the

Clinton

administration next week on how to respond to this week's Web attacks,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. According to the

Journal

, the attacks sparked concerns about whether the government is doing enough to protect the Internet.

Usually when a company loses a court fight it means bad things for its stock, but that wasn't the case for shares of

Medco Research

(MRE)

this week, the Heard on the Street column in

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

The Delaware Chancery Court ruled on Wednesday, in a suit filed by the Wisconsin Investment Board, that Medco will delay for at least 15 days a shareholder vote -- which was set for yesterday -- on its planned takeover by

King Pharmaceuticals

(KING)

for no more than $397 million, or $34 a share, the column said.

In response, Medco shares rose 7% yesterday, the column reported. The stock rose because Medco shareholders stand to gain about $50 million from the ruling, according to a lawyer with the Wisconsin Investment Board, which owns 11.6% of Medco, the column said. The board filed the suit to block the merger, citing its value, the column said. Medco Research was unchanged at 31 and King Pharmaceuticals was adding 13/16 to 51.

The Inside Wall Street column in

Business Week

, written by Gene Marcial, reports that some big investors believe

America Online

(AOL)

,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

are separately interested in buying

StarMedia Network

(STRM) - Get Report

, an Internet media company for Spanish and Portuguese-language audiences. AOL was skidding 5/8 to 57 5/8.

The column also includes an item on

Southdown

(SDW)

, the second-largest cement producer in the U.S., whose stock has soared from 46 in early December to 57 7/8 lately, in part because a number of investors think that Southdown is a takeover target. Southdown was climbing 1 1/4 to 57 7/16.

Also in the column,

Emcor Group

(EMCG) - Get Report

garners bullish mention. Emcor Group was gaining 1 1/4, or 6.1%, to 21 1/4.