Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report was all over the news today and one of the bits of news had its stock soaring. Microsoft was up 6 3/4, or 6.5%, to 110.

Microsoft and the government could be edging closer to a

settlement deal to resolve the antitrust case against it, according to published reports. The

Washington Post

said, according to sources, the focus is on changes in Microsoft's business practices, rather than any proposal to break up the company.

The Wall Street Journal

said a deal could result in tough restrictions on the software giant's conduct. Citing sources close to the situation, the

Journal

said the talks could still collapse but that the gulf between the two sides is narrowing. Separately, the software titan said it has a pact with

H&R Block

(HRB) - Get Report

for tax products on Microsoft Network. H&R Block was up fractionally to 44 7/16.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Bausch & Lomb

(BOL)

said it offered to buy

Wesley Jessen Visioncare

(WJCO)

for $34 a share, or about $600 million. Bausch & Lomb said its offer is better for Wesley Jessen shareholders than Jessen's proposed $420 million purchase of

Ocular Sciences

(OCLR) - Get Report

,

announced Monday.

On the news, Bausch & Lomb was off 13/16 to 55 9/16. Meanwhile, Wesley Jessen shares were on fire, up 9 1/4, or 32.2%, to 34 1/8. Ocular was off 3/4, or 4.4%, to 16 1/2.

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

shares were higher after the

Journal

reported that the entertainment giant has been quietly lobbying

Congress

over fears that its programming would be denied fair access to

America Online's

(AOL)

Web sites if the online company's merger with

Time Warner

(TWX)

is approved. Disney's stock was up 9/16 to 41 1/16, while AOL was off 1 to 71. Time Warner off slightly, down 3/16 to 101 1/16.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

said it partnered with

TDK

to develop a range of Bluetooth wireless technology products, which allows wireless data exchange between computers, for IBM's ThinkPad laptops. IBM was off 1 5/16 to 112 15/16.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

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

)

Conagra's

(CAG) - Get Report

stock was flat at 17 3/4 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, in line with the 11-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 36 cents.

Cognex

(CGNX) - Get Report

, a supplier of machine vision systems, was soaring 11 3/4, or 24%, to 60 3/4, after it said it expects first-quarter earnings-per-share of about 33 cents, 15% better than the seven-analyst estimate of 29 cents per share.

FedEx

(FDX) - Get Report

was up 2 5/8, or 7.1%, to 39 7/8, after it reported third-quarter earnings of 39 cents a share, including a gain of 2 cents. The 16-analyst estimate called for earnings of 34 cents while the year-ago EPS was 26 cents. FedEx said income rose 45% in the quarter, with earnings beating estimates despite soaring fuel prices.

GST Telecommunications

(GSTX)

fell 5/8, or 7.6%, to 7 5/8, after it posted fourth-quarter losses of $1.88 per share, below the six-analyst estimate of a $1.30 loss per share but better than the year-ago $1.90. The company has also restated 1999 earnings, revising third-quarter earnings at a loss of 52 cents per share compared with the 14-cent loss it originally reported. For the second quarter, the company amended losses at $1.28 per share from a loss of $1.30 per share originally filed. Finally, it restated its first-quarter loss as $1.44 per share, compared with a loss of $1.46 it originally filed.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

gave up 2 33/64 to 87 5/8, after it reported first-quarter earnings of $1.34 a share, better than the 12-analyst estimate of $1.06 and up from the year-ago 88 cents.

Sherwin-Williams

(SHW) - Get Report

was up 1/2 to 21 7/8 after it said its first-quarter earnings will be higher than estimates with sales growing in the mid-single digits from a year ago. The eight-analyst estimate calls for earnings of 20 cents a share.

Sunglass Hut

(RAYS)

slipped 3/16 to 8 1/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 5 cents a share, in line with the eight-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 3 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Blaze Software

(BLZE)

was flying in its trading debut. Blaze Software was up 20 1/4, or 126.5%, to 36 1/4. It was priced at $16 a share, above the estimated $12 to $14 range.

Robertson Stephens

priced 4 million shares. The company provides software that allows companies to personalize interactions around communication channels including the Internet, automated response systems, manned customer service systems and others. The Internet e-commerce play is expected to post strong gains when shares begin trading tomorrow.

Breezecom

(BRZE)

was priced at $20 a share, above the estimated $17 to $19 range. It has not started trading. CIBC World Markets priced 5 million shares. The company is an Israeli manufacturer of wireless access products that enable connectivity to a local area computer networks.

Credence Systems

(CMOS)

was surging on news that its board approved a 2-for-1 stock split. Credence was up 11 1/2, or 8.8%, to 143.

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

set a $3 billion share repurchase program. It was up 3/16 to 63 3/4.

Genzyme Molecular Oncology

(GZMO)

said it would offer 3 million shares of common stock. It was off 2 3/4, or 11.3%, to 21 1/2.

Analyst actions

This morning, Dow component

General Electric's

(GE) - Get Report

rating was upgraded to buy from outperform and its price target was boosted to 200 from 150 at

Lehman Brothers

. General Electric advanced 1 1/4 to 152 1/8.

Bell Atlantic

(BEL)

: named focus one stock at

Merrill Lynch

. Bell Atlantic was up 1 13/16 to 59 11/16.

Compuware

(CPWR)

: rating DOWN to market perform from buy and price target cut to 30 at

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

. Compuware was down 2 15/16, or 10.8%, to 24 5/16.

Dycom

(DY) - Get Report

: coverage INITIATED with a buy rating and a 12-month price target of 54 at

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

. Dycom was up 2 5/16, or 5.2%, to 47 1/4.

Exodus Communications

(EXDS)

: price target UP to 225 from 175 by

Thomas Weisel

analyst Jim Linnehan; 12-month share price target UP to 210 from 175 at Lehman Brothers. Exodus was up 7 5/8 to 177.

Gilead

(GILD) - Get Report

: coverage INITIATED with a buy rating and a 98 price target at Lehman. Gilead was up 3 7/16, or 5.4%, to 67 1/2.

Masco

(MTZ) - Get Report

: coverage INITIATED with a buy rating and an 80 price target at Alex. Brown. Masco was up 3 1/16 to 73.

Palm

(PALM)

: coverage INITIATED with a buy rating and a 12-month price target of 80 at

Bear Stearns

. Palm was up 6 1/16, or 11.8%, to 57 5/8.

Pets.com

(IPET)

: INITIATED attractive at

Bear Stearns

. Pets.com was up 1/4 to 6 1/8.

Quanta Services

(PWR) - Get Report

: coverage RESUMED with a buy rating and a 69 price target at Alex. Brown. Quanta was up 3 3/8, or 6%, to 59 7/8.

Sonicwall

(SNWL)

: coverage INITIATED with a buy rating and a 140 12-month price target at J.P. Morgan. Sonicwall was up 2 3/8 to 93 1/2.

Miscellany

Campbell Soup

(CPB) - Get Report

said Dale Morrison resigned as president, CEO and a director of the company. The New Jersey-based company said its board has appointed David Johnson to serve as CEO until a special committee concludes a search for a new long-term CEO. Johnson had served as Campbell's president and CEO from 1990 to 1997.

The soup company hasn't been looking so

M'm! M'm! Good! of late. It was hit with shareholder lawsuits this year, alleging that company documents misled shareholders about revenue. Last month, Campbell recalled 109,000 pounds of canned vegetable beef soup in 13 states after consumers found long pieces of metal in the soup. What would

Andy Warhol

think? Campbell was off 9/16 to 29 1/8.

The

Washington Post

reported that

Lockheed Martin's

(LMT) - Get Report

board of directors withheld a 1999 bonus from Chairman and CEO Vance D. Coffman at his request because of the defense company's poor financial performance. Lockheed was up 1/8 to 17 1/4.

Meditrust

(MT) - Get Report

said it named Francis Cash as CEO effective April 17. The former CEO, David Benson, resigned in January. Meditrust was off 1/16 to 2 5/8.

British cable television operator

Telewest

(TWSTY)

said it would offer its digital service on 90% of its network by June and aimed to have 500,000 customers by the end of the year.

Merrill Lynch

upgraded Telewest to intermediate-term buy from neutral. Telewest was up 5 1/4, or 7.6%, to 74.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

looks at

Citigroup's

(C) - Get Report

announcement that it is buying the 15% of

Travelers Property Casualty

(TAP) - Get Report

it doesn't already own.

The move suggests Citigroup could be looking to buy other insurance companies using its own higher-priced stock, which sells for about 18 times earnings. Citigroup was up 1/16 to 58 13/16.