Proof positive that completing the sequencing of the human gene is good for a company's stock: Celera Genomics (CRA) surged 27, or 23.5%, to 142 and helped boost biotechnology sector shares. Celera Genomics was the volume leader on the NYSE at midday.

This morning, investment firm

Goldman Sachs

announced that its "Super Seven" list of hot high-tech stocks include:

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

EMC

(EMC)

,

First Data

(FDC) - Get Report

,

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

,

PMC-Sierra

(PMCS)

and

Teradyne

(TER) - Get Report

.

The news boosted the companies' stocks this afternoon: Cisco advanced 1/2 to 72 5/8; Dell climbed 1 41/64 to 55 9/16; EMC lifted 5 15/16 to 132 7/16; First Data gained 3 1/16, or 7.2%, to 45 13/16; Oracle rose 3 3/8 to 81 11/16; PMC-Sierra jumped 12 3/4, or 7.5%, to 183 9/16; Teradyne hopped 8, or 9.2%, to 95.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Peregrine Systems

(PRGN)

, a provider of infrastructure management software, sunk 19 1/4, or 33.2%, to 38 3/4 after it said it signed a definitive pact to acquire

Harbinger

(HRBC)

in a stock deal valued at $2.1 billion. Harbinger provides business-to-business e-commerce delivery solutions. The deal is structured as a stock swap at a ratio of 0.75 share of Peregrine common stock for each share of Harbinger. Peregrine was cut to market performer from buy at

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

.

Home improvement retailer

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

and

NationsRent

(NRI)

, a construction equipment rental company, set a strategic partnership to operate NationsRent stores within select Lowe's stores. Lowe's fell 1 to 15 5/8, while NationsRent advanced 1/8 to 5 1/16.

Nortel Networks

(NT)

has announced that it will outsource parts of its business, awarding

PriceWaterhouseCoopers

a five-year contract to deal with its non-essential business practices such as human resources, accounts payable, employee training and employee expense reimbursement. Over the course of the contract, the deal is worth $625 million. Nortel Networks advanced 2 5/8 to 119 3/4.

Toyota

(TM) - Get Report

and

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

are jointly developing an electric-gasoline hybrid vehicle and are pondering building a plant in North America to make the car,

The Wall Street Journal

reported, citing a Toyota exec involved in the talks. Toyota lost 5 1/2, or 5.3%, to 98, while General Motors climbed 2 5/8 to 85 1/16.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

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

)

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of 95 cents a share, ahead of the 13-analyst estimate of 91 cents and up from the year-ago 60 cents. Alcoa rose 2 7/16 to 71 5/8.

Internet bellwether

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

reported first-quarter pro forma earnings of 10 cents a share, a penny better than the 24-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago pro forma 3 cents a share. Yahoo! said first-quarter sales more than doubled, while earnings more than tripled and traffic to its Web site increased sharply. Yahoo! fell 4 1/4 to 161 5/16.

The company also said it named Susan Decker as its new CFO, replacing Gary Valenzuela, who will retire in July. Decker was formerly global head of research at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette.

For more on this

story, see the coverage from

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com's

joint newsroom.

Gap

(GPS) - Get Report

said it suffered an 11% drop in March

same-store sales, a steep decline from the year-ago report of a 21% increase. The clothing retailer blamed the disappointing results on "meaningful lower markdowns." The company also said that John Wilson has stepped down from his role as COO. Gap said it would eliminate the position as a part of management restructuring. Gap climbed 3/8 to 43 3/4.

Jupiter Communications

(JPTR)

, an Internet research firm, expects to post first-quarter revenue of $16.5 million, and it anticipates reporting break-even

EBITDA for the first quarter. Jupiter Communications jumped 7 3/4, or 34.8%, to 30.

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

posted a 9.4% drop in March same-store sales. J.C. Penney lost 5/16 to 14 1/8.

Kmart

(KM)

said March same-store sales declined by 1.2% because of the later Easter holiday. Kmart dropped 1/4 to 9 1/16.

Pier 1 Imports

(PIR) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 34 cents a share, beating the 15-analyst estimate of 31 cents a share and up from the year-ago 27 cents. The home furnishings retailer said that March same-store sales increased 12.4%. Pier 1 Imports was down 1 /32 to 11 1/4.

Sodexho Marriott

(SDH)

reported second-quarter earnings of 23 cents a share, a penny better than both the three-analyst estimate and the year-ago report. Sodexho Marriott inched up 1/8 to 13 7/8.

Talbot's

(TLB)

reported a 17.9% increase in March same-store sales. The clothing retailer said it expects to post first-quarter earnings between 87 cents and 90 cents a share, which would beat the 13-analyst estimate of 80 cents a share. Talbot's gained 1 5/8 to 59 1/2.

Tellabs

(TLAB)

warned investors that its would posted first-quarter earnings between 25 cents and 27 cents a share, missing the 27-analyst estimate of 30 cents a share. The telecom equipment company attributed them to lower gross profit margins. Tellabs fell 2 1/4 to 58 3/4.

Wal-Mart's

(WMT) - Get Report

March same-store sales rose 3.6%. Wal-Mart lifted 2 to 60 1/4.

Offerings and stock actions

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

priced a 5.1 million-share IPO for

i3 Mobile

(IIIM)

at the top of its $14-$16 price range, at $16 a share. The shares were up 11 1/2, or 73.4%, to 27 3/8.

ING Barings

priced a 3.15 million-share secondary offering for

Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals

(RZYM)

at $18 per share, for gross proceeds of $56.7 million. Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals slipped 1 3/4, or 7.7%, to 21 1/16.

Analyst actions

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

: price target UP to 130 from 110 at

Thomas Weisel

by analyst Eric Ross. Applied Materials was up 4 1/16 to 108 1/4.

Baxter

(BAX) - Get Report

: STARTED as a buy with a 70 price target at

Credit Suisse First Boston

. Baxter lost 3/16 to 61 5/16.

BellSouth

(BLS)

: UP to buy from neutral, price target to 70 from 61 at

Lehman Brothers

. BellSouth climbed 3/8 to 49 5/8.

Bluestone Software

(BLSW)

: UP to strong buy from buy at

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

. Bluestone Software advanced 4, or 14.9%, to 30 13/16.

Conexant Systems

(CNXT) - Get Report

: UP to strong buy from buy at

Warburg Dillon Read

. Conexant Systems rose 4 3/4, or 7.5%, to 67 15/16.

Digital Island

(ISLD)

: UP to strong buy from buy at Thomas Weisel by analyst Jim Linnehan. Digital Island lifted 2 1/2, or 6.3%, to 41 1/2.

Dollar Tree

(DLTR) - Get Report

: DOWN to hold from buy at Lehman Brothers. Dollar Tree stayed flat at 51 1/8.

Flag Telecom

(FTHL)

: STARTED as a strong buy with a 12-month price target of 45-50 by Warburg Dillon Read analyst Linda Meltzer. Flag Telecom hopped 3 3/8, or 19.9%, to 20 3/8.

Fortune Brands

: STARTED as a market performer with a 12-month price target of 27 at

J.P. Morgan

. Fortune Brands moved up 1 1/8 to 25 15/16.

Internet Capital Group

(ICGE)

: RESTARTED with a strong buy at Alex. Brown. Internet Capital Group lifted 3 3/8, or 4.5%, to 77 1/16.

National Semiconductor

(NSM)

: UP to strong buy from buy at Warburg Dillon Read. National Semiconductor gained 6 3/4, or 11.6%, to 64 7/8.

Papa John

(PZZA) - Get Report

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at Thomas Weisel by analyst John Weiss. Papa John fell 1 3/8 to 29 3/4.

Polymedica

(PLMD)

: STARTED as a buy with a 67 price target at CSFB. Polymedica rose 1 9/16 to 54 9/16.

QXL

(QXLC)

: STARTED as a strong buy at

SG Cowen

. QXL soared 32 3/4, or 146.3%, to 55 1/4.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

(REGN) - Get Report

: STARTED as a long-term buy with a 12-month price target of 30 by J.P. Morgan analyst Franklin Berger. Regeneron climbed 2 1/8, or 9.9%, to 23 11/16.

Tellabs: DOWN to outperform from top pick at

ABN Amro

.

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

: NEW strong buy at

CIBC World Markets

. USA Networks ascended 1 1/8, or 5.5%, to 21 1/2.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

: 2000 earnings estimate UP to $1.025 billion; 2001 earnings estimate UP to $1.35 billion from $1.23 billion by

Morgan Stanley's

Mary Meeker. Yahoo! slipped 5 5/16 to 159 5/8.

Miscellany

The

Federal Aviation Administration

found that

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

needs to toughen up quality controls over its suppliers,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. Boeing said it would comply. Boeing was up 1/4 to 36 1/4.

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

has been charged by the

State Department

with violating arms export laws, according to numerous published reports. Lockheed Martin was ahead 1/2 to 21 7/16.

NorthPoint Communications

(NPNT)

, a broadband services provider, named Michael Glinsky CFO, to succeed Henry "Hank" Huff, who is taking an early retirement. Glinsky recently was CFO of Baby Bell

U S West

(USW)

. NorthPoint Communications gained 1 1/4, or 6.8%, to 19 5/8.

The Heard on the Street column in

The Wall Street Journal

today reports that some investors have resisted buying beaten-down technology stocks. Despite the shrunken tech stock valuation, many traders feel that prices haven't fallen low enough to tempt them to buy more.

Over the past six months,

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

, a Saudi Arabian billionaire, has invested $1 billion in tech stocks,

Reuters

reported. The news agency said that the prince, in a statement, declared he had invested $400 million via a family trust in shares of

America Online

(AOL)

, raising the value of his investment in the online giant to $1.05 billion.

The prince said he also has invested $400 million in computer maker

Compaq

(CPQ)

and $100 million each in

Eastman Kodak

(EK)

and

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

,

Reuters

reported. America Online lifted 2 1/8 to 65 1/8; Compaq was up 1 3/16 to 29 1/16; Eastman Kodak rose 1/16 to 60 1/16 and Xerox advanced 1 1/16 to 26 9/16.