Semiconductor stocks were getting a lift from optimistic earnings news and positive research. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index was rising 1.2%.

Fairchild Semiconductor

jumped 3 7/16, or 10.8%, to 35 5/16 while

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

gained 6 3/8, or 7.3%, to 94 1/4.

Fairchild's price target was raised to 52 from 48 by

Credit Suisse First Boston

. Last night, the company announced its first-quarter revenues were running 6% higher than fourth-quarter 1999. Applied Materials' price target was also raised, to 125 from 112, from CSFB.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

America Online

(AOL)

added 1 7/8 to 63 7/8 after it and

Bertelsmann

of Germany said they are restructuring their interests in AOL Europe and AOL Australia. Using put and call mechanisms, AOL would ultimately buy out Bertelsmann's share of the interests at a cost of $6.75 billion to $8.25 billion, if the options are exercised. Payment in either cash or stock at AOL's discretion would be made after Jan. 31, 2002.

The companies also set a new global alliance to expand distribution of Bertelsmann's media content and e-commerce properties over AOL's brands worldwide. Under a four-year pact which is valued at $250 million, Bertelsmann will become a preferred provider of media content and e-commerce to the more than 23 million members of AOL's interactive services and over 135 million consumers of its Web-based brands.

Cruise line giant

Carnival

(CCL) - Get Report

dropped 3 15/16, or 14.6%, to 22 5/8 after it and Malaysia's

Star Cruises

decided to end their previously announced joint venture to buy

NCL Holding

for $1 billion. Carnival said it and Star could not agree on the detailed terms of the venture.

Separately, Carnival reported first-quarter earnings of 28 cents a share, in line with the 18-analyst

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate and up from the year-ago 26 cents. The company warned, however, that weaker ticket pricing due to slower booking patterns, compounded by increased fuel costs, could cause second-quarter profits to be slightly lower than the year-ago second quarter.

The company added, however, that it believes that earnings for the second half of fiscal year 2000 will be stronger and estimates that for the entire fiscal year 2000, earnings will be up 8% to 10% from fiscal year 1999. The 17-analyst estimate calls for the company to earn 37 cents in the second quarter.

Complete Business Solutions

(CBSI)

, an information-technology services concern, climbed 3, or 12.5%, to 26 15/16 after it unveiled a new e-business expansion strategy, which will be helped out by $200 million of growth capital from a fund managed by

Clayton Dubilier & Rice

.

Ford

(F) - Get Report

climbed 1 15/16 to 45 3/4 after saying it is buying the Land Rover sport utility unit from German luxury automaker

BMW

for almost $3 billion.

lastminute.com

(LMIN)

, which went public this week, will provide

NTL

(NTLI)

with content for its interactive shopping and travel channels. lastminute.com added 1/2 to 31 1/2, while NTL gained 3 5/8 to 106 1/16.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

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

)

American Xtal Technology

(AXTI) - Get Report

dropped 3 7/8, or 11%, to 28 15/16 after it said its fourth-quarter earnings will not meet already lowered expectations and also said it will restate its results for the year's first three quarters. The company now expects to report a fourth-quarter profit of 5 cents to 8 cents a share because of higher-than-expected losses at its Lyte Optronics unit. The current five-analyst estimate calls for earnings of 14 cents a share.

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

lost 1 1/4 to 34 1/2 after posting better-than expected third-quarter earnings last night. The strong results occurred amid a decline in sales, partly because of the dollar's strength against the euro. The company reported earnings of 52 cents a share, 2 cents better than the 13-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 44 cents. Total revenue fell 1% to $2.162 billion from $2.177 billion a year earlier. European revenue fell 7%, to $558.5 million, hurt by a rising dollar against the common European currency.

Rayonier

(RYN) - Get Report

dropped 1 1/16 despite saying it sees first-quarter earnings beating the seven-analyst estimate of 53 cents, by as much as 15 cents to 20 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

inched up 5/8 to 53 5/8 after it said it will list its wireless tracking stock on the

New York Stock Exchange

following an IPO expected this spring.

Carolina First

(CAFC)

slipped 1/16 to 14 13/16 after it said it was rescinding its share repurchase program in order to satisfy requirements for its $300 million acquisition of

Anchor Financial

(AFSC)

.

Cysive

(CYSV)

dropped 2 7/8 to 85 7/8 after it said a secondary offering of 3 million shares was priced at $87 a share. Of the shares being offered, 1.5 million are from Cysive and 1.5 million are from certain stockholders.

Robertson Stephens

priced 4.6 million shares of

Integrated Information Systems

(IISX)

at $15 each, above the expected $12-$14 range. Shares were lately rising 6 7/8, or 45.8%, to 21 7/8.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

priced 8 million shares of

Netpliance

(NPLI)

at $18 each, the top of the estimated $17-$18 range. Netpliance was lately moving 4, or 22.2%, to 22.

Goldman Sachs

priced 11 million shares of

Universal Access

(UAXS)

at $14 each, above the estimated range of $11-$13. The company buys and sells unused network capacity. Shares were lately popping 21 5/16, or 152.2%, to 35 1/8.

Analyst actions

Bear Stearns

cut its earnings-per-share outlook for the first and second quarters on

Gateway

(GTW)

. Bear maintained its buy rating on the stock. Gateway rose 1 1/2 to 57 1/2.

>

Adobe Systems

(ADBE) - Get Report

: Price target UP to 120 from 90 at Banc of America. Adobe Systems dropped 5 5/8, or 6%, to 88 7/8.

Aetna

(AET)

: NEW buy at

J.P. Morgan

; price target: 90. Aetna fell 5/16 to 53 5/16.

American Tower

(AMT) - Get Report

: REITERATED buy at

Lehman Brothers

; price target up to 58 from 55. American Tower advanced 4 3/8, or 9.7%, to 49 3/8.

Applied Micro Circuits

(AMCC)

: UP to intermediate-term buy from intermediate term accumulate at

Merrill Lynch

. The firm also raised its risk rating to high from average. Applied Micro Circuits soared 15 9/16, or 6.3%, to 262 9/16.

Beckman Coulter

(BEC)

: UP to buy from outperform at

Lehman Brothers

; price target UP to 72 from 60. Beckman Coulter was down 1 5/16 to 57 7/8.

Bemis

(BMS) - Get Report

: UP to strong buy from buy at

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

. Bemis slipped 9/16 to 33 1/4.

BlackRock

(BLK) - Get Report

: DOWN to intermediate-term accumulate from buy at Merrill Lynch due to "strong absolute and relative price performance." BlackRock fell 3/8 to 24.

British Telecommunications

(BTY)

: NEW buy at

TST Recommends

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

. British Telecommunications decreased 3 1/2 to 198 1/2.

Career Education

(CECO) - Get Report

: REITERATED strong buy at CSFB. Career Education ascended 7/8 to 33 1/2.

Columbia/HCA

(COL)

: NEW recommended list at Goldman Sachs. Columbia/HCA declined 1/2 to 24 7/16.

Cumulus Media

(CMLS) - Get Report

: DOWN to market performer from strong buy at

Banc of America

. Cumulus Media slumped 4 1/8, or 24.4%, to 12 13/16.

Forest Laboratories

(FRX)

: DOWN to hold from buy at

ING Barings

. Forest Laboratories fell 5 9/16, or 6.7%, to 78 1/16.

Health Management Associates

(HMA)

: NEW market outperform at

Goldman Sachs

. Health Management increased 7/8, or 7.1%, to 13 1/4.

Hispanic Broadcasting

(HBCCA)

: DOWN to intermediate-term neutral from intermediate-term accumulate at Merrill Lynch based on valuation. Hispanic Broadcasting dropped 15 1/2, or 12.2%, to 111 9/16.

Jabil Circuit

(JBL) - Get Report

: price target UP to 95 from 82 at CSFB. Jabil Circuit fell 2 7/8 to 83 1/8.

KeySpan Energy

(KSE)

: UP to intermediate-term buy from intermediate-term neutral at

Merrill Lynch

. KeySpan Energy rose 1 9/16 to 24 7/8.

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

: Fourth-quarter earnings estimate UP to 44 cents from 41 cents at

Lehman Brothers

. Nike was down 1 3/8 to 34 3/8.

On Assignment

(ASGN) - Get Report

: DOWN to hold from buy at CSFB. On Assignment slipped 2 7/8, or 6.9%, to 39 1/2.

Province Healthcare

(PRHC)

: NEW buy at

Banc of America

. Province Healthcare advanced 1 1/16 to 25 1/16.

Quorum Health

(QHGI)

: NEW market perform at

Goldman Sachs

. Quorum Health dropped 3/4, or 8%, to 8 5/8.

7-Eleven

(SVEV)

: NEW buy at

Merrill Lynch

. 7-Eleven rose 3/32 to 3 7/16.

Sycamore Networks

(SCMR)

: REINSTATED at buy at CSFB; price target set at 175. Sycamore Networks ascended 4 9/16 to 142.

Tektronix

(TEK)

: UP to market outperform from perform at Goldman Sachs. Tektronix was up 3 1/2, or 5.4%, to 68.

Tenet Healthcare

(THC) - Get Report

: NEW market outperform at Goldman Sachs. Tenet Healthcare moved up 1/16 to 23 15/16.

Triad Hospitals

(TRIH)

: NEW market outperform at Goldman Sachs. Triad Hospitals climbed 1/16 to 14 1/16.

Universal Health Services

(UHS) - Get Report

: NEW market outperform at Goldman Sachs. Universal Health Services slipped 11/16 to 41 1/16.

Miscellany

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

reached a settlement with its engineers' union, the

Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace

, that, if ratified, could end the strike that is in its 38th day.

SG Cowen

upgraded Boeing to strong buy from buy. Boeing advanced 1 3/4 to 37 3/8.

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

reached an agreement to settle class-action litigation filed by former employees of the company stemming from its sale of its infrastructure division to

Ericsson

(ERICY)

.

Under terms of the settlement, $8.9 million, minus attorneys' fees and costs, will be distributed to more than 1,000 former employees covered by the lawsuit. Qualcomm said that, while agreeing to resolve the suit, it paid nothing toward the settlement, with all payments to be made by third parties. Qualcomm said a final settlement-approval hearing has been scheduled for April 28. Qualcomm was up 2 3/16 to 135 1/16, while Ericsson rose 1/16 to 93 5/8.

Viacom

(VIA) - Get Report

said the

Supreme Court

of the State of New York dismissed all claims of television station group

Chris Craft Industries'

(CCN)

unit

BHC Communications

in its litigation over its UPN partnership with Viacom. The ruling cleared the way for completion of Viacom's proposed $37 billion merger with

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

. Viacom was up 1 7/8 to 56 1/4.

Wendy's

(WEN) - Get Report

, the fast-food chain, said its board named John Schuessler as CEO and president effective immediately. Schuessler previously was president and COO of Wendy's U.S. operations. Wendy's founder R. David Thomas continues as senior chairman of the board. Wendy's was down 3/4 to 17 1/2.

The Inside Wall Street column in

Business Week

this week, penned as usual by Gene Marcial, reports there's chatter that

International Paper

(IP) - Get Report

may make a takeover offer for

Champion International

(CHA) - Get Report

, which has already agreed to be acquired by Finland's

UPM-Kymmene

.(

TSC's

Jim Cramer

wrote a

piece this morning on Marcial's picks.)

Elsewhere, the column offers up a bullish item on

Snap-On

(SNA) - Get Report

, whose stock some investors say is on the mend.

Also,

Cornerstone Internet Solutions

(CNRS)

gets positive mention in the column. The column, citing one unidentified big shareholder in Cornerstone, reports that two things will help juice up the company's stock: Cornerstone will soon have a national rollout of its FOODgalaxy.com service, and the company's forming a strategic tie-up with a giant financial-services company to provide credit facilities to subscribers of FOODgalaxy.com. The column says FOODgalaxy.com allows restaurants and other food-service establishments to post lists online of their supply requirements.