TheStreet.com's MIDDAY UPDATE
March 15, 2000
Market Data as of 3/15/00, 1:24 PM ET:
o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 10,018.17 up 206.93, 2.11%
o Nasdaq Composite Index: 4,635.47 down 71.16, -1.51%
o S&P 500: 1,382.97 up 23.82, 1.75%
o TSC Internet: 1,216.05 down 57.38, -4.51%
o Russell 2000: 559.90 down 13.09, -2.28%
o 30-Year Treasury: 102 13/32 up 8/32, yield 6.068%
In Today's Bulletin:
o Midday Musings: Lurching Rotation Sends Dow Zooming While Nasdaq Tumbles
o Herb on TheStreet: Hunting for Safe Stocks (If There Is Such a Thing)
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Also on TheStreet.com:
Wrong! Dispatches from the Front: Buying Into the Pain
The NDX just took a dive and the trader is committing his money. Here's why.
Semiconductors: Between an X-Box and a Hard Place: Nvidia's Stock Slips 24% After Big Run
The chipmaker for Microsoft's planned X-Box game console is finding a road paved with ifs.
Internet: As Options Spread, So Too Do Suits From Workers Fired Before They Vest
Case law in the area isn't set, and legal experts expect a flood of new disputes.
SuperModels: A Well-Bred Genetics Play With Maximum Potential
Alejandro Zaffaroni, the entrepreneur behind a bunch of biotechs, may have saved his best for last.
Midday Musings: Lurching Rotation Sends Dow Zooming While Nasdaq Tumbles
3/15/00 1:21 PM ETThe "duck and cover" mentality that gripped the market was beginning to subside somewhat as stocks attempted to repair some of
yesterday's damage. But the harried
Nasdaq Composite Index
remained huddled under its desk with hands on head, suffering deep losses again.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was showing conviction, lately up 181, or 1.8%, to 9992, after spending a good deal of the morning swinging indecisively. The blue-chip measure's rise stemmed from strength in
, up 5.2%, and
Johnson & Johnson
, lifting 5.5%.
Meanwhile the Nasdaq Comp was down 102, or 2.2%, to 4604. In the early going, the tech-infused Comp looked like it was going to fight the selling power that pummeled it yesterday. It gained more than 50 points before investors decided to turn up the downside pressure.
Yesterday's 200.61-point drop in the Nasdaq marked the second-worst point drop in the tech-laden index, second only to the damage
Jan. 4, when the Comp shed 229.46 points. The back-to-back selloffs yesterday and
Monday knocked the Nasdaq down 6.8%, and if it closed around its current level, it would be off 9.4% -- close to Wall Street's traditional 10% correction benchmark.
"People are catching their breath. Money is going into selective situation stocks across the board," said David Baker, head of program trading at
. He characterized the market as "extremely choppy, with good volume but low liquidity."
Internet stocks were taking it on the chin, with
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index down a massive 68, or 5.3%, to 1205. It has traded as low as 1188.61.
was falling 4%, following reports that it was holding talks with
, down 5.6%. Chip stocks were also hurting, with the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
"There are excesses within the stock market,
although some of that was worked off yesterday," said Marshall Acuff, portfolio strategist at
Salomon Smith Barney
. There is room for further excess to be taken out of the market, he said.
Leading the downside in tech stocks was
, an e-commerce software concern, which darkened 43 15/16, or 17.7%, to 205 after it said it is buying privately held
for a little more than $3 billion in stock.
The biotech sector was showing signs of life after yesterday's pummeling, with the
American Stock Exchange Biotechnology Index
gaining 2.1% on the heels of yesterday's 13.2% slide. The
Nasdaq Biotechnology Index
was also feeling a little healthier today, rising 3.1%. The biotechs that were beaten the worst were enjoying the relief.
was up 9.8%, thanks in part to an upgrade to strong buy from buy at
Credit Suisse First Boston
, which thought yesterday's selling was overdone. The firm set a target price of 105 on Amgen.
Protein Design Labs
was down 3.7%, its earlier rise no consolation to those who felt the pain of its 24% drop yesterday.
was also lower, off 14 1/2, or 2.5%, to 558 1/2, while the broader
was solidly in the green, up 18, or 1.4%, to 1378.
Cyclicals, including paper stocks, transports and financials, were all putting in a solid showing today with the
Dow Jones Transportation Average
up 3.8%, the
Philadephia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index
up 4.5%, and the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index
The scattered action and volatility is sure to continue as attention turns to the readings of inflation reports set for release Thursday (the
Producer Price Index
) and Friday (the
Consumer Price Index
). Deutsche's Baker also points out an options and futures expiration coming up Friday, which may cause people "to take a step back because of potential volatility."
Investors also have a
Federal Open Market Committee
meeting and all-but-certain 25-basis point rate hike to look forward to next week. "So long as the
is turning the screw, there is not likely to be to be a sustained advance," said Acuff.
The 10-year Treasury was up 7/32 to 101 23/32, its yield at 6.26%, while the 30-year Treasury was up 16/32 to 102 21/32, its yield at 6.06%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's
Breadth was positive on the Big Board but negative on the Nasdaq, on fairly heavy volume.
New York Stock Exchange:
1,548 advancers, 1,307 decliners, 705 million shares. 14 new 52-week highs, 109 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market:
1,295 advancers, 2,782 decliners, 1.2 billion shares. 37 new highs, 131 new lows.
For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Movers, published separately.
Herb on TheStreet: Hunting for Safe Stocks (If There Is Such a Thing)
3/15/00 6:30 AM ET
Fox News Channel
show last weekend
asked me if there was any safe place to put your money and I blurted something like, "Have I got a money-market fund for you." (Like you would expect me to say anything else?!)
But some stocks really
safer than others. And in the midst of this whole value vs. growth debate, people forget that a certain group of value stocks have done exceptionally well -- especially stocks that I put in the category of backdoor investments. (Backdoor because they trade at big discounts to their net asset values, including stakes in other highflying stocks.)
Just go back and look at those mentioned
here three months ago by money manager John Woodberry of
Minute Man Capital
in New York.
have all jumped more than 50%.
Wooed by a record like that, readers now want to know what Woodberry, who also
alerted this column to
, is fond of
Interestingly (and ironically, at a time when it appears investing is more like gambling), one of his current faves is
, which is in the process of buying
for $4.4 billion in cash.
The "cash" part of the story is an important one to Woodberry because, he says, MGM's controlling shareholder, Kirk Kerkorian, "is a guy who only uses his own pocketbook when there's a big opportunity." The other times when his cash purchases were "buy" signals, Woodberry says, were a few years ago when he bought back
stock and, earlier, when he bought into
. "Every time he has used his checkbook, if you followed him, you have made money," Woodberry says, "and this is one of the few times
in recent years that I have seen somebody pay cash for a company."
What's more, the gaming industry, as a whole, is in the doldrums and, when the Mirage purchase is complete, MGM will control high-end (and profitable) gaming properties that are adjacent to one another.
There's plenty of speculation that MGM will sell off several of its hotel properties after the deal is complete, and perhaps use the cash to buy something else -- possibly the
in Atlantic City. But one good source (that's about as far as I'll go) says it's not clear that MGM will sell much of anything among its hotels.
Also, I hear that MGM could hold a conference call with analysts as soon as next week to discuss, among other things, the timing of the deal's closing (it'll be sooner than the year-end date many observers currently think) and about deal-related synergies and cost savings that are more than even MGM had expected. MGM officials couldn't be reached.
Meanwhile, back to safe stocks: Another Woodberry fave is
, the cruise-line company. "It has software-like operating margins," Woodberry marvels. "You show me a business that makes 30% before tax -- that's an incredible business. Even if their current estimates
$1.90 per share are wrong, even if oil prices rise and bookings are down, you probably have only 10 cents to 20 cents of earnings-per-share risk. And then you're buying something at 14-times earnings rather than 12-times right now."
Fund manager Julian Robertson is believed to have been a big seller of Carnival recently for reasons more related to his own fund than to the stock. His sales have caused the stock to fall by almost half. But with such fat margins and virtually no debt, Woodberry would rather sail with Carnival than fly with high-tech.
About this column:
The typical reaction to
yesterday's item on
Lernout & Hauspie
-- one of a continuing series -- was like the following email, which said:
It is important for a money manager not to fight the tape. When does a reporter admit he may not be right, but wrong??? The only way you will ever know is "if" Lernout heads south. However, if your readers followed your pontifications ... need I say more regarding the price movement from 11/1/99 - 3/14/00. P.S.: I'm not even an owner, just tired of "holier than thou" reporters.
To which I respond: A stock's price does not make a story correct. Short-sellers have clearly been wrong on Lernout the stock, but they still believe they'll be proved right on Lernout the story. Maybe you've noticed: I don't recommend you buy, sell or short stocks. I just report the market's oddities. Yesterday's column pointed out how Lernout referred to its most recent press release as a "momentum announcement." In other words, its press releases are designed to keep the momentum of interest in its company, and its stock, on a roll. To me, that's newsworthy -- and I'm in the news biz.
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.
Copyright 2000, TheStreet.com