TheStreet.com's MIDDAY UPDATE
June 08, 1999
Log on and see why National Discount Brokers was awarded the top rating in both Barron's and Money Magazine's online broker surveys:
Market Data as of 6/8/99, 1:06 PM ET:
o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 10,817.88 down 91.50, -0.84%
o Nasdaq Composite Index: 2,518.07 down 6.14, -0.24%
o S&P 500: 1,326.97 down 7.55, -0.57%
o TSC Internet: 585.81 down 0.06, -0.01%
o Russell 2000: 446.70 up 0.05, 0.01%
o 30-Year Treasury: 90 06/32 up 5/32, yield 5.956%
In Today's Bulletin:
o Midday Musings: Market Wears Cement Shoes Amid Continuing Volume Strike
o Herb on TheStreet: Is Barclays About to Turn the Fund World Upside Down?
Also on TheStreet.com:
Wrong! Dispatches from the Front: Renting Stocks
Cramer has little conviction on any of his positions at this point. That's why he's a renter, not an owner.
Retail: Searching for Growth in the Kmart Karma
Some observers aren't persuaded this turnaround story has turned the corner.
Biotech/Pharmaceuticals: Feeling Fritzky, Immunex CEO Transforms Boutique Into Biotech Biggie
How the company's CEO helped a biotech boutique become a household name.
Bob Gabele: More Insider Moves at Electro Scientific, Hibernia and Compaq
While they're selling at Electro Scientific, insiders are picking up shares at both Hibernia and Compaq.
Dear Dagen: Dear Dagen: Can I Move Money Out of My 403(b) Plan?
There's no simple answer. It all depends on the plan and the paperwork.
Midday Musings: Market Wears Cement Shoes Amid Continuing Volume Strike
Indeed, there's not a lot of huge news today. Yes, volume is light. Sure, everyone's waiting for upcoming economic data and the
Federal Open Market Committee
meeting later this month. Expect those phrases to reappear over the next few days, probably at least until Friday.
But unlike the next few days, today is different. Today is special. Today is the trading debut of
(KOOP:Nasdaq). (There's got to be a few traders on desks today shouting out "Kooooooop, Koooooooop," harking back to the sounds they used to hear at
Milwaukee County Stadium
). The "koop" refers, of course, to former U.S. Surgeon General
C. Everett Koop
, who co-founded the online health-care concern.
Anyway, drkoop.com was soaring in its first day of trading (see Midday Movers). It was also most active on the
Nasdaq Stock Market
, with 16.3 million shares changing hands so far.
Meanwhile, stocks were taking a breather after rallying handsomely Friday and yesterday.
"It's really slow," said Scott Curtis, senior equity trader at
Brown Brothers Harriman
, adding that the "summer doldrums have started already."
Curtis said people are just marking time ahead of upcoming inflation data and waiting for the FOMC's meeting later this month. The FOMC is slated to meet June 29 and 30.
Indeed, the market's in a holding pattern as bond and stock market participants look ahead to upcoming economic data: On Friday,
Producer Price Index
will be released, while on June 16, the
Consumer Price Index
is set for release.
Leading major averages on the downside was the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
, which was off 100, or 0.9%, to 10,809. Among the Dow's main drags were
Procter & Gamble
Nasdaq Composite Index
was down 8 to 2516. In tech, analysts' actions were helping push movement in the sector.
PC makers were being pressured after
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
trimmed earnings estimates for later this year on
In the enterprise sector, DLJ trimmed estimates on
Conversely, semiconductor equipment stocks gained, albeit well off their session highs.
Warburg Dillon Read
initiated coverage of several of the sector's issues, which in turn helped boost the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
, which was up 1%. Warburg initiated coverage of
, all with buy ratings. Applied Materials and Novellus are index components.
Among tech sector gauges, the
Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35
was down 1.2%, while the
was down 0.8%.
was off 7, or 0.6%, to 1327. The
was flat at 447.
Internet stocks were mixed after sprinting higher over the last two sessions.
On the upside in the Net sector was
, up 17.6% and leading the
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index on news that
is in talks to buy the rest of the portal company, possibly in exchange for an Internet tracking stock Disney would create. Disney currently has a 43% stake in Infoseek. Disney was down 3.2%.
Dow Jones Transportation Average
was under pressure again today, down 1.1%, as decaying airline stocks again undercut the average.
, which issued a profit warning, were three of the biggest drags on the average.
Dick Stein, chief technical analyst at
Noble Financial Group
, cited a subsiding of fear over interest rates as the catalyst for the market's surge Friday and yesterday, in light of May's measly 11,000 nonfarm payroll growth, a sign the economy is starting to cool off.
As for the
, Stein said he doesn't see it making a move at the end of June.
Overall, "I remain basically bullish," he said.
Treasuries were firm. The 30-year bond lately was up 6/32 to 90 6/32, yielding 5.96%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early
New York Stock Exchange
, decliners were leading advancers 1,555 to 1,238 on a pale 379 million shares. On the Nasdaq, losers were beating winners 1,884 to 1,664 on 493 million shares.
On the NYSE, 60 issues had set new 52-week highs while 28 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 77 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 25.
On the Big Board, Compaq was most active, with 12.6 million shares changing hands. It was down 1 to 22 7/8.
Meanwhile, among other indices, the
Dow Jones Utility Average
was down 0.3%. The
American Stock Exchange Composite Index
was down 0.3%.
Tuesday's Midday Movers
was flying 7 7/16, or 17.6%, to 49 3/4 after
last night said it's in talks to buy the rest of the company, possibly in exchange for an Internet tracking stock. Disney, which has a 43% stake in Infoseek, was losing 1 to 29 7/8.
In other news:
American Mobile Satellite
was up 4 3/16, or 25.4%, to 20 11/16 after signing an agreement with privately held
to buy the remaining 78% it doesn't own in
for about $144 million.
Bank of New York
was up 2 3/4, or 7.9%, to 37 7/16 after agreeing to sell its
commerce-finance unit to the
financing arm of
for $1.8 billion in cash. GM was off 1 to 68 1/8.
drkoop.com, an online health-care company named after C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general, was rocketing up 5 15/16, or 66%, to 14 5/8 after its 9.38 million-share IPO was priced at $9 a share.
served as the company's lead underwriter. Competitor
Superior Consultant Holdings
was off 1 1/16 to 35 1/8.
Elsewhere in new issues,
(BWEB:Nasdaq) was soaring 7 15/16, or 66.2%, to 19 15/16 after
priced its 5.5 million-share IPO top-range at $12 a share. The Israeli company makes Internet software.
was up 1 11/32, or 33.6%, to 5 3/8 after announcing a set of technology and licensing agreements with Microsoft, including a total investment by Mister Softee of $125 million.
WellPoint Health Networks
was up 5, or 6%, to 88 7/16 on last night's news it will replace
in the S&P 500 after today's close. Yesterday, Harnischfeger filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Separately, WellPoint filed with regulators to resell 9 million shares.
Elsewhere among changes to
Standard & Poor's
was up 1 11/16 to 38 3/8 on word it will replace
S&P SmallCap 600
after Friday's close. Resound is being acquired by
was up 1 5/8 to 36 1/8 on word it will replace
S&P MidCap 400
June 14. Nine West is being acquired by
was down 5 31/32, or 45.5%, to 7 1/4 after warning second-quarter earnings will fall significantly below the four-analyst forecast for earnings of 15 cents a share. Along with disappointing sales trends, the company blamed the warning on a switch to a new consumer credit provider, which has resulted in a reduction in credit approvals. (Last month,
wrote about Select's shenanigans with mattress studies.)
was down 1 3/8, or 9.6%, to 13 after last night saying it sees second-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share due to a continuation of problems identified in the first quarter. The five-analyst outlook called for earnings of 14 cents vs. the year-ago 17 cents. The problems include the transition to a new enterprise resource planning system at its
subsidiary, right-sizing activities (yes, the company actually said "right-sizing activities," with what we presume is a straight face) at the
division, and new product introduction issues at the
German Honsberg Lamb
Following Friday's warning from UAL's United Airlines, US Airways said its second-quarter earnings will come in around $1.80 to $1.85 a share. The 11-analyst estimate called for $2.15 a share. The airline cited softer than expected May traffic and higher than expected costs. US Airways was down 2 1/4 to 49 5/16; UAL was down 2 9/16 to 63 13/16.
Herb on TheStreet: Is Barclays About to Turn the Fund World Upside Down?
Barclays Global Investors
is best known as the largest institutional investment manager. That may be about to change. The company has quietly applied with the
to start trading open-end "managed" index funds on the
American Stock Exchange
If approved, they wouldn't be the first funds to trade on an exchange; that honor goes to closed-end funds, which unlike open-end funds issue a limited number of shares. But they would be the first so-called exchange-traded open-end funds. Their introduction could be the first step to the public's trading of all types of mutual funds, which could be a boon to the Amex.
Far-fetched? Perhaps, but a key component of the Barclays plan is that funds would be priced continuously throughout the trading day, just like any other stock, instead of just once a day at the market's close.
What's more, "many of the criticisms of mutual funds, such as high fees and taxes, would be eliminated," says financial adviser Robert Levitt of
in Boca Raton, Fla. The high fees would be substituted with a commission to a broker for handling the trade, rather than the fund manager in the form of a management charge. (There would still be a management fee, but it would be paltry compared with fees charged by typical mutual funds.)
Then there's the tax issue: By purchasing a fund that trades as a stock, rather than a fund, investors would no longer be directly responsible for capital gains incurred by the fund for trades by the manager. "The two things that control taxes
in open-end funds are the portfolio manager and other investors through the cash they put in and out" of individual stocks and the funds themselves, Levitt says.
Don't closed-end funds already offer that tax bonus? Sure, but because they issue only a limited number of shares, the shares often trade at big discounts or premiums to the value of the portfolio, or the net asset value. Barclays contends that those premiums and discounts can generally be eliminated by an unlimited supply of shares. In fact, in its application, Barclays makes a point of saying that its funds would create "efficiencies in pricing ... and minimize the
underwriting costs that are sometimes encountered" with closed-end funds.
How exactly Barclays is going to have an unlimited supply of shares that trade is unclear. Details are sketchy; the prospectus has not yet been issued and officials were unavailable for comment.
If some of this sounds familiar, though, it should, because Barclays' proposed funds are similar in concept to the
Standard & Poor's
depositary receipts, or SPDRs, and other products that already trade on the Amex. One difference is that SPDRs are unit trusts that trade a fixed portfolio, and they mirror a small number of indices. Barclays, however, has filed to trade, at the start, as many as 45 indices created by Standard & Poor's,
. (Some aren't even in existence yet.)
Perhaps the biggest difference is that unlike SPDRs or even index funds, Barclays wants to add a level of active management to its funds by lending shares to short-sellers, and investing in derivatives, options and futures, tactics that it says "are desirable and in the interest of investors."
All of this sounds great to Levitt, who has been looking for ways to invest in sectors without taking the tax hit of an index or having to rely on the skills (or lack, thereof) of a sector fund manager. "If I could buy the same product like a mutual fund on an exchange and I could buy it cheaper with better tax efficiency, it would be tempting," he says.
If other advisers agree with Levitt, that could pose a challenge to the likes of index fund giant
, whose funds have low fees but are subjected to the same tax risks as other funds (though those taxes are often lower than taxes on some actively managed funds). Vanguard officials declined comment, but Levitt predicts, "This will be Goliath versus Goliath."
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.
Copyright 1999, TheStreet.com