TheStreet.com's MIDDAY UPDATE
August 26, 1999
Hollywood is changing - Let's talk about it! DIGITAL COAST '99, 9/8-9, LA. Speakers Include: Leonard Nimoy, Mark Cuban of Broadcast.com, Kevin Foxe - The Blair Witch Project, Rob Fried Producer Godzilla, Dave Bohnett, Geocities.com
Market Data as of 8/26/99, 1:16 PM ET:
o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 11,270.00 down 56.04, -0.49%
o Nasdaq Composite Index: 2,807.20 up 1.60, 0.06%
o S&P 500: 1,372.14 down 9.65, -0.70%
o TSC Internet: 598.14 up 7.00, 1.18%
o Russell 2000: 437.82 down 0.04, -0.01%
o 30-Year Treasury: 10 308/32 down 17/32, yield 5.888%
In Today's Bulletin:
o Midday Musings: Cloudy Market Conditions Prevail on Soggy Wall Street
o Herb on TheStreet: Anybody Taking a Look at the Fundamentals of Net2Phone and IDT?
"TheStreet.com" on the Fox News Channel
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And TSC's own "Chartman," Gary B. Smith, tells us what makes a chart say"buy" and what makes it say "sell."
The show airs Saturday at 10 a.m. ET and again on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Formore info and how to find Fox News in your area, please see our TSC on Foxpage, at www.thestreet.com/tv.
Also on TheStreet.com:
Wrong! Dispatches from the Front: Trimming Time
Cramer says he's unloading some overextended positions.
James K. Galbraith: The Fed's Fighting the Wrong Battle
Raising rates is the wrong weapon to use against asset inflation. It's time Greenspan trotted out Reg T.
Market Features: Inflated by Y2K Fears, Bond Spreads Float Without a Pin in Clear Sight
Most believe the gap between Treasury yields and high-grade bond yields will narrow significantly, but no one can agree on when.
Tech Savvy: As Always, Cisco's Making All the Right Moves
Yes, the price tag on the Cerent deal is steep -- just as the returns promise to be.
Mutual Funds: Moving Past the Paperwork, Invesco Gets Ready for Fund Sales on the Net
The paperless transaction, common elsewhere on the Web, is new to the mutual fund industry.
Midday Musings: Cloudy Market Conditions Prevail on Soggy Wall Street
8/26/99 1:18 PM ET
Thursday so far has seemed more like a lazy summer Friday on Wall Street. In fact, the most talked-about news was the treacherous downpour that hampered many New Yorkers' morning commute. Fortunately, after the market movers and makers dried off, they didn't have another storm to bear. Just another drizzler of a session.
After reflecting briefly on today's weather, Richard Yamarone, senior economist at
, said he sees additional signs of labor market tightness, citing today's release of initial jobless claims at 283,000 for the week ended Saturday, down from a revised 288,000 in the previous week. "Manufacturing has stepped up its pace with the release of August's
survey, up 56.7 from 50.8," he said. "We don't believe this is indicative of a major resurgence in manufacturing, but more realistically a temporary attempt to add inventory in anticipation of heightened Y2K demand."
At the midday, tickers seemed to be going from green to red, as investors sold off some of yesterday's gains. Peter Cardillo, chief strategist at
, said he sees some profit-taking after yesterday's surge. Cardillo also noted a possible turnaround in investors' strategy now that the word is out on interest rates, saying investors "will begin to focus on individual companies, rather than the market itself."
The oil sector appeared to be leaking after yesterday's sharp decline in oil and gasoline futures prices, with
slip-sliding down 2 1/8 to 93, while
stumbled 1 9/16 to 63.
This morning, retailers were sporting the red "for sale" tag, trading down after
analyst Dan Barry initiated a conservative investment opinion on a slew of stores.
Barnes & Noble
were all being bagged.
New York Stock Exchange
was proving that it was more than just talk, soaring 6 15/16 to 104 15/16 after announcing a possible joint venture with
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 53 to 11,273. The small-cap
was unchanged at 438, while the
was off 9 to 1373. The tech-laden
Nasdaq Composite Index
was up 4 to 2810, while
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was up 7 to 598.
On the Big Board, decliners were beating advancers 1,642 to 1,134 on 424 million shares, while on the
Nasdaq Stock Market
laggards were beating leaders 1,831 to 1,702 on 665 million shares. New 52-week lows were leading new highs 35 to 26 on the NYSE, but on the Nasdaq, new highs were beating new lows 98 to 38.
The benchmark 30-year Treasury was down 18/32 to 103 8/32, its yield at 5.89%.
Thursday's Midday Watchlist
Earnings estimates from First Call; new highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified. Earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.
Get out of the Kid's way. Exemplifying upside momentum,
1 (that's an additional $3.2 billion in market cap, remember) to 69 5/8 after saying it spent a whopping $7.4 billion in stock for two privately held fiber-optic networking companies.
About $6.9 billion of Cisco stock will go to Petaluma, Calif.-based
, with the other $501 million earmarked for
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
Shares of copper miners
were on the upswing after they said yesterday that they would begin merger negotiations if once-spurned suitor
upped its all-stock offer for both companies to $3.3 billion from $2.5 billion. Cyprus and Asarco had initially turned down proposals from Phelps, saying they'd pursue their own merger. Cyprus was lately up 11/16 to 17 7/8, while Asarco had risen 1 3/8, or 6.4%, to 22 13/16. Phelps Dodge was off 5/16 to 57 5/16.
were sinking 2 13/16 to 157 11/16 after the company said it bought
Yellow Book USA
for $665 million as part of an effort to build its online directory service. BT said it plans to integrate the company with its own yellow pages business.
longs are sitting pretty today after
Procter & Gamble
set plans to buy the maker of household drinking water systems for $35.25 a share in cash. Recovery was halted in early trading, but investors quickly bid it up toward the acquisition price when it opened. Recovery was lately up 17 5/8, or a handsome 103%, to 34 3/4. Procter & Gamble was down 2 1/8 to 100 1/2.
was off 2, or 8.8%, to 20 7/8 after it said it was in ongoing talks for potential corporate transactions that could be "material" if completed.
Vodafone AirTouch was up 7 3/16, or 3.6%, to 205 3/16 after
of London reported that the company was in talks with Bell Atlantic to create a joint venture in the U.S. The newspaper wrote that analysts believe the deal could involve a merger of AirTouch's West Coast operations and Bell Atlantic's mobile phone unit, which covers the East Coast. The combined businesses could be worth more than $100 billion, according to the paper. Bell Atlantic lately was up7/8 to 64 3/4.
Offerings and stock actions
was lighting it up in its first day of trading, lately up 5 11/16, or 81.3%, to 12 11/16 after being priced at $7 a share by lead underwriter
was up 15/16 to 42 7/16 after Merrill Lynch raised it to near-term accumulate from near-term neutral and to long-term buy from long-term accumulate.
was down 3/8 to 44 5/8 despite the fact that
Banc of America Securities
raised it to buy from market performer. The brokerage also upped its rating on oil drilling service firm
to strong buy from market performer. Weatherford was lately up 1/8 to 33.
was up 1 1/2 to 70 15/16 after Merrill raised it to near-term buy from near-term accumulate and upped its earnings estimate for the August 2000 fiscal year to $2.22 a share from $1.90.
American Home Products
was off 1 to 46 13/16 after it agreed to settle lawsuits with more than 36,000 women over the Norplant contraceptive device. The company didn't disclose the size of the settlements.
was sinking 2 7/16, or 3.8%, to 62 5/16 one day after "Operation Ramp Rats," in which 58 employees of its
subsidiary were arrested on charges of smuggling drugs and weapons through Miami airport's baggage system.
It's not clear what's driving the selloff in engineering and services construction firm
. The company has claimed it has no idea. But there it goes anyway, lately down 5 3/4, or 13.2%, to 37 15/16. Dycom had traded as low as 33 earlier in the session.
A Heard on the Street column in today's
Wall Street Journal
questioning the high P/E ratios inspired by the Pokemon craze is taking its toll on several companies today:
Grand Toys International
, off 4 5/8, or 20.2%, to 18 7/16;
, down 3 9/16, or 25.9%, to 10 1/4;
4 Kids Entertainment
, off 3 7/8, or 6%, to 60 7/8; and
, down 1/4, or 7.3%, to 10 1/16. The TaskMaster, a.k.a.
, wrote about
Pokemon (whatever the heck that is) last night.
were seeing the ugly side of Net volatility today; Homestore.com was lately down 4 11/16, or 9.3%, to 45 9/16, while Phone.com was off 7 1/16, or 5.4%, to 124 3/16.
Herb on TheStreet: Anybody Taking a Look at the Fundamentals of Net2Phone and IDT?
8/26/99 6:30 AM ET
Pumpers and dumpers are having a field day, no doubt, with the stocks of
. Like the old days of the Internet, at the expense, no doubt, of the little guy who will almost certainly get walloped. Anything, and I mean
that goes up that quickly -- on a relatively small float -- almost always falls just as quickly, if not faster, after this kind of buying frenzy. Yesterday the stock zoomed 32% to 70 1/8, giving it a market value of more than $3 billion.
This will surely go down as yet another case of investors not fully understanding what they're buying. The evidence is clear by the recent action in Net2Phone. As I pointed out
yesterday in a midday "Herb on TheStreet Extra," anybody who really likes Net2Phone would be better off owning IDT, because of its 57% stake in Net2Phone and its steep discount to Net2Phone.
That, of course, prompted some readers to wonder whether I was "eating crow" or "throwing in the towel" on past items here that were
critical of IDT.
You kidding? The Net2Phone spinoff itself is just the latest questionable transaction involving IDT. Among the biggest winners in the deal are IDT insiders. According to Net2Phone's prospectus, Net2Phone has agreed to pay IDT $6 million for a 20-year right to use part of a new high-capacity network still under construction. (An example of why this is good for IDT.) What's more, as the company says in its prospectus, they have lots of competition for their services and products, including some from large, well-known, deep-pocketed companies. And if prices of long-distance service continue to fall, Net2Phone warns that it may lose its competitive pricing advantage for long-distance calls. Already some Internet telephone companies are undercutting Net2Phone in the U.S.
, for example, charges 3.9 cents per minute vs. 4.9 cents for Net2Phone on domestic calls except for Alaska and Hawaii.
Then there's the quality issue: As I noted yesterday, the quality of the actual phone calls over the Internet, from a PC, is nothing to write (or call) home about. Calls made several times to me from a friend over the course of the past month using Net2Phone's Internet telephone service were unintelligible. Admittedly, mine is a small sampling. And then there is reader
. He uses the service frequently for overseas calls, and writes: "The main problem I've found is not the voice quality but a delay between the time one person says something and the other person hears it. This varies from a couple of seconds to about a half a minute. That is where the real annoyance comes in."
Finally, in its prospectus, Net2Phone, which had sales of $22 million for the nine months ending April 30, and no profits, warns that
U S West
have asked the
to institute federal access charges for Internet phone calls. The company says many of its competitors are lobbying for the change. If that happens, Net2Phone warns that its business could be "materially" affected. Boilerplate, sure, but some analysts believe this is a
Joe Kernen yesterday told his viewers that on Tuesday officials from IDT called him, pointing out that they believed their stock deserved to be substantially higher with Net2Phone on such a tear. (Assuming someone from IDT really made the call: They had to say
because Net2Phone's investors certainly don't have a clue.)
Blown to Smith-ereens
Gary B. Smith
Yesterday's "technical" take on several of this column's recent hits was, as usual, masterful. Hope to see more of his touch on my column, though we all know that regardless of what the charts may show, in the end, the fundamentals win out.
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
email@example.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.
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