Skip to main content

midday11-03-99's MIDDAY UPDATE

November 3, 1999

Market Data as of 11/3/99, 1:20 PM ET:

o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 10,600.19 up 18.35, 0.17%

o Nasdaq Composite Index: 3,029.32 up 47.69, 1.60%

o S&P 500: 1,354.41 up 6.67, 0.49%

o TSC Internet: 767.26 up 14.49, 1.92%

o Russell 2000: 435.98 up 3.59, 0.83%

o 30-Year Treasury: 100 02/32 up 11/32, yield 6.113%

In Today's Bulletin:

o Midday Musings: Nasdaq Keeps Steaming Toward Close Above 3000
o Herb on TheStreet: Why P.T. Barnum Would Love CellNet Investors Community

You know's the place for great market commentary, but did you know it's also the place for intelligent investing discussion?

Whether it's Cramer's commentary or breaking news, each day we'll be bringing the conversation straight to you.

Check out these hot message boards in the Community section:

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Also on

Smarter Money: *New* Smarter Money: Cramer on Personal Finance

In the first installment of a new column, the hedge fund manager takes a look at his Fidelity funds.

Biotech/Pharmaceuticals: Recent Minor Setbacks Obscure Pharmacia's Upside

The company doesn't need its drugs to be hugely successful to turn the company around.

Tech Savvy: Webvan's Hoping to Deliver Its IPO This Week

Seymour's still sold on the Net grocer's concept and thinks investors are as well. Also, the Qwest-U S West union, and the AT&T follies continue in Portland. Have your say on our message boards.

Dear Dagen: Dear Dagen: How Do I Check the Stability of My Broker?

In general, online brokers are no more risky than traditional ones. A bigger factor may be the ability to execute a timely trade at a crucial moment.

Midday Musings: Nasdaq Keeps Steaming Toward Close Above 3000


Eileen Kinsella

Staff Reporter

11/3/99 1:27 PM ET

Technology stocks fueled the market's upside this morning, making the

Nasdaq Composite Index

look like the big index that could. The tech-infused average broke through the key 3000 level for the second consecutive day, and by midday was still floating happily above it, up 47, or 1.6%, to 3029.

The Internet Sector

index was jumping as well, up 13, or 1.8%, to 766.

A number of positive earnings announcements and joint ventures were powering the move higher. Leading the pack on the Nasdaq market was

Commerce One


, sprinting 19.1%, after last night announcing an e-commerce venture with

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report



(QCOM) - Get Qualcomm Inc Report

showed some muscle, lately up 9% after

last night reporting better than expected earnings.

Meanwhile, in another room, pharmaceutical stocks were popping on news of a $65 billion

merger between

American Home Products





. The

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

was rising 3%.

Broader indices, though also heading higher, were not smiling quite as much. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up just 18 to 10,600, retreating from its intraday high of 10,649.74 behind declines in

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report


Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. Report


American Express

(AXP) - Get American Express Company Report

. The broader

S&P 500

was up 7 to 1354. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 4 to 436.

Though happy about the general tone of the market today, some traders and strategists tempered their enthusiasm with caution about the weeks ahead, noting upcoming economic reports and the next


meeting on Nov. 16.

"The Nasdaq is of course setting new highs, but it's not going to go a heck a lot of higher," said Jim Volk, co-director of institutional trading at

D.A. Davidson

in Portland, Ore. If inflation signals and interest rates don't cooperate, "you could get some dislocation in this market," warned Volk, who sees the Dow and S&P as being locked in a trading range right now.

Volk called this morning's activity a "technical reaction to the fact that the bond market did not act poorly," after a Treasury announcement detailing next week's issue of new 5- and 10-year notes. Indeed, the bond market actually took the news quite well, with the benchmark 30-year Treasury lately up 10/32 to 100 2/32, its yield easing to 6.12%.

"The market has pretty well discounted the 25-basis-point rate hike" at the upcoming Fed meeting, said Volk. Stocks got their act together after what he characterized as a "kind of sloppy market" yesterday, referring to the Nasdaq's flip-flop around 3000.

Michael Clark, managing director and head of equity trading at

Credit Suisse First Boston

, echoed the feeling. "A decent bounce is warranted. We came out of October OK and the tax-selling season is over," he said. "The broad market was badly beaten up and breadth is much better now." Still, he said he doesn't expect the market to go running off into the next performance stage, at least until the new year rolls around.

"We've got a heavy calendar to eat through in November, it's going to be stagnant until early December," Clark said. Though he said he is not really worried about Y2K, he feels there will be a lot more leadership and ideas in terms of stock picking as 1999 winds down.

Breadth was moderately positive this afternoon, with

New York Stock Exchange

advancers edging out decliners 1,464 to 1,416 on 557 million shares. Leaders were beating laggards 2,124 to 1,564 on 823 million shares on the

Nasdaq Stock Market

. New lows were topping new highs 65 to 49 on the Big Board, while new highs were leading new lows 183 to 62 on the Nasdaq.

Wednesday's Midday Watchlist

By Tara Murphy
Staff Reporter

American Home Products and Warner-Lambert are negotiating a $65 billion merger that would join two of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, the companies confirmed. AHP Chairman John Stanford would likely be tapped as chairman of the merged company, while Warner-Lambert Chairman Lodewijk J.R. de Vink would probably become CEO, the newspaper said. Shares of AHP were jumping 4 1/4, or 8.4%, to 54 5/8, while Warner-Lambert was leaping 3 13/16 to 82.

joint newsroom reported on the merger in a

story this morning.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures


(AA) - Get Alcoa Corporation Report

was slipping 7/16 to 60 1/8 after it announced its plans to buy


interest in

Aluminum of Korea


America Online




(BBI) - Get Brickell Biotech, Inc. Report

set a multiyear pact whereby Blockbuster will become the premier home video provider on AOL's Entertainment Channel, while AOL will be heavily promoted through Blockbuster. As part of the pact, AOL will make a $30 million equity investment in

. Shares of Blockbuster were hopping 1 5/16, or 10.5%, to 13 13/16, while America Online was bouncing 4 5/8 to 137 3/4.

American Greetings

(AM) - Get Antero Midstream Corp. Report

is acquiring

Gibson Greetings


for $10.25 a share in cash, or $162.3 million. American Greetings said the takeover is expected to be additive to earnings in the upcoming fiscal year. American Greetings was climbing 3/4 to 25 13/16, while Gibson Greetings was popping 3, or 66%, to 9.

General Electric's

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report


has offered about $700 million for

Chronicle Publishing's

San Francisco


television station, the


reported, citing people familiar with the bid. General Electric shares were jumping 2 9/16 to 131 9/16.

Gilat Satellite


was mounting 3 5/8, or 6.5%, to 58 7/8 after it said it is not in negotiations to be bought by


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

. Shares of Microsoft were climbing 7/16 to 92.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews


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


Axa Financial


was unchanged at 33 15/16 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 12-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 31 cents.

Kenneth Cole


was bouncing 2 5/8, or 6.5%, to 43 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 57 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst estimate of 53 cents and up from the year-ago 42 cents.

Cyprus Amax


was sliding 1/8 to 19 7/16 after reported a third-quarter loss of 17 cents a share, wider than the six-analyst estimate of a 16-cent loss but narrower than the year-ago 38-cent loss.


(HRC) - Get Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. Report

was stumbling 3/16 to 6 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, in line with the nine-analyst estimate but down from the year-ago 28 cents.



was climbing 13/16 to 24 5/16 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 57 cents a share, missing the 11-analyst estimate by a penny and down from the year-ago 74 cents.

Intimate Brands


fell 1 5/16 to 37 13/16 after it said October same-store sales rose 10%.

Qualcomm was soaring 20 7/16, or 9%, to 245 5/16 after it posted fourth-quarter operating earnings of 91 cents a share, beating the 16-analyst estimate of 88 cents and the year-ago 27 cents. Qualcomm also said its board approved a 4-for-1 common stock split and would hold a special meeting in December to vote on the split. For more details on Qualcomm's quarter, take a gander at the

story reported by

joint newsroom.

Thermo Instrument


was hopping 5/16 to 10 5/8 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, missing the two-analyst estimate by a penny but up from the year-ago 3 cents a share.

Tommy Hilfiger


was mounting 1 13/16, or 6.6%, to 28 15/16 after it posted fiscal second-quarter earnings of 79 cents a share, ahead of the 15-analyst estimate of 73 cents and above the year-ago 60 cents.

United HealthCare

(UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Report

was declining 1 9/16 to 53 3/4 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 81 cents a share, beating the 22-analyst estimate of 78 cents and ahead of the year-ago 66 cents.

Offerings and stock actions



was advancing 1 11/16, or 7.4%, to 24 1/2 after it said it set a $40 million addition to its existing stock buyback.

Be Free's


was soaring 20 3/16, or 168.2%, to 32 1/4 in its trading debut.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

priced the 5.6 million-share IPO top-range at $12.

Tyco International


was jumping 2 1/4, or 5.7%, to 41 11/16 after it said it set a 20 million-share repurchasing program.

Thomson Multimedia

(TSM) - Get Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Report

was unchanged at 35 1/4 in its trading debut. Goldman Sachs priced the 21.1 million-share IPO at $22.588 a share.

Goldman Sachs

upped its expected price range for



25 million-share IPO to $13 to $15 from $11 to $13. The offering is set to price on Thursday. For more on Webvan, check out's

Adam Lashinsky's



(VVI) - Get Viad Corp Report

was popping 1 to 25 3/4 after it said it plans to add $30 million to $50 million to its current $150 million share repurchasing program.

Analyst actions

Bear Stearns

upped its price target on


(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

to 90 to 95 from 75 to 80. Apple was rising 1 13/16 to 82.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

sliced its rating on

Beckman Coulter


to neutral from outperform. Beckson was inching up 1/4 to 49 1/2.

Merrill Lynch

upgraded shares of


(DE) - Get Deere & Company Report

to accumulate from neutral. Deere jumped 2, or 6.3%, to 39.


cut its rating on

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Report

to neutral from attractive, citing price. Goldman slipped 9/16 to 69 3/16.

Hambrecht & Quist

sliced its rating on

Hutchinson Tech


to market perform from buy. Hutchinson fell 3 5/16, or 14.4%, to 19 13/16.

J.P. Morgan

sliced its rating on


(NAV) - Get Navistar International Corporation Report

to market perform from buy. Navistar dropped 5, or 12%, to 36 5/8.

Credit Suisse First Boston


Nortel Networks


to strong buy from buy. Nortel rose 1 13/16 to 62 13/16.

Merrill Lynch reinstated coverage of the following oil stocks with buy ratings:


(TOT) - Get Total SA Report

, which jumped 1 1/2 to 64 1/4;


(TX) - Get Ternium SA Report

, which inched up 1/16 to 59 9/16;



, which slipped 7/16 to 26 11/16;


(XON) - Get Intrexon Corporation Report

, which fell 15/16 to 73 3/16; and

Amerada Hess

(AHC) - Get A.H. Belo Corporation Class A Report

, which moved up 1/2 to 55 3/4.

Merrill also started coverage of

Royal Dutch



Shell Transport

(SC) - Get Santander Consumer USA Holdings, Inc. Report




and BP Amoco with accumulate ratings. Royal Dutch gained 5/8 to 60 1/8, Shell Transport rose 3/16 to 45 15/16, Chevron added 1/16 to 88 13/16 and BP Amoco fell 1 1/8 to 54 1/8.

Merrill Lynch upped its rating on

Oxford Health Plans


to near-term accumulate from neutral . Oxford rose 1 15/16 to 17 3/8.

J.P. Morgan downgraded shares of


(PCAR) - Get PACCAR Inc Report

to market perform from buy. Paccar fell 2 11/16, or 5.7%, to 44 9/16.

First Boston upgraded



to strong buy from buy. The stock dropped 2 1/8 to 75 5/8.

PaineWebber raised its price target on



to 155 from 120. Sapient rose 3/8 to 130 13/16.

Merrill Lynch

rolled out coverage of

Spanish Broadcasting


with a buy rating and a price target of 36. Shares rose 1 to 27 7/8.

Herb on TheStreet: Why P.T. Barnum Would Love CellNet Investors


Herb Greenberg

Senior Columnist

11/3/99 6:30 AM ET

Are investors being fooled again? That's what one smart investor who specializes in the bonds of troubled companies was whispering to me yesterday about

CellNet Data Systems


, whose stock rose 19% after the company's subsidiary,

CellNet Funding


, announced that it will make a dividend payment on its preferred securities. This same source was among those whose wisdom I tapped for info on the likes of

Boston Chicken



Discovery Zone


and even

Just for Feet


after they had hit the skids.

CellNet Data, a provider of telemetry services, recently warned that it's having trouble raising much-needed cash and if it continues to have trouble, existing shareholders could find their investment diluted.

Herb's Latest: Send your thoughts and questions to


Message Boards.

But now, with this payment, some investors must be thinking the company is healthier than it's letting on. Unfortunately, according to a company spokesman, this was a regularly scheduled payment on the preferred out of an escrow account. "And people misunderstood it as a sign of health," our source says.

The real sign of health, or lack thereof, can be seen in CellNet Data's bonds, which are trading at 6 cents on the dollar, and the subsidiary's preferred stock, which has a face value of $25 per share, but is trading at 5 3/16. Yet CellNet Data still has a market value of $99.7 million. "That's laughable," he says. "I call this the smart money vs. the foolish money. They just don't understand. But when you've gone through a couple of these, it's always the same."

Yep, investors thinking they've found a bargain. For more info on what could happen, check out yesterday's

extra on Just for Feet.

And this column's Bomb of the Year award goes to:

An item

here in June started, "For those of you wondering if I have it in my heart to ever write anything remotely positive..." I went on to report how one of my sources, Ken Londoner of

Red Coat Capital

, liked

U.S. Franchise Systems


, a hotel franchising company. Londoner is a longtime tracker of the lodging industry, and he rarely goes on the record. So, here he was, willing to go on the record, and he had several compelling reasons he thought the company was attractive: a strong balance sheet, good management and lots of smart investors who already owned the stock.

But the column also questioned whether the USFS story was too good to be true and raised a few red flags of its own. And when I asked CFO Neal Aronson about risk, he responded, "Our risk is timing."