Publish date:

midday12-15-99's MIDDAY UPDATE

December 15, 1999

Market Data as of 12/15/99, 1:20 PM ET:

o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 11,261.10 up 100.93, 0.90%

o Nasdaq Composite Index: 3,602.22 up 30.56, 0.86%

o S&P 500: 1,414.81 up 11.64, 0.83%

o TSC Internet: 1,090.07 down 7.36, -0.67%

o Russell 2000: 459.65 down 3.10, -0.67%

o 30-Year Treasury: 97 16/32 down 2/32, yield 6.305%

In Today's Bulletin:

o Midday Musings: Tech Turnaround Sparks Rally in Nasdaq, Dow
o Herb on TheStreet: Getting to the Bottom of a Pink-Sheet Promote

Also on

Wrong! Rear Echelon Revelations: Weighing In on Scale

Companies that aren't scaling quickly enough need to re-examine their strategies now, Cramer says.

Banking: At Wells Fargo and Citigroup, a Bank-Stock Flight to Quality

But the richly priced shares have some observers looking elsewhere for bargains. Discount Days Are Over for Israeli Stocks

That doesn't mean the whole bunch is fully valued, but many are now getting some attention.

Dear Dagen: Dear Dagen: When Trading Gets Hectic, Nasdaq Can Get Cross(ed)

A crossed market happens when buy and sell prices get out of whack.

Midday Musings: Tech Turnaround Sparks Rally in Nasdaq, Dow


Eileen Kinsella

Staff Reporter

12/15/99 1:32 PM ET

At recess time on Wall Street, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was out in the yard playing, while the

Nasdaq Composite Index

had left detention, where it spent most of the morning as moderate profit-taking continued in the tech-laden sector. The Comp's offense? It was just too darn rowdy of late, and investors thought it needed a little discipline.

The Comp's good behavior earned it some brownie points, as it bounced off a morning intraday low of 3503 and was lately up 27, or 0.8%, to 3599.

Earlier this morning, "it looked there might be some panic," in tech stocks, said Brian Finnerty, head of trading at

C.E. Unterberg Harris

. "I don't see a lot of selling. I see the chasing has stopped though," said Finnerty, adding this doesn't look like the long-awaited correction people have been worrying about yet. Nasdaq breadth was looking pretty bad, though, with laggards thumping leaders (see below).

A positive earnings report from


(ORCL) - Get Oracle Corporation Report

last night was lifting the stock 12.9%, this morning. But the optimism it inspired was somewhat overshadowed by the overreaction to news that


(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

said net sales could grow at a slower pace in the future in a quarterly filing with the

Securities and Exchange Commission


Cisco was sliding 2.3%, and never mind that it said the sales guidance reiterated a long-standing outlook. After the winning sprint that technology stocks have had in recent weeks, tech investors are understandably throwing a lot of nervous glances over their shoulders.

Philip Tasho, CEO of

Riggs Investment Management

in Washington, saw the Nasdaq's action yesterday and this morning as understandable but unwarranted. "Is there a rational reason for profit-taking

in the Nasdaq? No. Do I think the fundamentals have changed? No." Tasho believes that much of the investment in the tech sector is focused on the fact that this is a longer-term trend. Still, he says "a drop of 25% to 35% in the Nasdaq, that would be the threshold of pain for a lot of people."

The Dow was having a good day, quickly reversing an early-morning dip and lately rising 98, or 0.9%, to 11,258.


(BA) - Get Boeing Company Report

was helping out, lifting 3%, on news that the aerospace company is expected to announce orders worth about $8.5 billion.


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report

contributed to the gain as well, rising 6.3%, after it said a new Windows 2000 operating system was released for manufacturing. The stock hit an all-time intraday high of 105 1/4, making

Bill Gates

... let's see ... yes, rich. Very rich.

Oil prices were rallying again as dealers cited the latest weekly U.S. data showing another sharp decline in crude oil stocks. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was jumping 5.3%, while the

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was up 2.6%.

The benchmark 30-year Treasury was down 2/32 to 97 17/32, its yield at 6.31%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early

Bond Focus.)

Market Internals

Breadth was negative, particularly on the Nasdaq, on moderate to heavy volume.

New York Stock Exchange:

1,347 advancers, 1,627 decliners, 650 million shares. 37 new 52-week highs, 338 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market:

1,567 advancers, 2,393 decliners, 1.06 billion shares. 68 new highs, 136 new lows.

Wednesday's Midday Watchlist

By Tara Murphy
Staff Reporter

Here's something for the much-ado-about-nothing category. Reports that


(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

said it expects "that in the future, our net sales may grow at a slower rate than experienced in previous periods, and that on a quarter-to-quarter basis, our growth in net sales may be significantly lower than our historical quarterly growth rate," according to its 10-Q filing with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

filed yesterday, hurt the stock ahead of the open. However, the language cited in reports has been standard language for the company in recent SEC filings. Shares of Cisco were slipping 2 3/4 to 95 1/8.


Brian Louis

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures



is negotiating to acquire closely held

Tradex Technologies

for about $1.65 billion, the


reported. Shares of Ariba were falling 6 1/2 to 227 1/2.

Bergen Brunswig

(BBC) - Get Virtus LifeSci Biotech Clinical Trials ETF Report

was edging up 3/16 to 8 after it said it has inked a five-year primary source pact with

Duane Reade

(DRD) - Get DRDGOLD Limited Sponsored ADR Report

. Bergen Brunswig said Duane Reade would purchase roughly $1 billion in products throughout the life of the agreement. Shares of Duane Reade was sliding 11/16 to 21 13/16.



was retreating 6 7/16 to 198 11/16 after it said it would acquire


for stock. CMGI said it would issue 0.1252 CMGI shares for each share of Yesmail.

US Bancorp Piper Jaffray

rolled out coverage of CMGI with a strong buy rating. Shares of were popping 2 3/4, or 13.4%, to 23 5/8.

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Chemours Co. Report


America Online


have entered an agreement which calls for Circuit City to market AOL's products and services in its store.

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

began coverage of Circuit City with a buy rating and a price target of 57. Shares of Circuit City were climbing 3, or 7.6%, to 42, while America Online was sinking 3 15/16 to 84 15/16.



was tacking on 3/16 to 16 13/16 after it announced its plans to sell its natural-gas distribution division for $425 million.


(ATHM) - Get Autohome, Inc. Sponsored ADR Class A Report



(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report

are negotiating a possible pact that would deploy enhanced TV. Shares of Excite@Home were bouncing 2 to 50 15/16, Microsoft was mounting 3 3/16 to 101 7/8.

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report

has launched a $5.3 billion to $6.2 billion offer for the financially floundering

Daewoo Motors

, the


news agency reported,


said. Shares of GM were adding 11/16 to 71 1/16.



announced its plans to launch its own Internet company called

. CEO Floyd Hall said



Softbank Venture Capital

would back the Web company with $62.5 million, while

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia


, which is already in a retail partnership with Kmart, also plans to make a "strategic investment."



will give Bluelight with personalized Web content. Other partners in the initiative include


(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report


. Shares of Kmart were sliding 7/8 to 11 3/8.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines



Continental Airlines

(CAL) - Get Caleres, Inc. Report

said they have agreed to a joint marketing pact. The announcement is seen as progress toward a global alliance between Continental, KLM,





. The pact includes passenger and baggage check-in and exchangeable frequent flyer program participation. Shares of KLM Royal Dutch were hopping 1 9/16, or 6.2%, to 26 5/8, while Continental shares were declining 1/8 to 41 7/16.

Lucent Technologies



General Instrument


said they have agreed to a joint development and marketing deal to design a system for telephone service over cable lines. The two companies said they would combine the software that runs their equipment.

Separately, General Instrument said it received an order from

Charter Communications

(CHTR) - Get Charter Communications, Inc. Class A Report

for 1 million interactive digital consumer terminals. Lucent was losing 1 5/8, while General Instrument was bouncing 4 11/16, or 6.9%, to 72 5/8. Charter Communications was skidding 1/16 to 22 5/8.




Redback Networks


have teamed to provide an end-to-end system to reduce the time it takes cable providers to activate new subscribers for cable Internet access. Shares of Motorola were soaring 7 3/4, or 6.4%, to 127 3/16, while Redback Networks was declining 1 3/8 to 139 1/2.

Nortel Networks


said it has agreed to acquire


in a stock deal valued at up to $3.25 billion. Nortel said the price of the deal would be partly determined on Qtera meeting "certain business objectives." The acquisition would not add to fiscal earnings until 2001. Shares of Nortel were dwindling 1 3/8 to 86 11/16.

Rexall Sundown


was unchanged at 10 1/16 after it said it has entered an agreement to purchase closely held

MET-Rx Nutrition

, in a deal valued at $108 million.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews


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


Advantage Learning


was plummeting 11 3/4, or 51.9%, to 10 15/16 after late

yesterday warning of a fourth-quarter earnings shortfall. U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray cut its fourth-quarter earnings forecast to 8 cents a share from 17 cents and cut the stock to buy from strong buy, while

Merrill Lynch

dropped it to near-term neutral from accumulate and to long-term accumulate from buy.

Boston Scientific

(BSX) - Get Boston Scientific Corporation Report

was climbing 7/8 to 19 7/8 after it said it expects fiscal 2000 sales growth to slow to about 8% and set an earnings-per-share target of $1.20 for the year.

TheStreet Recommends


(ORCL) - Get Oracle Corporation Report

was jumping 9 15/16, or 12.9%, to 87 after it reported second-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, beating the 30-analyst estimate of 22 cents and the year-ago 19 cents. For more on Oracle's

earnings, check out the coverage provided by's

joint newsroom. Earlier today,

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

raised its rating on Oracle to strong buy from buy.


(PNR) - Get Pentair plc Report

was gaining 7/16 to 34 13/16 after it said it is on track to meet or beat the fiscal 1999 nine-analyst consensus estimate of $2.86 a share. The company also said it agrees with the nine-analyst estimate of $3.64 a share.

Transaction Systems Architects


warned investors that it expects first-quarter and fiscal 2000 earnings to greatly miss consensus estimates, citing Y2K woes. The company expects to post first-quarter earnings of 2 cents to 9 cents a share and fiscal 2000 earnings of $1.29 to $1.46 a share. The eight-analyst estimate is forecasting first-quarter earnings of 38 cents and the nine-analyst estimate sees fiscal 2000 earnings at $1.70. Transaction Systems was falling 5 5/16, or 16.6%, to 26 3/4.

Offerings and stock actions

Citizens Utilities


was edging up 3/8 to 13 9/16 after it said it set a share repurchasing plan for up to $100 million.

Equity Office Properties Trust


was declining 1/16 to 20 15/16 after it said it has set a $250 million stock-buyback program.



was tacking on 11/16, or 11.4%, to 6 11/16 after it said it has set a $20 million share-repurchasing program.



was shedding 1/16 to 40 15/16 after it said it repurchased 720,000 shares from its biggest shareholder,

Tiger Management

, for $30 million. Tiger still holds a 26% interest in the company.

Analyst actions

Goldman Sachs


Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Class A Report

to its recommended list. Shares of Abercrombie were gaining 3, or 12.3%, to 27 1/4.

J.P. Morgan

initiated coverage of


(EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report

with a buy rating and a price target of 230. eBay was up 3 5/8 to 154 1/8.

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray upped its price target on

Factset Research

(FDS) - Get FactSet Research Systems Inc. Report

to 77 from 63. Shares of Factset Research was climbing 2 1/8 to 70 5/8.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

upped its rating on


(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report

to an outperform to a neutral. Shares of Ford were advancing 1 7/8 to 50 3/8.

Credit Suisse First Boston

cut its fiscal 1999 earnings-per-share estimates on



to a 40-cent loss from a loss of a penny and lowered its rating to a hold from a strong buy. Inacom were shedding 2 3/4, or 30.5%, to 6 1/4.

Goldman Sachs began coverage of

(INSP) - Get Inspire Medical Systems, Inc. Report

with a market outperformer rating. Shares of were faltering 3 1/2 to 140.


upgraded share of

Sallie Mae

(SLM) - Get SLM Corp Report

to an attractive from neutral. Shares of Sallie Mae were adding 1 3/4 to 44 5/16.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

raised its rating on



to strong buy from buy. Shares of Tekelec were bouncing 1 7/8, or 10.4%, to 19 15/16.

Merrill Lynch sliced its rating on

Thomas & Betts


to intermediate-term neutral from accumulate. Shares of Thomas & Betts were plummeting 10 11/16, or 27.2%, to 28 1/2.

Banc of America Securities

cut shares of



to market perform from buy after the company posted second-quarter earnings below its year-ago report. Shares of Verity were sinking 23 3/16, or 47%, to 26 1/8.



(BA) - Get Boeing Company Report

will announce firm orders for 120 planes valued at about $8.5 billion,

The Wall Street Journal

reported, citing execs close to the deals. The


reported that the announcement from Boeing could come as early as today. Shares of Boeing were adding 1 5/16 to 39 13/16.

Dun & Bradstreet


is expected to vote on management's plan to split its

Moody's Investors Service

unit into a separate firm, people familiar with the matter said, according to the


. Shares of Dun & Bradstreet were 2 1/2, or 9%, to 29 1/2.

A group of U.S. and French farmers filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Washington against


(MTC) - Get MMTec, Inc. Report

, charging it with attempting to monopolize genetically modified crops and with not thoroughly testing the products for safety. Monsanto said the allegations are "absolutely baseless." Monsanto was declining 7/8 to 41.


(VIA) - Get Viacom Inc. Class A Report

MTV Networks

is under investigation by the

Justice Department

for alleged antitrust violations in dealings with big music companies, the


reported. Shares of Viacom were losing 9/16 to 54 11/16.

Herb on TheStreet: Getting to the Bottom of a Pink-Sheet Promote


Herb Greenberg

Senior Columnist

12/15/99 6:29 AM ET

Wednesday Washout

Pink-sheet sham?

This column goes out of its way


to report on pink-sheet companies. But in this market, where fundamentals appear to be irrelevant and where new investors are likely to feel invincible after a few good trades, an exception might be

GK Intelligent Systems


. Here's a company that was the topic of a

Houston Chronicle

story last summer about how its executives left and its Web site and phones were disconnected -- a company that the newspaper said has "vanished" -- yet it trades (and fairly actively in recent days) on the pink sheets at around 31 cents a share. The stock actually rose 16% on Friday for no apparent reason; it rose again yesterday by another 15%.

How can a stock that doesn't exist trade? More likely than not, it reflects year-end covering by short-sellers, according to Cromwell Coulson, chairman of the

National Quotation Bureau

, which operates the pink sheets. He says shareholders and short-sellers need the stock to continue trading, even if the company is on what he calls "life support," so they can unwind their holdings. In fact, he says companies that are defunct are likely to continue trading unless they've formally filed for bankruptcy. (GK's incorporation has been suspended by the state of Delaware, but it can be reinstated if the company pays current and back fees of $4,200.) Don't laugh: These defunct companies can and do spring back to life when promoters buy their shells.

In the interim, isn't it dangerous to allow a stock to keep trading when the company itself has disappeared? Couldn't people be duped into buying what is nearly a worthless company?

Indeed, says Coulson, but he adds that "you cannot regulate against stupidity. You have to do homework before you invest. You have to look under the hood. You should know how to invest in these companies. This is an area that can be very inefficient.

"Look at



," he says. "The 'Iridiots' are not going to get anything. And yet the stock recently traded for $6. But go look at a daytrader who doesn't care what

Iridium is doing. He may have got in at $2 and got out at $4.

"I wish people were smarter. But you cannot regulate against 'Iridiocy.'" (His words, not ours.) We tried calling GK, but, as the

Houston Chronicle

reported, there doesn't seem to be anybody home.

Taking out the Garbage:

After considerable deliberation with Greenberg's

Garbage Index selections committee (


and me), we've decided to refine the index to only include stocks that, in the past, were no-hit wonders or flashes-in-the-pan or have no profits. That means



is out and

WebLink Wireless


is in. Corel, while up on little more than the Linux love-fest, is making money, and besides, there are simply too many Corels out there; Linux stories should be

Red Hots or something else. WebLink, meanwhile, was called

PageMart Wireless

until Dec. 1. It did and does operate a large network. Then it created a new focus and put "Web" in its name. What next, Linux? (I'm sure WebLink fans will argue that it had positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, but the company has never earned a dime of real earnings, and in fact, it has an accumulated deficit of $392 million.) Ever since, its stock, which had been given up for dead, has come back to life.

Since its creation last week, the Garbage Index has slipped nearly 6.5%. And this note to those who have griped about the inclusion of a favorite stock in this index (after all, nobody wants to see their company labeled "garbage"): The index was compiled with suggestions from Wall Street's sharpest short-sellers, who have tracked these stocks, on and off, for years. (Most were surprised to see their recent phoenix-esque performances.) The index's purpose is to shine a light on today's highfliers that have a history of not living up to expectations -- stocks that are swept up in the euphoria of a market that has no limits. One or more may turn out to be a great company, but until that happens, investors have nothing but their history of broken promises and/or wacky financials.

Speaking of which, a great idea sparked by an comment from a regular on my message boards: The Greenberg Family of Indices is proud to introduce the

Greenberg Effect Index. These are stocks that rise, as if out of defiance, to items here that have questioned their fundamentals and valuations. The current index:

Lernout & Hauspie



Ancor Communications



Cree Research

(CREE) - Get Cree, Inc. Report





Diamond Technology Partners



Join the discussion on

Herb's Latest or the

Greenberg Garbage-Index


The purpose of this index? To serve as a reminder that, historically, most stocks that experience the Greenberg Effect also experience the reverse-Greenberg effect. And


usually happens when investors expect it the least. Just go back and look at







Engineering Animation



Network Associates



CHS Electronics



HMT Technology



Stewart Enterprises


, etc., etc., etc.

Herb Greenberg writes daily for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.

Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column. Community

Join longtime tech watcher Jim Seymour today for a Q&A about the future of Microsoft, B2B and other tech-related queries. Post your questions now. Seymour will be jumping on the board Wednesday afternoon to answer all yourqueries.

Then, check out the new Message Board Index Guide. It's an easy way to find our individual equities boards from B2B to Red Hots to more.

Copyright 1999,