If the stock market is the
of our age, the betting these days is that he's got flame-retardant wings and a turbocharged jet pack.
Stocks finished the session off their intraday highs but still up enough for new closing records on several indices. Perhaps most notable was the small-cap
, bereft of new highs since Oct. 13's 465.21 before today's rise of 2.50 to 467.12. The less-popular
S&P SmallCap 600
, which broke its own new-high drought in late February, rose 1.27 to a record 195.53.
The SmallCap 600's big brother, the
, gained 4.22 to a record 1068.47 after setting an intraday high of 1069.18. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
poked close to another century mark, topping out at 8695.19 around 3 p.m. EST, but it settled for a rise of 32.63 to a record 8675.75.
were among the upside leaders, with
the chief laggards.
Over in techland,
Nasdaq Composite Index
up 8.34 to 1756.85 -- still well short of its Feb. 26 high of 1777.11. The large-cap
added 5.26 to 1153.87.
Equity volume remained
-strong and picked up even from
yesterday's massive levels.
New York Stock Exchange
advancers led decliners by 1,743 to 1,221 on 655.3 million shares, with 308 new highs ahead of 24 new lows. On the Nasdaq, 2,385 advancers bested 2,053 decliners on 844.8 million shares. New Nasdaq highs topped new lows by 244 to 50.
"Very simply, the market continues to flow along with the money that is coming at it," said Dick Stein, chief technical analyst at
Noble International Investments
in Boca Raton, Fla.
Mutual Fund Trim Tabs
reported today that a huge $4.4 billion flooded into U.S. equity funds on Monday alone, bringing the net inflow for the two days ended Monday to $2.8 billion. Forty-five managements received new cash Monday, with 18 flat and 27 reporting redemptions.
Stein said much of the valuation-stretching run in stocks stems from simple supply and demand, with mutual-fund buying and corporate repurchases sopping up more and more shares. "What is going to change that situation?" he asked. "I don't know, but there's nothing on the economic front that suggests it's going to change in the near future."
Like many strategists, Stein pointed to the market's willingness to rotate away from tech stocks and into consumer nondurables and other areas as a sign that the current trend can continue healthily. "Yes, you will get an
that sells in here at 600-some-odd times earnings, but that's the exception and not the rule," he said. AOL
, up 15/16 to 123 15/16, actually has a price-to-earnings ratio of a mere 538.9.
That kind of P/E looks like a signal of mania to some Wall Streeters, but Stein said his anecdotal sense is that today's retail investors have their heads in the game. "The majority of our accounts have no margin purchasing whatsoever," he said. "People are being much more reasonable and realizing that they have to take care of their future, that Uncle Sam is not going to do it."
Wednesday's Company Report
Earnings estimates from First Call; new highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified
Bank of Japan
Governor Yasuo Matsushita will resign this month in response to the bribery scandal now gripping the institution, Japan's
Nihon Keizai Shimbun
is reporting. Tokyo prosecutors arrested a senior bank official and charged him with taking bribes of sumptuous dinners and "other entertainment" from
Industrial Bank of Japan
in exchange for information on the Bank of Japan's market operations. The
Nihon Keizai Shimbun
, unlike U.S. news organizations, is well known as a direct conduit for government information, which suggests that Matsushita is indeed on his way out.
* * * * *
Investors used left-hand fingers to scratch their heads, as they wondered whether
is about to receive yet another takeover bid, and right-hand fingers to dial their brokers and whisper that three-little-lettered word. CSC enjoyed a jump of 4 11/16 to 101 5/8 from the speculation -- and stayed quiet.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
dived 7 7/8, or 24.3%, to 24 1/2 after the software maker said it and
won't renew their WCW World Championship Wrestling license agreement when it expires Dec. 29.
skyrocketed 4 1/16, or 16.1%, to 29 1/4 after agreeing to acquire
USA Waste Services
, up 3 7/8, or 9.9%, to 43, in a stock swap valued at $13.5 billion. The combined company would be the nation's largest solid waste management group, with approximately 20% of the market.
flew 2, or 16.3%, to 14 9/32 after
International Home Foods
, which gave up 3/8 to 31 1/8, agreed to buy it for $105 million, or $14.50 per share. Grist Mill was the Oct. 10 selection of
soared 3/4, or 13%, to 6 7/8 after the company agreed late
yesterday to end its strategic alliance with
climbed 2, or 8.3%, to 26 1/8 after announcing an agreement with
, which skidded 13/16 to 80 11/16, to combine their Java language technologies for use on Apple's Macintosh computers. Also,
acquired 3/4 to 27 11/16 on news that it will launch Apple "store within a store" environments at its superstores this weekend.
sailed 1 1/16, or 6.3%, to 17 15/16 after it agreed to be acquired by
, which shed 1 13/16 to 69 3/16, in a $175 million stock and cash deal.
closed at an all-time high of 94 3/4, up 1 1/16, after announcing it had agreed to sell its
Crum & Forster
insurance business to Toronto-based
for $680 million.
Earnings reports and previews
lowered 5 15/16, or 21.2%, to 22 1/4 after late
yesterday's warning that its second-quarter earnings could be 10% to 15% short of the eight-analyst consensus estimate of 33 cents per share.
Swisher International Group
plummeted 1 5/8, or 11%, to 13 1/8 after the cigar company said it would post lower-than-expected first-quarter earnings because of high wholesale inventories and slow retail sales.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
cut it to neutral from strong buy. Making a similar warning during yesterday's session was
, which tumbled 2, or 9.5%, to 19 after warning that its first-quarter earnings will show "little or no" growth from a year ago. Other stogie makers inhaling some second-hand smoke from the announcements:
General Cigar Holdings
lost 2 1/6, or 11.9%, to 15 1/4, and
Holt's Cigar Holdings
plunged 3/8 to 8.
vaulted 1 1/4, or 9.6%, to 14 1/4 after yesterday's post-close
announcement that the company will sell the British and Canadian units of its photofinishing group to an unnamed privately held company for $52.5 million. Nashua made the gain even after the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of 19 cents per share.
was up 2 7/8, or 7.9%, to an all-time high of 39 1/2 after
yesterday's post-close announcement that its fourth-quarter earnings were 79 cents -- up from both analysts' 73-cent estimate and the year-ago 35 cents.
rocketed 1 3/8, or 7.6%, to 19 1/2 even after announcing it will open 33 fewer stores in fiscal 1998 than it did last year as sales begin to flatten out. The company also reported a fourth-quarter loss of 32 cents.
picked up 1 1/2 to 73 9/16 after announcing third-quarter earnings of 83 cents per share, in line with the 15-analyst consensus estimate and up from the year-ago 78 cents.
Toys R Us
rose 3/8 to 28 3/8 after announcing fourth-quarter earnings of $1.32 -- up a penny from the 20-analyst outlook and down from the year-ago $1.37. The giraffe-loving toy company said it will focus on improving results by reducing holiday selling costs. The company also said it will open 15 stores in the U.S. and 35 internationally.
stacked on 3/8 to 9 after reporting first-quarter earnings of 3 cents per share, a penny ahead of the two-analyst expectation and up from the year-ago 1 cent.
shot up 11/16 to 22 15/16 after reporting third-quarter earnings of 34 cents per share, 2 cents better than the 11-analyst view and up from the year-ago 14 cents.
jumped 3 3/8, or 14.7%, to an all-time high of 26 5/8 after
Salomon Smith Barney
began coverage with a buy.
caved 2 3/4, or 14%, to 16 15/16 after J.P. Morgan lowered it to market perform from buy. Late
yesterday, Rock-Tenn warned that it expected weakening demand and inefficiencies at a new plant to reduce earnings by 7 cents to 13 cents per share each quarter for the rest of the fiscal year.
surrendered 2 3/16, or 12.7%, to 15 after
BT Alex. Brown
lowered it to market perform from buy. The telecommunications company reported after the bell
yesterday a fourth-quarter loss of 35 cents per share before charges, compared with a year-ago loss of 8 cents.
was up 2 5/16, or 5.7%, to 43 1/4 after
started coverage with a buy.
declined 3 9/16, or 5%, to 67 5/8 after
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
cut it to neutral from outperform.
fell 3/8 to 14 1/16 after Salomon Smith Barney downgraded it to outperform from buy. The firm also reduced Olympic's first-quarter earnings estimate to 19 cents per share from 21 cents and 1998 estimate to $1.05 from $1.15.
gave up 2 1/8, or 5.5%, to 36 3/8 after
cut it to hold from buy.
slipped 1 15/16, or 5.2%, to 35 1/4 after Salomon Smith Barney downgraded it to outperform from buy.
Offerings and stock actions
jumpstarted 1/4 to 10 3/4 after it and the private
Hard Rock Hotel
announced plans to sell $250 million of junk bonds each. Proceeds from the deal will be used to repay bank debt and finance new projects -- including joint ventures to build theater complexes, a sports-themed hotel in New York and a music-themed hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
Computer Learning Centers
sank 8, or 28.9%, to 19 47/64 on news that the Illinois attorney general filed a consumer fraud suit against the company. The lawsuit involves the way the company recruited potential students to enroll in courses at one of its campuses.
leapt 4 3/16, or 10.3%, to 44 3/4 after announcing that it signed licensing agreements with six leading hardware and software manufacturers.
ascended 1 1/6, or 6.6%, to an all-time high of 17 1/8 after the company added CEO to co-founder and president Stephen Leeolou's string of titles.
sprung 1 1/4, or 5.6%, to 23 3/4 after three of its data storage management products received Editor's Choice Awards from
Staff reporter John J. Edwards III contributed to Wednesday's Company Report