And ... action!
Relative to recent history, major averages were downright sloth-like today until some late-day histrionics sent traders scurrying into the weekend. The
Nasdaq Composite Index
each spurted to new highs once again, but the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
failed to complete the trifecta.
The party line among most market players was that today's was a sleepy session. Maybe so, but one trader said the last hour was marked by "people chasing stocks they're smelling a deal on."
Names he'd heard in the takeover rumor mill included:
Gemstar International Group
, which rose 2.7%;
Borden Chemical & Plastics
, up 14.7%; and
, which gained a further 6.3%.
"The amount they're chasing is crazy," the trader said, requesting anonymity. "I think things are toppy. If something happened somewhere to turn this around, the downside is pretty severe. If I have any hint I can play something on the short side and not get absolutely crushed, I'll do it."
Part of the something happening somewhere could be the postclose earnings warning from
, which said it expects to report first-quarter earnings of 15 cents a share. The
consensus calls for earnings of 31 cents.
The trader declined to reveal his shorts (even off the record!) but added he's only going long names "I feel have a real limited downside and tremendous upside. I'm not taking any big shots over the weekend."
is one name he is long.
Nasdaq Composite Index
was the strongest performer throughout the session, rising 19.66, or 0.8%, to an all-time high 2593.05. Technology stocks reverted back to form as the market's favored group, with Internet names leading the way.
led traditional tech bellwethers in over-the-counter trading. Meanwhile, Compaq (oops),
notched solid gains in Big Board action.
But it was far from an all-encompassing uprising among tech stalwarts.
were among leaders with notable losses.
lost 3.8% after
Credit Suisse First Boston
cut its recommendation.
closed up a scant 0.3%; the
Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35
rose 0.2%; while the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
Internet proxies were less restrained, however.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index rose 21.17, or 3%, to a record 731.93 while
TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index
gained 3.10, or 2.4%, to a record 131.82.
Outside the Net gauges,
rose 35.3% after setting a 2-for-1 stock split.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
closed down 23.86, or 0.2%, to 10,173.84 after rising as high as 10,212.13. The index emerged from an intraday low of 10,094.47 but was unable to overcome weakness in
, which fell 6.5% after merger rumors were refuted and
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
issued a downgrade.
was also a big drag on the index.
employed a late-day surge to set another new high of its own, up 4.37, or 0.3%, to 1348.35.
Airlines were a bright spot amid rumblings of a fare hike by
, which rose 7.1%, plus an aviation agreement between the U.S. and China. The
American Stock Exchange Airline Index
gained 4%. In reaction, the
Dow Jones Transportation Average
climbed 41.00, or 1.2%, to 3370.40.
Energy plays and retailers were also standouts. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index
rose 5.1% and the
American Stock Exchange Retail Index
gained 5.97, or 1.5%, to 405.86.
New York Stock Exchange
trading, 716.1 million shares were exchanged while gainers led losers 1,694 to 1,270. In
Nasdaq Stock Market
activity 1.1 billion shares were exchanged -- the third straight billion-plus-share session -- while advancers led 2,194 to 1,791. Moreover, new 52-week highs bested new lows 92 to 79 on the Big Board and by 120 to 87 in over-the-counter trading.
Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Even the threat of World War III -- however remote -- failed to rattle financial markets to any measurable degree today. The Kremlin denied early morning reports its nuclear missiles have been redirected toward
countries. But President
did warn that Russia could not let the deployment of NATO ground troops in Kosovo go "unanswered," should
change his pledge on that front.
Given the president's penchant for ...
¿ changing his mind, it's a little surprising market players weren't even a little concerned about Yeltsin's threat.
Basically it's just a quiet day," said Brian Piskorowski, market analyst at
, who confessed keeping one eye (at least) on a new Palm Pilot this afternoon. "The biggest fireworks this morning were what's going on in Europe; even
is a nonevent. We played our cards earlier in the week. We're going to sit back, ponder what's gone on thus far and start it again on Monday."
Reflecting on the market's moves this week, Piskorowski (speaking before the Compaq bombshell) said traders are clearly expecting positive earnings news in the coming days and weeks. "Now it becomes a question of put up, or shut up," he said. "And it's not only, 'What have you done for me in the first quarter,' but, 'What does the second half look like?' That's what the Street is watching and waiting for."
The analyst acknowledged the market looks ripe for a bout of profit-taking, but the long-term outlook remains positive and the "next advance" will be accompanied by improving breadth, he said.
Prudential remains favorably disposed on energy and financial stocks, looking forward to "easier comparisons" in the second half of the year, he said. That forecast is "predicated on a pickup in the global demand side, which lends credence to a view consumer products should bottom," he added.
Procter & Gamble
are likely beneficiaries.
Among other indices, the
Dow Jones Utility Average
slid 0.78, or 0.3%, to 296.33; and the
American Stock Exchange Composite Index
gained 5.57, or 0.8%, to 727.50.
The price of the 30-year Treasury bond fell 11/32 to 96 27/32, its yield rising to 5.47%.
For the week, the Dow industrials rose 340.49, or 3.5%; the S&P 500 gained 54.58, or 4.2%; the Nasdaq Comp climbed 99.34, or 4%; the Russell 2000 added 7.12, or 1.8%; TheStreet.com Internet index climbed 74.50, or 11.3%; TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index gained 15.70, or 13.5%; the Dow transports added 61.24, or 1.9%; the Dow utilities gained 1.32, or 0.4%; and the Amex Composite rose 16.20, or 2.3%.
Elsewhere in North American equities today, the
Toronto Stock Exchange 300
lost 42.83, or 0.6%, to 6889.77 and the
Mexican Stock Exchange IPC Index
rose 29.49, or 0.6%, to 5204.88. For the week, the TSE 300 gained 264.96, or 4%, and the IPC gained 274.51, or 5.6%.
Friday's Company Report
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.
Three not-so-little IPOs -- all Internet- or computer-related -- caught the session's biggest company-news headlines, which wasn't all that tough for what ended as a fairly quiet trading day. (Can't say as much for the after-hours day; see Compaq below.)
- Extreme Networks (EXTR) - Get Report shot up 38 3/8, or 225.7%, to 55 3/8 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter priced its 7 million-share IPO above range at $17. The company's software is used to handle traffic on local area computer networks.
iTurf (TURF) rocketed 35 1/2, or 161.3%, to 57 7/16 after
BT Alex. Brown and
Hambrecht & Quist priced its 4.2 million-share IPO top-range last night. iTurf, whose offering range was raised to $21 to $22 from $10 to $12, is the online unit of teen clothing retailer
dELiA*s (DLIA) , picked up 5/16 to 31 3/4.
USInternetworking (USIX) soared 36 1/8, or 172%, to 57 1/2 after
Credit Suisse First Boston priced its 6 million-share IPO above range. The company's service makes it possible for clients to access and use business and software applications over the Internet.
As noted above, theglobe.com climbed 20 5/8, or 35.3%, to an all-time high of 78 15/16 after last night announcing it plans to split its stock 2-for-1. Internet stocks continued their recent run toward outer space. A few standouts were
, which rose 27 11/16, or 26.6%, to an all-time high of 132 3/16;
, which rose 24 5/8, or 25.8%, to an all-time high of 119 1/2; and
, which rose 11 9/16, or 11.6%, to an all-time high of 112 1/2.
Compaq excelled 1 5/16 to 30 15/16 before issuing a first-quarter profit warning after the closing the bell. The world's largest PC maker now expects earnings of 15 cents a share, less than half the 33-analyst forecast for 31 cents. Compaq, which earned 1 cent in the year-ago period, blamed lower demand and increased pricing pressure.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
slipped 1/8 to 98 1/16 after the
European Union Commission
acquisition of the company. Lucent lowered 5/16 to 63 5/8.
skidded 6 9/16, or 11.4%, to 51 on word from analysts that Lucent, the company's largest customer, will outsource some of its telecommunications equipment production. Last night, the company posted second-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 15-analyst estimate and higher than the year-ago 15 cents. Today, Prudential lifted its 1999 earnings estimate for the company to 90 cents a share.
jumped 2 11/16, or 21.5%, to 15 3/16 after
Inside Wall Street column said the company has been the subject of takeover talk. Topping the list of companies rumored to be interested in buying e.spire, the column said, is
, which tacked on 3 7/8 to 89.
picked up 7/16 to 46 after announcing it's selling
, a pharmaceutical intermediates and bulk active chemicals business, to
Great Lakes Chemical
for $125 million. Great Lakes added 9/16 to 38 15/16.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
shed 3 1/16, or 19.8%, to an annual low of 12 1/2 after last night estimating it will record first-quarter earnings of 7 cents to 9 cents a share, which would fall below the 21-analyst outlook for 16 cents. The company, which made 11 cents in the year-ago period, cited delays in purchasing decisions.
sank 2 3/16, or 30.4%, to 5 1/32 after last night warning its first-quarter earnings probably will come in at a nickel a share, 2 cents shy of the seven-analyst forecast. The company, which lost 7 cents in the year-ago period, blamed a slower-than-expected rollout of its WaveWire product line and an ongoing wait for approval of its Vintage balloon catheter in Japan.
tumbled 5/8 to 13 15/16 after saying it expects first-quarter earnings of 21 cents to 23 cents a share. The two-analyst estimate called for 40 cents. The company said the early weeks of the quarter saw very weak demand, with improvement as the quarter progressed.
Key Energy Services
sloughed off 7/16, or 11.3%, to 3 7/16 after last night warning it sees a third-quarter operating loss of $1.15 to $1.20 a share due, in part, to depressed oil prices. The four-analyst forecast called for a loss of 22 cents vs. the year-ago profit of 35 cents. Key also said it started a recapitalization plan designed to reduce debt, increase shareholder equity and provide additional working capital.
Objective Systems Integrators
gave up 3/16, or 5.9%, to 3 1/16 after last night saying its third-quarter results will fall below estimates because of slower sales. The four-analyst view called for a loss of 3 cents vs. the year-ago loss of 5 cents.
soured 5 7/16 to 114 7/16 after
BancBoston Robertson Stephens
cut the stock to long-term attractive from buy and Hambrecht & Quist lowered it to market perform from buy. Yesterday, the company posted first-quarter earnings of 58 cents a share, in line with estimates.
expanded 1 1/4, or 5.8%, to 22 7/8 after
Deutsche Bank Securities
raised it to buy from accumulate.
surged 9/16, or 5.1%, to 11 21/32 after
started coverage with a market perform.
Inuit gave up 4 3/16 to 106 1/16 after Credit Suisse First Boston downgraded it to buy from strong buy.
advanced 1 1/2, or 6.3%, to 25 1/2 after
lifted it to near-term buy from accumulate while maintaining its long-term buy.
Union Carbide stumbled 3 5/16, or 6.5%, to 48 1/16 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter lowered it to neutral from outperform.
shaved off 11/16 to 84 13/16 after saying it's in talks with the
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California
to try to resolve the government's investigation of the company's promotion of a human growth hormone during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Genentech is discussing a settlement in which it would pay a criminal fine and restitution of $50 million.
leapt 3 9/16, or 5.8%, to 65 1/4 after last night agreeing, as part of a settlement of a patent lawsuit, to pay $35 million to
for a royalty-free license to its current and pending patents covering heart stimulation devices. Angeion, which fell 7/32, or 35%, to an all-time low of 7/16, agreed to an injunction prohibiting sales of the Sentinel Model 2010 defibrillator.
lost 11/16 to 186 5/16 after a
Business Week e-biz
report said the company plans to set up a Web site selling its entire line of PC products directly to small businesses and consumers.