Tech Turnaround Sparks Rally in Nasdaq, Dow

Microsoft is among the leaders as the morning's doldrums fade, although breadth remains heavily negative.
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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

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get 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

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get 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.

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

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

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get 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

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get 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

Ariba

(ARBA)

is negotiating to acquire closely held

Tradex Technologies

for about $1.65 billion, the

Journal

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

Bergen Brunswig

(BBC) - Get 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 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.

CMGI

(CMGI)

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

Yesmail.com

(YESM)

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 Yesmail.com were popping 2 3/4, or 13.4%, to 23 5/8.

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Report

and

America Online

(AOL)

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.

DPL

(DPL)

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

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get 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 Report

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

Daewoo Motors

, the

Yonhap

news agency reported,

Reuters

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

Kmart

(KM)

announced its plans to launch its own Internet company called

BlueLight.com

. CEO Floyd Hall said

Softbank

division

Softbank Venture Capital

would back the Web company with $62.5 million, while

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

(MSO)

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

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

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

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Spinway.com

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

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

(KLM)

and

Continental Airlines

(CAL) - Get Report

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

Northwest

(NWAC)

and

Alitalia

. 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

(LU)

and

General Instrument

(GIC)

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 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.

Motorola

(MOT)

and

Redback Networks

(RBAK)

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

(NT)

said it has agreed to acquire

Qtera

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

(RXSD)

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

(ALSI)

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 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.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get 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

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com's

joint newsroom. Earlier today,

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

raised its rating on Oracle to strong buy from buy.

Pentair

(PNR) - Get 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

(TSAI)

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

(CZN)

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

(EOP)

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

Oakley

(OO)

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

Xtra

(XTR)

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

added

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get 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

(EBAY) - Get 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 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

Ford

(F) - Get 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

Inacom

(ICO)

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

Infospace.com

(INSP) - Get Report

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

PaineWebber

upgraded share of

Sallie Mae

(SLM) - Get 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

Tekelec

(TKLC)

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

(TNB)

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

Verity

(VRTY)

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.

Miscellany

Boeing

(BA) - Get 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

Journal

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

(DNB)

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

Journal

. 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

Monsanto

(MTC) - Get 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.

Viacom's

(VIA) - Get Report

MTV Networks

is under investigation by the

Justice Department

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

Journal

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