Thursday: Stocks Droop in Lackluster Trading

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By John J. Edwards III
Staff Reporter

Stocks dribbled lower in an unexciting session, with weakness in technology and other sectors outweighing a strong bond market. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

dimmed 27.05 to 7330.18, the broader

S&P 500

lost 3.13 to 844.03 and the tech-heavy

Nasdaq Composite Index

snapped a string of record closes with a loss of 7.07 to 1403.11.

The small-cap

Russell 2000

did manage to reach another all-time high, up 0.64 to 378.43, but that didn't reflect any widespread enthusiasm. "People are content to hold stocks right now, but there's no real action that's getting anyone's attention," one trader said.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, 1,435 advancers bested 1,043 decliners on volume of 464 million shares. On the Nasdaq, 2,146 advancers led 2,000 decliners on 629.5 million shares.

A good Treasury auction spurred bonds higher, with the yield on the bellwether 30-year Treasury bond dipping below the much-watched 7% level to 6.98%.

Anthony Spare, the persistently bearish CEO and chief investment officer of

Spare Kaplan Bischel & Associates

in San Francisco, said the current environment gives him no reason to come out of hibernation. "Our focus continues to be not on market timing but on owning inexpensive stocks," he said, naming telecommunications, utilities, cyclicals and financials as some of his top sector picks.

The

Investment Company Institute

reported that the combined assets of U.S. mutual funds rose to $3.729 trillion in April from $3.666 billion in March, with gains in stock funds and bond/income funds offsetting declines in money-market funds. Inflow into stock mutual funds is down so far this year compared with last year, with funds receiving $73.73 billion through April. Stock funds received $98.60 billion during the like period in 1996.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

weighed down the tech sector after

Salomon Brothers

downgraded the stock on price to buy from strong buy. Grand Bleu gave up 2 1/4 to 87 7/8,

Compaq

(CPQ)

lost 4 7/8 to 101 3/4,

Gateway 2000

(GTW:NYSE) fell 5 7/8 to 68 1/2 and

Dell Computer

(DELL) - Get Report

slid 5 to 110 3/8.

Seagate

(SEG)

dragged the disk-drive sector lower as panicked lemmings -- er, investors -- reacted to rumors that the company planned to hold a conference call with analysts. Seagate announced that it planned no such thing, but the announcement didn't come in time to stop the company's shares from diving 4 1/2 to 39 7/8. Other drive makers were trampled in the stampede out of Seagate, including

Komag

(KMAG)

, down 3 3/4 to 29 7/8,

Western Digital

(WDC) - Get Report

, down 4 7/8 to 54 3/8, and

Quantum

(QNTM)

, down 2 3/8 to 39 3/8.

The amorphous

Buffett

effect gave way to cold, hard reality for

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

today, as the company plunged 8 3/4 to 55 1/4 on its negative earnings outlook. Nike said it expects operating earnings of 55 cents to 61 cents per share in the fourth quarter ending Saturday. The

First Call

consensus estimate is 69 cents.

Alex. Brown

and

Merrill Lynch

downgraded the stock.

Novell

(NOVL)

lost 7/32 to 7 27/32 after reporting late yesterday a second-quarter loss of 4 cents per share, better than the year-earlier 15-cent loss but short of the First Call view of a 3-cent profit. The company announced the elimination of 1,000 jobs and said it expects a third-quarter operating loss.

Scholastic

(SCHL) - Get Report

surged 3 3/8 to 30 1/2 after forecasting break-even results for the fiscal year ending Saturday and saying it expects to cut annual costs by at least $25 million. Part of the savings will come from the elimination of more than 400 jobs, including a 10% staff cut at its New York headquarters.

Boston Chicken

(BOST)

was pecked down 1 1/4 to a two-year low of 16 3/4 after saying its second-quarter sales so far have been flat to slightly negative. The company next week plans to release details of a restructuring and hopes to spur sales into the plus column in the third quarter.

High-fashion goods purveyor

Gucci

(GUC)

soared 4 1/8 to 23 3/4 after

Piper Jaffray

upgraded the stock to strong buy from outperform. Piper set a 12-month price target of 30 on Cytyc, which today announced a marketing alliance with

Bristol-Myers Squibb's

(BMY) - Get Report

Mead Johnson

unit. The companies will jointly promote a Pap smear product. Bristol-Myers slipped 3/4 to 71 7/8.

Damark

(DMRK)

jumped 2 3/4, or 23.4%, to 14 63/64 after the company said it expects to exceed analysts' estimates for the second quarter and the full year. First Call's outlook calls for second-quarter earnings of 18 cents per share and 1997 earnings of 87 cents.

First Republic Bancorp

(FRC) - Get Report

lost 2 1/4 to 20 after it asked

Montgomery Securities

to call off its hunt for a buyer for the company. First Republic said it is weighing other options, including the acquisition of another company.

Kimberly-Clark

(KMB) - Get Report

gave up 2 1/8 to 50 after

Bear Stearns

downgraded the stock to neutral from attractive.

Millennium Pharmaceuticals

(MLNM)

moved up 1/2 to 17 after

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

agreed to invest $20 million in a new Millennium unit. Lilly dipped 1/2 to 91 1/4.

Pall

(PLL) - Get Report

fell under one, losing 1/2 to 23 5/8 after reporting third-quarter operating earnings of 29 cents per share. The First Call expectation was 32 cents, matching the year-ago figure.

Chicago Bridge & Iron

(CBI:NYSE) gained 1 1/8 to a post-offering high of 21 after

Goldman Sachs

initiated coverage and placed it on the recommended list.

Furon

(FCY)

rose 1 5/8 to 25 3/4 after reporting first-quarter earnings of 54 cents per share, up from the year-ago 50 cents and well ahead of the First Call view of 49 cents.

Biacore International

(BCORY)

leapt 1 3/8 to 13 1/2 after acquiring the worldwide distribution rights to the Quake II video game.

Delgratia Mining

joined

Bre-X Minerals

in the ranks of troubled gold companies formerly listed on the Nasdaq, with that market moving today to delist the outfit. Nasdaq said the integrity of the company's financials had been brought into "serious question." Delgratia's Nevada field, like Bre-X's Indonesian one, turned out to be goldless. Delgratia's shares had been halted since May 19, having closed at 12 on May 16. Masochists and shorts can still find Delgratia on the OTC Bulletin Board and on the pink sheets.