Weekend Report: Columbia Energy Pursues Consolidated Natural Gas

Also, investors have more to chew on about Compaq.
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Sunday afternoon turned out pretty interesting, with the announcements that the two top leaders of

Compaq

(CPQ)

have resigned and that

Columbia Energy Group

(CG) - Get Report

has offered to buy

Consolidated Natural Gas

(CNG)

for roughly $6.7 billion, or $70 a share in cash and stock.

In February, Consolidated Natural had agreed to be bought by

Dominion Resources'

(D) - Get Report

for $6.3 billion in stock.

However, since the announcement of the deal, under which Dominion would exchange 1.52 shares for every Consolidated share, the value of the transaction has fallen to about $5.5 billion.

Columbia said the $70 a share offer consists of $24.50 in Columbia stock and $45.50 in cash, a hefty premium over Consolidated's closing price of 52 7/16 on Friday, and above Dominion's offer in February.

Turning to the Compaq news, which

shocked some investors, the world's largest personal computer maker said this afternoon that Chief Executive Eckhard Pfeiffer and Chief Financial Officer Earl Mason had resigned. Compaq's board named Chairman Ben Rosen and two vice chairmen -- Frank Doyle and Robert Ted Enloe III -- to a three-man office of the chief executive.

Over the weekend,

NATO

continued its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, Russia's ex-Prime Minister, who was appointed last week as Russia's special envoy in talks on the Yugoslav crisis, is set to present proposals to resolve the conflict on Monday, according to a

New York Times

report.

Meanwhile, India's Hindu nationalist government collapsed on Saturday. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee handed in his resignation to the India's president and agreed to stay on as caretaker until a new government is formed.

Looking to the week ahead on Wall Street, a hefty dosage of earnings reports are on tap, with corporate titans

Chase

(CMB)

,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

,

Exxon

(XON) - Get Report

,

Lucent

(LU)

and

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, to name just a few, slated to report quarterly results.

Among tomorrow's notables anticipated to report earnings:

BankAmerica

(BAC) - Get Report

and

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

.

For more on what's on the horizon for the market in the United States and Europe, please see

The Coming Week and

The Coming Week in Europe.

In Tokyo, the

Nikkei 225

average was trading lately down 78.10, or 0.5%, to 16,773.48. Meanwhile, South Korea's

Seoul Composite

was up 2.6%.

In other news:

  • America Online (AOL) is preparing to bring its Internet service to TV sets, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Saturday. The paper, citing several industry sources, reported that AOL has lined up at least two manufacturers to build set-top boxes that can send email, provide AOL's information services and browse the Web using a standard TV set and phone line.
  • Delta Air Lines (DAL) - Get Report said it was dissolving its codesharing agreement with Korean Air Lines after the South Korean airline suffered yet another crash on Thursday. Holly Hegeman wrote about the situation on Saturday.
  • Deutsche Telecom (DT) - Get Report and Telecom Italia (TI) confirmed today they're in talks about linking up.
  • Unionized journalists, technicians and support staff at Reuters (RTRSY) in the U.S. voted to authorize their negotiators to call a strike if necessary, the Newspaper Guild of New York said Friday. The vote allows the guild's president and nine-member bargaining committee to decide whether to call a strike at Reuters America, the main U.S. operating subsidiary of Reuters.

In the Papers

An article in the

New York Times'

Money & Business section today takes a look at

Revlon

(REV) - Get Report

, which is controlled by billionaire financier Ronald O. Perelman, under the headline: "Wrinkles Under The Surface At Revlon." Earlier this month, Revlon said it may sell one or more of its businesses to juice up its stock price and repay debt.

The Market Watch column reviews last week's massive shift from growth to value stocks. Byron R. Wien, U.S. investment strategist at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

, cited Compaq's recent earnings warning and the

European Central Bank's

April 8 interest-rate cuts as catalysts for the shift, the column says.

Despite the handsome gains in value stocks last week, the big question is whether or not the shift is going to last. Doug Cliggott, U.S. equity strategist at

J.P. Morgan

, says the value story has staying power, the column says. One reason he cites for the staying power is an upswing in global earnings, which he expects during the next six to 12 months.

The cover story this week in

Barron's

looks at how the formally secretive

Federal Reserve

has become more open.

Barron's

takes a long look at

Siemens

(SMAWY)

, which the publication says may be ready for a revival. In an interview with

Barron's

, Heinrich von Pierer, Siemens' CEO, said the company is "seeking a number of U.S. acquisitions."

Elsewhere in

Barron's

,

Chicago Title

(CTZ) - Get Report

CEO John Rau tells the publication he plans to trim costs to boost the company's financial results and points out three strong attractions of his company's stock for value investors: a strong balance sheet, its annual dividend payout and a hefty investment portfolio. The article also points out that the company has stepped up its acquisition activity to gain market share.

Fund manager Curt Alexander of

Media Group Research

gives

Barron's

some stock picks and pans. Alexander likes

Coinstar

(CSTR) - Get Report

,

ValueVision International

(VVTV)

,

Eidos

(EIDSY)

,

SBS Broadcasting

(SBTVF)

,

Central European Media

(CETV) - Get Report

,

Rogers Communications

(RG)

,

NTL

(NTLI)

, and

United International Holdings

(UIHIA)

. On the flip side, Alexander said he's short

Walt Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

and

Seagram

(VO) - Get Report

.