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March 11, 1999: 2:27 p.m. ET

Wall Street's record heat outpaces oil-buying fires, but cigar firms sputter
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - An early rally in oil-field stocks guttered slightly by Thursday afternoon, although not before setting a fire under Wall Street to help drive out the chill cast by scattered profit warnings.
     Petroleum prices wavered ahead of an important meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC member Mexico, but investors had already banked on supply cuts and higher prices ahead.
     In response, shares of drillers, rig operators and other oil-field service companies dominated the list of early Wall Street winners before curbing their fires somewhat.
     Benton Oil and Gas (BNO) was an early top gainer, climbing 3/4 to 4-5/8, but B.J. Services (BJS) held on to only minimal gains, up 1/8 at 18-1/8.
     Exploration firm Nuevo Energy (NEV) jumped 1-1/8 to 9-7/16 after being rated a "buy" by Jefferies & Co., while driller Pride International (PDE) added 5/16 to 7-1/2.
     New Jersey-based service company Key Energy (KEG) broke the litany of Gulf climbers, gaining 3/4 to 4-1/2, but Houston regained the ball with Marine Drilling (MRL), up 3/8 at 8-15/16, and Atwood Oceanics (ATW), up 11/16 at 25.
     On the Nasdaq, the oil-field surge included Miller Exploration 's (MEXP) gain of 1/4 to 3-7/8. Horizon Offshore (HOFF) added 1 to 7 and Bellwether Exploration (BELW) crept up 1/2 to 3-1/2.
     The American Stock Exchange also fed into the buying flood, with UTI Energy (UTI) gaining 5/8 to 8-1/8 and Seven Seas Petroleum (SEV) climbing 5/16 to 5-13/16.
Nuevo Energy - 3 month chart

Back among the warnings

     However, the oil-field fires failed to warm investors to wireless telephony firm Brightpoint (CELL), which fell 7-1/16 to 5-15/16, losing more than half its value after warning of profit disappointments ahead.
     "We are very disappointed in the outlook for our first quarter," stated Robert J. Laikin, Brightpoint chairman and CEO. Before accounting adjustments, the company expects to break even in the quarter, while analysts had looked forward to a profit of 22 cents per share.
     Brightpoint blamed supply difficulties in the Pacific Rim and the fluctuation of the Brazilian currency for its shortfall, and added that "these factors may also impact the remaining quarters of 1999."
     No less than five Wall Street analysts downgraded their ratings of the company, cutting formerly bullish recommendations to "neutral," "hold" or "market perform."
Brightpoint - 3 month chart

Other disappointments

     Also joining the grim parade, e-commerce programmer Rainbow Technologies (RNBO) warned that weaker software revenue industrywide would bite into current-quarter profit, knocking shares down 3-11/16 to 11-3/4.
     Clothier Nautica Enterprises (NAUT) fell 1-5/16 to 12-1/16 on its own depressing prediction of soft profit ahead for both the current quarter and the succeeding period.
     Disappointing earnings at AnnTaylor (ANN) gave Nautica some company on the Wall Street sale counter. The retailer reported fourth-quarter profit of 42 cents per share, missing forecasts by a penny and sending shares down 7/8 to 45-5/16.
     Cigar distributor 800-JR Cigar (JRJR) tumbled 6-1/2 to 8-3/4 after reporting that revenue in the fourth quarter had touched record levels, but profits had sagged under "downward price pressure." The company noted that these pressures were industrywide, helping drive shares of competitor General Cigar Holdings (MPP) down 1/4 to 7-1/4.
     However, investors proved capricious, sending Land's End (LE) stock up 2-3/4 to 33-1/2 even though the company missed estimates by a much wider margin of 6 cents per share.
     Barnes & Noble (BKS) shares climbed 3-1/8 to 30-1/4 for more straightforward reasons. The bookseller reported market-satisfying fourth-quarter earnings and revenue topping $1 billion
Barnes & Noble - 1 year chart

Hookups in the dark

     On the Internet, America Online (AOL) picked up the pace, climbing 2-11/16 to 95-1/2 on an announcement that regional telephone provider SBC Communications (SBC) will make faster DSL Internet connections available to AOL customers.
     TMP Worldwide (TMPW), owner of Internet help-wanted site, fell 1-5/8 to 68-1/4 after buying off-line executive-search agency LAI Worldwide (LAIX) for approximately $6 million. LAI shares, however, climbed 3/16 to 6-7/8.
     High-tech slot machine maker International Game Technology (IGT) crept up 5/8 to 15-1/4 on the strength of its fresh $230 million merger with competitor Sodak Gaming (SODK), while Sodak shares gained 1-1/8 to 9-1/8.
     Biotech company Procept (PRCT) leapt 2-9/16 to 4-13/16 after announcing that its PRO 2000 Gel had successfully protected rhesus monkeys from the AIDS-causing HIV virus, while Amgen (AMGN) jumped 4-7/8 to 75-3/8 after saying late Wednesday it will collaborate on a prostate cancer treatment.
     The threat of a possible $100 million charge ahead did little to deter investors from buying Hughes Electronics (GMH), which climbed 11/16 to 48-7/16 despite concerns over its satellite contracts with China.
     Finally, Infosys Technologies (INFY), the day's only IPO and the first Indian company to be traded in U.S. markets, leapt 12-5/8 to 46-5/8 from its starting price of $34 in its debut afternoon. Back to top


Dow rockets toward 10,000 - March 11, 1999

CNNfn after the bell - March 10, 1999


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