NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Despite a tentative climate on Wall Street Thursday morning, drug makers and small mergers proved the old adage that individual stocks are what makes the market.
Prime Bancorp (PBNK) shares climbed 7 to 25 after reporting it has agreed to merge with regional bank Summit Bancorp (SUB) for $292 million. Summit stock slid 1/2 to 38-7/8.
Disk maker Western Digital (WDC) gained 1/4 to 10-3/8 on the strength of the divestiture of its disk media business to rival Komag, which will pay $80 million in stock for the unit. Komag (KMAG) shares gained 11/16 to 7-5/16 on the combination of the deal buzz and an upgrade to "buy" from Hambrecht & Quist.
Widely-held software company PeopleSoft (PSFT) climbed 3/8 to 17-11/16 as shareholders rallied to news that the company will not have to restate its earnings as had previously been feared.
A delayed response to profits from waste-disposal firm Superior Services (SUPR) drove Morgan Stanley to rate the stock "outperform" and pushed shares up 1-1/2 to 19-1/4. The company had surprised Wall Street Tuesday by reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 26 cents per share exclusive of costs related to its acquisition of GeoWaste Inc.
On the losing end of the rating game, industrial supplier MSC Industrial Direct (MSM) slid 2-5/16 to 21-3/4 after Prudential lowered its "strong buy" recommendation on the stock to "accumulate."
Skytel Communications (SKYT) slid 2-13/16 to 21-1/16 despite reporting a sharply narrower fourth-quarter loss.
Chip-equipment maker Sipex (SIPX) also stumbled on apparently encouraging earnings, falling 10-1/16 to 13-3/4 after reporting fourth-quarter profit of 37 cents per share, while Wall Street had forecast per-share earnings of only 17 cents.
However, the company's Chairman, President and CEO James E. Donegan was "cautious" about the short-term profit outlook, warning shareholders in a release that the market "is still relatively soft overall and with continued price pressure" and that the company's ability to grow "will be dependent upon a higher level of orders received and shipped in the same quarter than has historically been our experience."
Drug stocks welcome Glaxo profits
Encouraging second-half profits boosted New York shares of British pharmaceutical firm Glaxo Wellcome (GLX) up 1-7/16 to 65-15/16 and gave a lift to the broader drug sector. Fellow UK drugmaker Zeneca Group (ZEN) climbed 1/2 to 42-5/16 in New York, celebrating both Glaxo's good news and its own encroaching merger with Sweden's Astra (A).
Elsewhere in the sector, Amgen (AMGN) climbed 2-3/4 to 125-1/4, Immunex (IMNX) leapt 2-15/16 to 139-11/16, and Eli Lilly (LLY) added 2-3/16 to 90-11/16, while American depositary receipts (ADRs) of Israeli drug firm Teva (TEVIY) climbed 1 to 40-15/16.
However, the early rush was of little benefit to Schering-Plough (SGP), down 1/8 to 54-3/16, and Biogen (BGEN), flat at 90-3/8 after saying it will pay up to $25 million to biotech firm Inhale Therapeutic Systems (INHL) for an inhalable form of the Avonex multiple sclerosis drug. Inhale shares climbed 11/16 to 29-5/16.