NEW YORK (CNNfn) - A possible union of two natural-gas companies energized investors early Monday, as did a restructuring plan offered by a top computer retailer. But traders continued to shut out Internet stocks.
Word that the Columbia Energy Group (CG) had placed an unsolicited $7 billion bid to acquire Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) fueled the companies' stocks, albeit in opposite directions.
Consolidated rose 5-7/16 to 57-7/8 on the news, while Columbia fell 3-1/8 to 45-1/8, largely on concerns the firm was willing to assume about $2 billion in Consolidated debt -- a provision that immediately drew a concerned eye from credit rating companies Moody's and Fitch IBCA.
Compusa Inc. (CPU), announced Monday it would lay off 200 employees to help streamline its CompUSA computer stores. That sent the company's stock climbing 5-9/16 to 58.
Outerwear retailer Starter Corp. (STA) had a much harder time moving its stock off the shelves, however, after failing to file its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, which blamed the delay on its inability to reach an agreement with its equity investors and current lenders, watched its stock fall 5/8 in price to 1-3/4.
Investors were likewise indifferent to companies actually showing them the money.
Eli Lily & Co. (LLY) fell 4-15/16 to 77-3/8 despite matching Wall Street's first-quarter earnings expectations Monday, while Nextel Communications Inc. (NXTL) nudged only 1/16 ahead to 38-1/16 after posting its first-ever positive cash flow.
In fact, Case Corp. (CSE) was one of the few that survived Wall Street's malaise over earnings, climbing 1-1/8 to 34-1/16 after beating analysts' predictions.
There was a lot of predicting surrounding Metris Co. (MTRS) after the company received a ratings upgrade from U.S. Bancorp and saw an immediate upgrade in its stock price as well. Shares in the consumer credit product marketer rose 6-1/8 to 60-1/8 after analyst Jeffrey Evanson said he saw stronger than expected first-quarter profits.
But the always-unpredictable Internet remained in the investors' doghouse as formally hot issues continued their free fall, including Ameritrade (AMTD), down 18 to 108, E*Trade Group (EGRP), down 10-9/16 to 82, and Amazon.com (AMZN), down 9 to 181.
Even Earthlink Network Inc. (ELNK) wasn't spared, falling 4-5/8 to 64-1/8 despite announcing a deal with Microwortz.com to offer a year of free access to their products on all Microwortz personal computers.