Friday, January 15, 1999

"A crisis that recurs must not recur again." -- Peter Drucker

Latest Market Numbers

1999's Initial IPO

Kicking off the 1999 IPO market, financial news website operator MarketWatch.com (Nasdaq: MKTW) goes public today after the company raised around $46.75 million by selling 2.75 million shares at an initial offering price of $17 a piece. Due to strong demand for the issue, lead underwriter BT Alex. Brown increased the IPO price twice from the original range of $10 to $12 per share -- first to $14 to $16 on Wednesday and then to $16 to $17 just hours before the IPO was priced yesterday.

MarketWatch.com is a joint venture between CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) and Data Broadcasting Corp. (Nasdaq: DBCC), with CBS providing much of the marketing efforts -- $30 million in advertising on the TV network -- and Data Broadcasting contributing the technological infrastructure. As an indication of the amount of interest in MarketWatch.com, shares of Data Broadcasting have jumped more than 4 1/2 times to a closing high of $38 7/16 Monday from $8 1/2 in mid-December. Similarly, CBS shares have risen some 30% in that same period.

On Monday, MarketWatch.com signed a deal with public Internet access provider get2net, under which get2net's NetStations in airports and travel plazas throughout the U.S. will feature links to CBS.MarketWatch.com as well as placard ads directing travelers to the website. Strangely as of 8:45 a.m. this morning, neither CBS MarketWatch's Front Page nor its IPO Daily Report (last updated at 4:48 p.m. ET Thursday) made any mention of the company's own IPO.

News to Go

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) expects to take a fourth quarter pre-tax charge of $950 million ($630 million after taxes) to account for early retirements ($730 million), the sale of its stake in Kia Motors Corp. ($110 million), and a new joint venture ($110 million). That's almost double the $500 million forecasted by analysts and almost four times the minimum of $250 million projected by the company last week. The charge for retirements is nearly twice as much as had been anticipated because more employees than expected accepted the offer.

Internet infrastructure software developer Inktomi Corp. (Nasdaq: INKT) reported a fiscal first quarter loss of $0.24 a share, compared with a loss of $0.25 last year and analysts' mean estimate of a loss of $0.29. Revenues increased 343% to $10.7 million from $2.4 million a year ago.

Discount clothing retailer Stein Mart Inc. (Nasdaq: SMRT) warned that it expects fourth quarter and full year 1998 earnings will be about 10% to 12% lower than the low end of the current range of analysts' estimates. Forecasts now range between $0.40 and $0.48, according to IBES. The company blamed the shortfall on unseasonably warm weather through mid-December followed by "paralyzing" winter storms during the week of Christmas.

More Earnings Announcements:

Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB) -- Q4 EPS: $0.55 vs. $0.45 last year; estimate: $0.54
Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) -- fiscal Q1 EPS: $0.86 vs. $0.70 last year; estimate: $0.83
Microchip Technology (Nasdaq: MCHP) -- fiscal Q3 EPS: $0.34 vs. $0.30 last year; estimate: $0.35
Pinnacle Systems (Nasdaq: PCLE) -- fiscal Q2 EPS: $0.44 vs. $0.26 last year; estimate: $0.41
Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) -- fiscal Q3 EPS: $0.42 (before charges) vs. $0.37 last year; estimate: $0.41

More Foolishness

The numbers are in! The Motley Fool's second annual charity drive tops all estimates. Read the final update... Don't miss "A Case Study" -- an in-depth look at the man behind America Online, Chairman and CEO Steve Case... Check out the latest Daily Double: Adaptec and this week's StockTalk interview with Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts.

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