Monday, April 26, 1999

"I will tell you the secret of getting rich on Wall Street... You try to be greedy when others are fearful, and you try to be very fearful when others are greedy." -- Warren Buffett

Latest Market Numbers

First Union to Buy EVEREN

Highly acquisitive Charlotte-based bank holding company First Union (NYSE: FTU) said it will acquire Chicago-based full-service brokerage and asset-management firm EVEREN Capital (NYSE: EVR) in a stock swap valued at $1.1 billion, or $30.63 a share, based on Friday's close. EVEREN shareholders will receive 0.555 of a First Union share for each EVEREN share. In addition, First Union has agreed to create an employee-retention pool of about $87 million in restricted shares of First Union common stock.

The combined company will have $147 billion in brokerage assets and 3 million brokerage customer accounts, making it the nation's sixth-largest brokerage. Services will be provided through a total of 2,710 retail offices in 41 states. EVEREN's presence in such states as Illinois, California, Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, and Colorado will strengthen First Union's focus on the eastern half of the country. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

News to Go

Contrary to Compaq Computer's (NYSE: CPQ) claims of an industrywide slowdown, first-quarter worldwide PC shipments grew a stronger-than-expected 19% year-over-year, according to market research firm International Data Corp. Another research firm, Dataquest, which uses a different methodology, saw growth of 17%. Compaq's worldwide shipments increased 10%, but its market share fell to 13.4% from 14.3%. Meanwhile, shipments at rival Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) rose 49%, with its market share growing to 9.2% from 7.2%. IBM (NYSE: IBM) added 31% in shipments, increasing market share to 8.4% from 7.5%. Gateway's (NYSE: GTW) business grew 38%, bringing its market share to 4.3% from 3.7%.

Staying busy, AT&T (NYSE: T) and British Telecommunications (NYSE: BTY) announced they will each acquire a 15% interest in Japan Telecom, one of Japan's largest telecom companies, for a total of a 30% stake at a price of $1.83 billion. The investment will be made and managed through a jointly owned holding company.

Cable TV operator Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSK) is working on a counter-offer to AT&T's (NYSE: T) unsolicited bid to acquire MediaOne Group (NYSE: UMG), which now stands at $85 a share, based on AT&T's close Friday and the conditions of the offer. Comcast's original all-stock deal to acquire MediaOne was worth $74.59 a share as of Friday's close, substantially lower than its initial value of $80.16 a share.

Fiber-optic network builder Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GBLX) announced it will acquire Global Marine, the undersea cable service business of Cable & Wireless PLC (NYSE: CWP), for 550 million pounds, or roughly $885 million, in cash and assumed debt. Global Marine is the world's largest undersea cable installation and maintenance company, servicing more than 35% of the world's undersea cable miles. Its clients include AT&T, NTT, Deutsche Telekom, MCI WorldCom, British Telecom, Telefonica, and Singapore Telecom.

Network server maker Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) is reportedly set to unveil software today that allows computer users to remotely access corporate networks using just an Internet browser. The new product, called i-Planet, is designed to provide secure access to corporate e-mail, personal files, and other data using any Internet connection, from home or on the road.

Chemical giant Union Carbide (NYSE: UK) gave a cautious outlook for the second quarter, adding that licensing income will be weaker than in the first quarter. The company reported first-quarter earnings of $0.52 a share (before the effect of an accounting change), compared with $1.01 in the same year-earlier quarter and analysts' mean estimate of $0.45.

Broadband communications integrated circuits maker Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) said it will acquire privately held Epigram Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company that makes advanced semiconductor products for high-speed home networking, in a stock swap valued at about $316 million, based on Friday's close.

Circuit board maker Jabil Circuit (NYSE: JBL) will replace U.S. Filter (NYSE: USF) in the Standard & Poor's MidCap 400 Index after the close of trading today. U.S. Filter is being acquired by French conglomerate Vivendi SA.

More Foolishness

See what you might've missed last week in our Notes From a Fool... Is Wade Cook your ride to financial freedom? We respond with a resounding no... Don't miss our StockTalk interview with CDnow President and CEO Jason Olim to see what he has to say about the CDnow-N2K merger.

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Yi-Hsin Chang (TMF Puck), Writer
Jennifer Silber (TMF Amused), Editor