Tuesday, April 27, 1999

"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -- Jean Sibelius

Latest Market Numbers

Amazon Acquires Again

On the acquisition road again, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced it will buy three small Internet companies, including one specializing in hard-to-find books and music, for a total consideration of $645 million in stock. The increasingly diversified online retailer is acquiring privately held Exchange.com, which operates bibliofind.com and MusicFile.com. Amazon is also buying e-commerce firm Accept.com and Web navigation company Alexa Internet, both also closely held.

Exchange.com is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its Bibliofind.com website has more than 9 million hard-to-find book listings in its database, allows rare-book dealers to upload their inventories, and automatically matches want ads with newly available books. MusicFile.com offers more than 3 million items for sale by retailers, dealers, and private collectors around the world.

Redwood City, California-based Accept.com works on ways to simplify person-to-person and business-to-consumer transactions on the Internet. Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Alexa Internet operates an advertising-supported Web navigation service that provides information about websites being viewed and suggests related sites.

News to Go

AT&T (NYSE: T) rang up first-quarter profits before merger-related charges of $0.61 a share including the impact of its acquisition of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) and its recent 3-for-2 stock split. That compares with $0.46 in the same year-earlier quarter and analysts' mean estimate of $0.57. Revenues including TCI rose 9.9% to $14.096 billion from $12.821 billion. A replay of the company's conference call will be available starting today at 11 a.m. Eastern time until midnight on Thursday. To listen, U.S. callers can dial (800) 475-6701; those outside the U.S. can call (320) 365-3844. For both numbers, the access code is 436091. In addition, Internet rebroadcasts will be available on the AT&T website at http://www.att.com/ir/.

Online auctioneer eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) topped analysts' expectations by reporting first-quarter earnings of $0.05 a share, up from $0.01 a year ago. Analysts had predicted EPS of $0.02. Revenues gained 469% to $34 million from $6 million year-over-year on increased trading on the site, though eBay's gross profit margin fell to 85% from 89%. You can listen to a replay of eBay's earnings conference call yesterday at http://www.prnewswire.com/.

Toys "R" Us (NYSE: TOY) plans to create a new Internet sales unit with a substantial investment from venture-capital firm Benchmark Capital, which has backed such businesses as eBay, The Wall Street Journal reported. Toys "R" Us (toysrus.com), which recently lost its standing as the largest toy retailer to Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), is trying to catch up with privately held Internet-only retailer eToys. Toys "R" Us intends to invest $80 million in the new unit. Benchmark Capital reportedly has committed to pitching in more than $10 million.

Database software maker Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) said it is acquiring Tinoway Nederland BV for an undisclosed sum to add to its range of software linking laptop computers and mobile phones to corporate networks.

Earnings to Go:
(Quarterly earnings per share versus that of the same year-earlier quarter and compared with analysts' mean estimate according to First Call. Where noted, earnings exclude one-time charges and gains.)

Airborne Freight (NYSE: ABF) -- Q1 EPS: $0.51 vs. $0.63 last year; estimate: $0.57
Amerada Hess (NYSE: AHC) -- Q1 EPS: profit of $0.26 (excluding gains) vs. loss of $0.76 last year; estimate: loss of $0.34
Cheap Tickets (Nasdaq: CTIX) -- Q1 EPS: profit of $0.05 (before charges) vs. loss of $0.01 last year; estimate: breakeven
Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE: HIG) -- Q1 EPS: $0.95 vs. $0.84 last year; estimate: $0.91
Peco Energy (NYSE: PE) -- Q1 EPS: $0.70 vs. $0.50 last year; estimate: $0.59

More Foolishness

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... Is Wade Cook your ride to financial freedom? We respond with a resounding no.

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