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by 1/8/2001 8:29 AM
Stocks quoted in this article:
DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX – 43.96), which of late has posted notable quarterly losses ($512 million in the third quarter and a projected more than $1 billion for the fourth quarter), announced that it will build about 26 percent fewer cars during the first quarter of 2001 than it did in 2000. Officials cited a decreased demand in the automobile market, as well as a softening U.S. economy.

In unrelated news, DCX unveiled the Jeep Liberty this weekend at the North American International Auto Show. The Liberty is a smaller-sized, or "baby" sports utility vehicle created to compete with brands such as the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. The Jeep, which will be constructed in a multi-million dollar plant in Michigan, will be available for purchase with the 2002 model available in June. The cost will likely run in the $18,000-$23,000 range.

Technically speaking, the stock has been steeped in a downtrend since early January 1999. Over the past two years, the stock has lost nearly 60 percent of its value. For the past year, DCX has found resistance overhead at its descending 20-week moving average. <

by 1/5/2001 5:37 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
Contrary to its name, Edison International (EIX – 10-5/16) is a utility company that serves customers in Southern California. A subsidiary of the firm owns power plants in New Zealand, Australia, and Europe. During the short duration of 2001, the stock has dropped 34 percent. Yesterday, the stock receded over 12 percent after the California Public Utility Commission said it would call for rate increases in the neighborhood of seven to 15 percent within the next three months. This hike was seen as falling far short of what is needed to bring EIX and competitor PG&E (PCG – 12-5/8) back into healthy territory.

Reacting to this news, Merrill Lynch and Jeffries both reduced their respective ratings on EIX shares. Today, Deutsche Banc stepped up to the downgrade plate, cutting EIX to a "market perform" from a "buy." Also this morning, EIX was downgraded by Moody's.

Mid-afternoon today, EIX officials warned of an impending announcement wherein the firm would announce cost-cutting measures. After the close, the company said it would cut its work force by 1,400 jobs, saving $30 million-$50 million in the process. The layoff, which will affect just over 10 percent of EIX's staff, will primarily affect non-permanent workers.

Today's news generated a slew of activity in the EIX options pit. Over 5,600 contracts traded on the January 15 call, which was previously home to only 252 open call options. The bulk of this transpired in small and mid-sized blocks that crossed the tape throughout the trading session. One large block consisting of 2,800 contracts was executed near the ask price around 11:30 a.m.

by 1/5/2001 4:20 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
eToys (ETYS – 5/32), the online toy retailer with the heartwarming commercials and the seemingly strong business plan, has crumbled 99.8 percent from its all-time high reached in October 1999. The shares have been trading below the one-dollar mark for over two weeks and are presently trading at a small fraction.

Today, the firm was in the news again as it announced plans to lay off 700 employees, close business at two warehouses, shut down its U.K. website, and gradually abandon its European operations. Firm officials also noted that the company will require "additional and substantial" capital to keep the e-tailer afloat throughout 2000. The Street did not seem too surprised by this barrage of disconcerting news, as the stock was unchanged in Friday's trading. <

by 1/5/2001 4:10 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
Tricon Global Restaurants (YUM – 32-3/4) is the parent of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. This morning, the firm said that December same-store sales dropped six percent compared to 1999, with Taco Bell absorbing the most dramatic loss, falling 11 percent off last year's figures. YUM officials looked toward the near and distant future, saying first-quarter same-store sales numbers will dip two-to-three percent, but total same-store sales numbers for 2001 should eke out a two-percent gain.

Responding to this news, Lehman Brothers Holdings lowered its fourth-quarter earnings estimate for YUM by a penny to 82 cents per share. YUM declined more than three percent today on volume that was slightly above average. <

by 1/5/2001 2:11 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
Calpine (CPN - 36) shares are making up for lost ground today. The stock took a 15.58 percent drubbing yesterday on credit concerns over California utilities.

The power generation concern came out painting a positive earnings picture. The company expects to report 30 cents per share for its fourth quarter while the current Street expectations are for 24 cents per share. Additionally, CPN raised its year 2000 view to $1.05 per share and its year 2001 view to about $1.25 per share.

The stock is up over 10 percent in today's market. Volume on the January 35 put has exceeded 1,800 contracts on current open interest of 1,666 contracts. The culprits were a 1,000-block and a 550-block. Both were listed as "late" trades, disguising their possible intent. We will have to wait for tomorrow's translations to see if these were new bearish bets or liquidations of current positions. <

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