Roller coaster ride continues Stocks close mixed after wide swings, worries about profits

July 25, 1996|By BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks closed mixed yesterday after going through yet another volatile session, as apprehension about slowing profits overshadowed an optimistic forecast from the chairman of Compaq Computer Corp.

The Dow Jones industrial average, after an early plunge of more than 76 points, rebounded to a 32-point gain, only to close up 8.14 points. Shares of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. and General Motors Corp. led the average to 5,354.69.

The Nasdaq composite index, filled with smaller, more speculative companies as well as bellwethers such as chip-maker Intel Corp., fell 6.70 to 1,042.37, even as its top 100 stocks rose. The Nasdaq 100 index added 6.68, rising to 605.02.

Declining stocks outnumbered advancing stocks 3-1.

An index that predicts future volatility by tracking options on the Chicago Board Options Exchange rose to its highest level since January 1991, according to the exchange. High readings on the CBOE index have presaged market declines in the past, most recently in September 1994.

Ten series of computer-guided trading orders were triggered during the session, adding a total of 113 points to the Dow industrials at various times.

Limits on such trading were triggered twice when the average fell through the 50-point decline mark. It was the eighth straight day the NYSE imposed the limits on computer-guided trading.

Computer-industry stocks fell, rebounded and then retreated.

Compaq Computer Corp. rebounded from a $1.125 loss to rise to $48.625, up $3.25, after Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer said, "Our outlook calls for a strong second half" on top of better-than-expected earnings and improved margins this quarter.

Compaq said it earned 97 cents a share in the second quarter, 5 cents better than analysts expected and 7 cents above the personal computer maker's performance in the same period a year earlier.

Pfeiffer's optimism helped boost shares of some larger computer-industry issues. Microsoft Corp. emerged from slump to jump $2.625 to $114.75. Networker Cisco Systems Inc. added $2 to $49.125, and Sun Microsystems Inc., a hardware and software company, rose $1.375 to $50.125.

Semiconductor shares were mixed. Intel Corp., downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at Smith Barney, fell 50 cents to $69.125.

Atmel Corp. rose 62.5 cents to $24.625; and Texas Instruments Inc. climbed 37.5 cents to $42.125.

DuPont Co. rose $2.625 to $77.25. The company said earnings rose 7 percent to $1.78 a share, beating estimates.

Among broad indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 index turned a 10.44-point loss into a 1.63-point gain, then slumped to 626.65, down 0.22; the Russell 2,000 index of smaller shares fell most sharply, off 1.3 percent, or 3.94 points, to 307.78; the Wilshire 5,000 index, comprising stocks on the New York, American and Nasdaq exchanges, dropped 31.88 to 6,099.34; the American Stock Exchange market value index fell 7.96 to 529.00; and the S&P midcap index fell 1.58 to 214.34.

Electronic equipment maker Zytec Corp. fell $2.625 to $10.75, and information-provider Individual Inc. dropped $3.50 to $6.

Riding the wave from slump to rebound, Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s shares fell 50 cents after it beat second-quarter earnings forecasts by a penny, then recovered to $82.25, up 37.5 cents.

Shares of Infoseek Corp., which makes a searching tool for the Internet, fell 37.5 cents, then rose 87.5 to $7.75 after the company said its second-quarter loss was 52 cents a share, wider than the 14 cents expected by analysts.

Fritz Cos., a shipping service, skidded 55 percent after it reported a second-quarter loss and reduced its third-quarter earnings forecast because of unexpected costs related to its takeover of Intertrans Corp. last year. It fell $15.25 to $12.25 in trading of 14 million shares, making it the third most-active issue in U.S. markets.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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