THE WEEK AHEAD: Earnings, IPOs and Fed watching

3 min read

It's still unclear exactly what direction the stock market's going to take next week after this week's mix of both good and bad news. Looking ahead to next week, there are some significant earnings reports due out and another batch of Internet IPOs.

For the week the Dow Jones industrial average shot up 366 points to close at 10,855.56 while the Nasdaq composite gained 115 points to 2,563.40. Most of those gains were realized Wednesday after the Consumer Price Index for May came in at 0.7 percent, virtually unchanged from April.

Since the CPI is viewed as a critical bellwether of inflation, the news was met with a strong rally Wednesday. The news essentially guarantees the Fed will only raise short-term interest rates by one-quarter of a percent later this month.

"Things are looking better," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment strategist at First Albany Corp. "The consensus is the Fed will move federal funds up a quarter of one percent when it meets later this month."

Johnson added that he thought the market had already adjusted for the inevitable interest-rate hike.

There was more good news from database software developer Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL). It easily beat Street estimates in its fourth quarter, sending the stock soaring for most of the week.

Oracle also indicated that Y2K spending hadn't dented its sales as much as most pundits thought and that it sees strong growth through 2000.

Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) also brought some smiles to its investors' faces when it shattered analysts' estimates by 5 cents a share in its second quarter. Naturally, Adobe shares went nuts.

Unfortunately, the tech sector got a double dose of bad news this week from two of its most important companies.

It just keeps getting worse for Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ). The personal computer manufacturer again warned that it would badly miss analysts' estimates in its second quarter and take some hefty restructuring charges in its third quarter.

Company officials used the old scapegoat of pricing pressures for the shortfall, but analysts openly questioned Compaq's management team and were highly critical of their lack of guidance for the second quarter and beyond.

Compaq now expects to lose about 15 cents a share in the quarter. First Call consensus expected it to earn 20 cents a share in the quarter.

Oddly, Compaq shares weren't that badly damaged. But then again, the stock has been in a perpetual funk between $20 to $30 a share for months.

Also, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) was tagged with a downgrade by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Friday, sending the stock down more than 5 percent. Analyst Mark Edelstone cut his earnings estimates on the chipmaker.

This week, investors will again turn their attention to some earnings reports, most notably from 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS), a network-equipment maker that seems to have lost its way, and Cyberian Outpost Inc. (Nasdaq: COOL), an Internet company that's still trying to find its way.

First Call consensus expects 3Com to earn 23 cents a share in its fourth quarter.

Cyberian Outpost is expected to lose 40 cents a share in its first quarter, a development befitting a fledgling Internet company.

Speaking of fledgling Internet companies, there will more of these puppies hitting the Street this week in the latest rash of initial public offerings.

There are literally a dozen IPOs scheduled for next week including Ariba Inc. (Proposed ticker: ARBA), Cybersource Inc. (Proposed ticker: CYBS) and internet.com Inc. (Proposed ticker: INTM).

Also expect much discussion and consternation regarding the Fed's policy meeting scheduled at the end of the month.