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Tech Industry

MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs still stuck in red

Techs were slumping along in the red again at midday Monday, as upgrades and earnings failed to reverse last week's downward spiral. The Nasdaq fell 67.94 to 2,663.89, and the Dow Jones industrial average recovered 28.18 to 10,047.89.

The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index sank 3 to 321.08.

Inflation fears continued to haunt techs while the Dow turned around to stage a mild rally. Stocks were cautious ahead of Tuesday's report on consumer price inflation.

Cognizant Technology (Nasdaq: CTSH) rose 5 5/8 to 33, or 20 percent Monday after SG Cowen initiated overage of the stock ahead of its earnings report, slated for Tuesday.

Other companies falling despite bullish coverage initiations include Ashford.com (Nasdaq: ASFD), which slipped 1/2 to 11 7/8. Ashford.com was started with a "buy" rating at Banc Boston Robertson Stephens, and a "strong buy" rating and $21 dollar price target at Deutsche Banc Alex Brown. Epiphany (Nasdaq: EPNY) also fell 14 percent, or 10 1/2 to 63 despite a "strong buy" rating from CS First Boston. The upgrades were handed out by those companies' respective underwriters.

Sprint (NYSE: PCS) rose 1 1/4 to 71 1/4 after it was upped to "buy" from "long-term buy" at JP Morgan.

Stocks downgraded include Youbet.com (Nasdaq: UBET), down 1 9/16 to 3 7/16, or 33 percent, after Banc Boston Robertson Stephens dropped the stock to "long-term attractive" from "buy."

HearMe Inc. (Nasdaq: HEAR) made some noise about a deal with Yahoo! Monday, and investors boosted shares 2 1/16 to 13 7/8, or 21 percent. Anticipation of the company's third quarter results may have also contributed to the rise. Talk was up 17/32 to 13 3/8, or 4 percent after it was started with a "strong buy" rating and $55 price target at Sands Brothers.

Webvan has to be quiet, but rival Peapod is talking. Peapod, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPOD), holding even at 10, said Monday it was rolling out a national on-line grocery service to be called "Peapod Packages."

Online bookstore Fatbrain.com Inc. (Nasdaq: FATB), up 3/8 to 20 5/8, said Vulcan Ventures Inc., the investment company of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, had agreed to invest an additional $20 million in the company.

Nets in general continued last week's downward trend. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) sank 1 15/16 to 73 1/8. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) slipped 1/4 to 169 5/16, and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) lost 7/16 to 108 9/16.

Lexmark International Group, Inc. (NYSE: LXK) sank 23 percent, or 21 to 72 after it posted third quarter results that beat First Call's prediction by 2 cents a share, but warned that revenue and earnings for the fourth-quarter would be at the low-end of analysts' expectations.

Xerox Corp. fell 4 1/16 to 23 3/8 after it reported a drop in third quarter net income due to intense competition, poor business in Brazil and a reorganization of its U.S. customer-service division.

After setting off a storm of consumer complaints earlier this week, Apple Computer Inc. tried to make amends Friday by reversing a retroactive price increase for a small number of customers who had pre-ordered its top-of-the-line G4 PowerMacs. Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) fell 2 15/16 to 71 5/8, Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) shed 1 3/8 to 51 1/16, and Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) dropped 1 11/16 to 41 1/8.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) was down 7/8 to 66 5/16 and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) slumped 2 3/4 to 56 1/4.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) lost 1 5/8 to 43 3/8. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) dropped 1 3/4 to 86 5/16 and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) shed 1 5/16 to 69 9/16.