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End of year bargain shopping

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Merger and acquisition news has some corporations and private investors doing some end of year bargain shopping as beaten down names find some upside and portends there is some perceived value still to be found in the equity markets.

Soft drink giant and Dow component Coca Cola (NYSE:KO) $44.26 +0.4% said it would buy the remaining 75% of shares it didn't already own of Latin America's largest bottler Panamerican Beverages (NYSE:PB) $20.66 +104% for roughly $22.87 per share, sending the producer and bottler of Coca-Cola products to the top of today's biggest gainer list on both the NYSE and NASDAQ and to a new 52-week high.

Today's number two gainer in the market has shares of Inktomi (NASDAQ:INKT) $1.59 +36% jumping after inking a deal to be acquired by Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) $17.48 +2.34%. Yahoo! said it would acquire the Internet search-software maker for roughly $235 million in cash, in a move to boost its Web search capabilities. Yahoo! said the $235 million is based on an offering price of $1.65 per share. Last month, Inktomi sold its enterprise search software business for $25 million in a move it said would allow it to concentrate on the Web search business. For fiscal 2002, ended in September, Inktomi posted revenue of $112.7 million and a net loss of $41.5, or $0.29 per share.

In other merger news, publicly traded Coors Tek (NASDAQ:CRTK) $25.49 +9.87% said it has agreed to be acquired by a group of private investors lead by Keystone Holdings and Keystone Acquisition Corporation for $26.00 per share, or $358 million , including the assumption of debt. On November 12th, Coors Tek received a $21 buy-out bid from the Coors family for all of the outstanding shares not already owned by the family. Today's bid from Keystone Holdings and Keystone Acquisition have Coors Tek (CRTK) saying it would still be free to solicit other acquisition proposals through January 10th, 2003.

Broader market action has seen stocks build some gains as the Dow Industrials (INDU) 8,541 +0.35% reverses an early morning decline to trade higher by 30-points. After a modestly lower open, the NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X) 1,033 +1.95% sports a new face lift after this weekends addition of 15 new stocks as it looks to smooth out some of its past wrinkles by adding some non-tech names.

As if to try and get back in favor with the NASDAQ-100, shares of JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ:JDSU) $2.54 +8.54% lead the NASDAQ-100 gains. How this name dodged being taken out of the NASDAQ-100 I'm not sure.

Traders are expecting some thin volumes this week as the markets will have a half-day session tomorrow and close at 01:00 PM EST. Markets will then be closed on Wednesday in observance of Christmas, and then open back up for trading Thursday morning for a full day of trading. Friday is also a normally scheduled day of trading.

Jeff Bailey

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