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Mixed open as pre-announcements begin

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Traders are looking at a flat open for the second consecutive session as S&P futures (sp03h) currently edge 0.30 points higher at 910.20, while NASDAQ futures gain 4 points to 1,040 and Dow (dj02h) futures slump 29 points at 8,575.

The bulk of this morning's news is quarter earnings pre- announcement driven with Hotels.com (ROOM) $59.04 checking in with a 18% decline to $48.00 after the company revised its Q4 revenue outlook to a range of $270-$271 million, which is down from the $283-$289 million previous guidance. The company also lowered its bottom line guidance saying projections for adjusted EBITDA will be between $40-$42 million, and adjusted net income between $22.2-$23 million, which is below previous guidance for $27-$28 million. The company said lowered guidance is due to an unexpected falloff in average daily rates for bookings made after October 23, which were recorded in the fourth quarter.

The news out of Hotels.com is also finding selling in USA Interactive (NASDAQ:USAI) $24.22, which is trading down $2.00, or 8.2% at $22.22. The company which owns a majority stake in ROOM says that despite the warning by ROOM, its expects 2002 results will be generally in line with the key bottom-line metrics announced October 24, which has analyst's looking for EPS of $0.11.

Hotel.com's warning is also having a negative impact on Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) $70.90, which is bid lower at $63.71, representing a 10.14% decline from Friday's close. USAI also owns a majority stake in EXPE.

Shares of biotech concern Human Genome Sciences (NASDAQ:HGSI) $9.06 is bid higher by 45 cents at $9.51 after the company affirmed Q4 guidance "to be in line with analyst estimates" and expects to end the year with cash and short-term investments totaling approximately $1.5 billion. According to a poll of analysts by Multex, analysts are looking for the company to lose $0.41 per share in its recently ended fourth quarter.

In a morning call, J.P. Morgan (NYSE:JPM) is upgrading U.S. equities in their global portfolio to "overweight" from "neutral," saying that the U.S. economy appears to have achieved a soft landing while unwinding past imbalances in the equity markets, labor markets and corporate balance sheets.

Today's economic data calendar is light with the ISM Services data due out at 10:00 AM EST. Economists are looking for a December reading of 55.5%, which would be slightly below November's 57.4% reading.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $0.16. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $0.23 and set for program selling at $-2.04. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $2.82.

Jeff Bailey

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