Ma Bell Gets Left At The Altar

It’s come to this: AT&T , Ma Bell, the venerable “widows and orphans” stock, was rejected as a takeover candidate by one of its own Baby Bells.

Merger talks between BellSouth and AT&T have apparently fallen apart because the asking price for AT&T was too high.

With a declining long-distance business and competition everywhere it looks, we have long speculated that AT&T would be acquired by one of its own offspring. But to be rejected by one of its own? A sad chapter in the history of one of America’s greatest companies.

Hopefully it won’t be the last. AT&T is swimming in red ink and loaded with debt, but it also has $8 billion in cash. With any luck, Ma Bell can nurse that money until she gets back on her feet.

Stocks rose Wednesday ahead of Thursday morning’s GDP report, which is expected to show that the economy grew at a strong 6% rate in the third quarter.

The Nasdaq climbed 4 to 1936, the S&P 500 added 1 to 1048, and the Dow rose 26 to 9774. Volume declined to 1.51 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.98 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 20-11 on the NYSE, and 19-11 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 65% on the NYSE, and 62% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 380-7 on the NYSE, and 386-9 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, EDS , Newport and Photon Dynamics missed. InfoSpace , NetScreen , Akamai , ESS Tech and F5 beat estimates. Overstock missed earnings but beat on revenues.

During the day, NetEase plunged 23% after missing estimates.

LookSmart soared 30% on its results, and OmniVision surged 22% on its earnings report.

NetIQ , MicroStrategy , Maxim and Genesis Microchip rose on their results, while Monster Worldwide and RealNetworks fell on theirs.

On their first day of trading, investors expressed a clear preference for PalmSource over PalmOne .

Sonic Solutions rose 8% on a deal with Microsoft .

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