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Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: About.com, Autoweb.com and Liberate Technologies

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Tuesday's most actively traded issues: About.com, Autoweb.com and Liberate Technologies.

  • About.com Inc. (Nasdaq: BOUT)

    About.com will see heavy action Tuesday after announcing plans to buy Sombasa Media, a privately held online marketing firm, for more than $35 million in stock.

    Its shares closed up 1/16 to 88 7/16 ahead of the announcement.

    The company said Sombasa shareholders will receive 400,000 unregistered shares. It will also absorb Sombasa's option plan.

    About.com, best known for its portal of human guides, has recently made a push into the business-to-business e-commerce market.

    Last quarter, it posted a loss of $8.3 million, or 57 cents a share, on sales of $13 million.

    "This acquisition provides us with a leading engine for matching highly granular content and commerce with the highly specific needs of our customers," said CEO Scott Kurnit in a prepared release. "This deal is another great example of the leverage we're unlocking within our platform."

    All seven analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

  • Autoweb.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AWEB)

    The online car dealer will be on the rise Tuesday after telling Wall Street stronger-than-expected sales and lower operating costs will result in an upside surprise in its first quarter.

    After the bell Monday, Autoweb.com said its expects to report sales of between $14 million to $15 million in the quarter, roughly 5 to 10 percent above most analysts' estimates.

    Ahead of the announcement, Autoweb.com shares closed up 1 5/8, or 25 percent, to 8 3/16.

    Company officials also said its first-quarter loss will be smaller than expected, mainly because the company was able to reduce staffing costs.

    First Call consensus expects Autoweb.com to lose 44 cents a share in the quarter.

    Company officials said it now expects to post a first-quarter loss of around $9 million, roughly the same as it reported last quarter.

    Separately, it announced a long-term strategic alliance with CarsDirect.com. The partnership includes a co-branded direct buying service on the Autoweb.com site, exclusive links to Autoweb.com from the CarsDirect.com site, and licensing of data, content and tools.

    Four of the five analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

  • Liberate Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: LBRT)

    Liberate could slip a bit Tuesday after announcing it will acquire MoreCom Inc., a privately held provider of interactive television, for $561 million in stock it plans to issue.

    San Carlos, Calif.-based Liberate, which makes software for Internet-surfing set-top boxes and video game consoles, said the deal strengthens its access to satellite, digital terrestrial and cable markets and adds two network operators to its European and international customer base.

    The all-stock transaction will be accounted for using purchase accounting and is expected to close in the second calendar quarter of 2000.

    "By combining the strength of MoreCom's talent and technologies with Liberate's leading interactive TV platform, we can achieve the same dominant position in satellite and digital terrestrial that we now hold in the cable marketplace," said CEO Mitchell Kertzman in a prepared release.

    Liberate shares closed off 5 to 77 ahead of the announcement.

  • Terayon Communication Systems (Nasdaq: TERN)

    The maker of Web access equipment was up to 220 1/2 in after hours trading from a close of 216 5/8 Monday after it agreed to buy closely held Ultracom Communications Holdings Ltd. for about $32 million. The purchase will give it Ultracom's chip technology.