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Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: Interplay, Liberate and Micron Technology

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Interplay, Liberate Technologies and Micron Technology.

  • Interplay Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: IPLY)

    Interplay might take a beating Wednesday after the game software developer missed analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter.

    Interplay posted a loss of $7.8 million, or 29 cents a share, on sales of $27.3 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to lose only 8 cents a share in the quarter.

    For the full year, Interplay lost $40 million, or $1.78 per share, on revenue of $101.9 million.

    Failure to release two titles, Messiah and Giants, as planned for 1999 hurt operating results, the company said. Delays in the Torment game, which wasn't released until late December, also affected the bottom line.

    About 67 percent of Interplay's fourth quarter revenue was PC-related, followed by 17.8 percent among consoles and 15.2 percent from OEM contracts, royalties and licensing. Interplay in the fourth quarter released a dozen titles, including 11 for PCs.

    Its shares closed up 5/16 to 3 7/8 ahead of the earnings report.

  • Liberate Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: LBRT)

    The Internet software developer figures to gain ground Wednesday after it posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its third quarter.

    In the quarter, it lost $12.1 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $7.5 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to lose 18 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares closed off 3 1/8 to 70 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $7.5 million in sales marks a 68 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it lost $6.1 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $4.5 million.

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

    First Call consensus expects it to lose 63 cents a share in the fiscal year.

  • Micron Technology Inc. (NYSE: MU)

    Micron appears to be in for a bit of a correction Wednesday after it missed analysts' estimates by a mile in its second quarter, earning $161 million, or 58 cents a share, on sales of $1.4 billion. Average selling prices fell 20 percent in the quarter and the fat profit margins it enjoyed last quarter dried up.

    First Call consensus expected the chipmaker to earn 74 cents a share in the quarter.

    Ahead of the earnings report, its shares fell4 1/8 to 131 1/2. In after-hours trading, the stock was at 127 and sliding.

    After enjoying profit margins of 51 percent last quarter, Micron had to settle for 37 percent this time around.

    Average selling prices fell 20 percent from the first quarter when it earned $341 million, or $1.19 a share, on sales of $1.6 billion.

    Company officials said gross profit margins for semiconductor operations checked in at 41 percent, down from 58 percent in the first quarter.

    In the year-ago quarter, Micron made $22.4 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $1 billion.

    Those huge profit margins that resulted in the upside surprise last quarter were nowhere to be found this time around.

    Total chip sales slipped 14 percent from the first quarter to $1.2 billion. Unit shipments of PC systems fell 17 percent from the first quarter as a result of a 19 percent decline in desktop unit shipments to government customers.