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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: Advanced Fibre, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit, Mastech and National Semi

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Advanced Fibre Communications, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit, Mastech and National Semi.

  • Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: AFCI)

    The communications-equipment maker shook things up a bit Thursday, naming Karen Godfrey as its new chief financial officer.

    Godfrey, who had served as the company's corporate controller, replaces Peter Darbee who left to pursue other opportunities.

    It also named Jorge Valdes as its new vice president of engineering.

    Its shares closed up 7/16 to 16 3/8 Thursday.

    The stock hit a 52-week high of 17 3/4 in August after slipping to a low of 4 in October.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP)

    H-P late Thursday announced three new strategic alliances during day one of its E-Services World conference, a two-day affair that has drawn nearly 700 people. Two of the deals, with StarMedia Network Inc. (Nasdaq: STRM) and USA.Net, involved HP swapping hardware, software and services for either a slice of revenue, equity in the company or both. The other, with eOnline, was a more traditionally structured deal.

    Since it started its e-services effort, HP has signed 30 deals, roughly one-third of them involving equity or revenue swaps. HP officials said it's been very happy with these deals and expects to continue doing them.

    H-P shares closed up 4 1/8 to 113 15/16.

  • Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU)

    Intuit said late Thursday that it will split 3-for-1 at the end of the month.

    On Thursday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based financial software vendor announced plans for the stock division, to take effect after market close Sept. 30 for shareholders of record Sept. 20. Intuit had about 62.5 million shares outstanding at the end of July. The company also said it would move its annual stockholder meeting, usually held in January, to November 30.

    The split would be Intuit's second since going public. Intuit stock split 2-for-1 in 1995.

    "Intuit recently ended its fiscal year 1999 with solid financial performance and a strong balance sheet," said Bill Harris, president and CEO. "We believe that our electronic finance initiatives, combined with sustained leadership in our traditional desktop software business, provide the foundation for delivering long-term value for our stockholders."

    The company recently reported better-than-expected fourth quarter results.

    Intuit shares closed up 5 1/16 to 97 1/16 ahead of the announcement.

  • Mastech Corp. (Nasdaq: MAST)

    The IT services provider warned it would post lower-than-expected third quarter profits Thursday.

    The company now expects to earn between 18 and 22 cents per share in the quarter, excluding non-recurring charges. First Call's survey of 13 analysts had predicted a profit of 26 cents per share.

    A contract with a large systems integrator is coming to a close, Mastech said. The company also sees "general softness" in the IT services market.

    Revenue will range between $116 million and $120 million. Mastech expects to take a charge of 5 cents per share related to cover costs related to end of the aforementioned contract. A similar charge is expected in the fourth quarter.

    Adams Harkness Hill immediately downgraded Mastech to "accumulate" from "strong buy" following the company's announcement.

  • National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: NSM)

    The chipmaker shocked Wall Street Thursday when it reported an unexpected profit in its first quarter. Its shares closed up 1/8 to 32 ahead of the earnings report.

    Excluding a $48.4 million one-time gain from the sale of Fairchild Semiconductor stock, the chipmaker posted a pre-tax profit of $1.2 million on sales of $481.8 million.

    First Call consensus predicted it would post a loss of 14 cents a share in the quarter.

    On a per-share basis, National essentially broke even in the quarter.

    After meeting First Call estimates in its fourth quarter, company officials said it expected to return to profitability by the second quarter.

    Apparently, National Semi is a bit ahead of schedule.

    In the year-ago quarter, it lost $104.8 million, or 63 cents a share, on sales of $470 million.

    Including the profits made from the Fairchild stock sale, National raked in $47.1 million, or 25 cents a share.

    "Overall market conditions for our industry continued to improve, and we experienced stronger than expected bookings through the summer quarter," said CEO Brian Halla in a prepared release. "In addition, we completed our exit from the PC processor business with the sale of that portion of the Cyrix business last week."