Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: American Xtal, RCM Technologies and Segue Software.
Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) has been quietly lobbying Congress about AOL's merger with Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), fearing that its programming would be denied fair access to AOL's Web sites, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The report said Disney executives have met with House and Senate staffers and have sent them an article critical of AOL's practices.
American Xtal figures to gain ground Thursday after it hurdled analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter, pocketing $1.6 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $21.8 million.
First Call consensus expected it to earn 6 cents a share in the quarter.
Ahead of the earnings report, the Fremont, Calif.-based company's stock shot up 4 5/16, or 15 percent, to 33 15/16.
The $21.8 million in sales marks a modest improvement from the year-ago quarter when it posted a profit of $1.8 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $20.6 million.
In addition, the maker of high-performance compound semiconductor base materials restated the first three quarters of its fiscal year after learning that some of the expenses related to its May acquisition of Lyte Optronics were underestimated.
For the year, American Xtal now says it earned $3.5 million, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $81.5 million, before taking into account acquisition costs of $2.8 million and the extraordinary loss of $500,000 associated with the acquisition of Lyte Optronics.
Analysts expect American Xtal to report a profit of 68 cents a share in fiscal 2000.
An antitrust settlement between the software giant and the government could be close to resolution; with the outcome of tough restrictions for Microsoft, the Wall Street Journal reported Thusday.
The talks could still collapse but the gulf between the sides is narrowing, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources close to the case.
The settlement push is now aimed at developing restrictions, not on a restructuring or breakup, the people said. The restrictions would prevent Microsoft from using its market power over personal-computer makers and software and Internet companies.
RCM shares will be on the slide Thursday after it warned that its first-quarter sales and earnings will fall significantly short of analysts' estimates. Its shares closed off 13/16 to 15 1/4 ahead of the announcement but dropped to 10 7/8 in after-hours trading.
RCM said it now expects earnings of between 15 cents to 18 cents a share in the quarter.
First Call consensus pegged the company for a profit of 30 cents a share.
Last quarter, it posted a profit of $4 million, or 37 cents a share, on sales of $83.6 million.
For the year, it earned $14.9 million, or $1.37 a share, on sales of $313.3 million.
Its shares hit a 52-week high of 19 1/8 in January after falling to a low of 10 1/16 in October.
Segue should see heavy action after it posted a wider-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter, losing $2.1 million, or 17 cents a share, on sales of $13 million.
First Call consensus expected Segue (Nasdaq: SEGU) to lose 15 cents a share this quarter.
Its shares closed up 1/16 to 14 3/4 ahead of the earnings report.
The $13 million in sales marks a 16 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $3.6 million, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $11.2 million.
For the year, it lost $15.9 million, or $1.53 a share, on sales of $40.8 million compared to a loss of $5.1 million, or 59 cents a share, on sales of $40.8 million in fiscal 1999.
First Call consensus expects Segue to earn 28 cents a share in the fiscal year.
Three of the five analysts tracking the stock rate it a "hold."
Its shares peaked at 26 1/4 in November after falling to a low of 4 in May.