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STOCKS TO WATCH: Applied Materials, BEA Systems, Dell and Lycos

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Applied Materials, BEA Systems, Dell and Lycos.

  • Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT)

    There's not a whole lot more one could ask or expect from Applied Material's terrific third-quarter earnings.

    The world's largest chip-equipment maker topped analysts' estimates by 8 cents a share Tuesday, raking in $244 million, or 61 cents a share, on sales of $1.43 billion, a 62 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter.

    Its shares closed up 1 1/4 to 71 3/4 ahead of the earnings report but fell in after-market trading.

    In the quarter, gross profit margins jumped to 48.7 percent, up from 46.3 percent in the second quarter. It also ended the quarter with a backlog of $1.34 billion in orders.

  • BEA Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BEAS)

    The software developer also topped analysts' estimates in its latest quarter, earning $8.8 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $103.2 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to earn 6 cents a share in the quarter.

    The $103.2 million in sales represents a 53 percent gain compared to the year-ago quarter when it pocketed $5.4 million, or 4 cents a share.

    BEA Systems closed off 1 3/4 to 24 1/2 Tuesday.

  • Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL)

    And the good news just keeps on coming.

    The PC giant gave all the worrywarts more food for thought Tuesday when it beat Street estimates in its second quarter.

    Dell earned $507 million, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $6.14 billion.

    First Call consensus expected it to earn 17 cents a share on sales somewhere just south of $6 billion.

    Many analysts on Wall Street were expecting sales growth of about 35 percent, impressive, but not Dell-like. Dell's revenue growth for the quarter was 42 percent. Dell saw "exceptionally strong" growth in the consumer and small-business markets.

    In the same quarter a year ago, Dell reported earnings of $346 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $4.3 billion. Sequentially, Dell's sales gained 10.9 percent.

    Company executives expect to at least maintain the company's traditional second half growth. A Dell survey of 900 customers indicated that Y2K-related caution among large corporate users would be offset by sales growth from government agencies, small business and consumers.

    "Our outlook for the rest of this year and all of next remains very healthy as Y2K concerns appear to be diminishing," Dell CFO Tom Meredith said, during an afternoon conference call with analysts. "We see no reason for our historical pattern to deviate."

    Dell shares closed off 5/16 to 41 1/8 ahead of the results.

  • Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS)

    Last but not least, Lycos checked in from the Internet sector with better-than-expected sales and earnings in its fourth quarter.

    Lycos reported its first operating profit in a year and a half, pocketing $600,000, or 1 cent a share, on sales of $45.1 million.

    First Call consensus was break even for the portal. Analysts were expecting sales of roughly $38 million.

    Including a host of one-time items, Lycos lost $21.4 million, or 24 cents a share.

    For the quarter ending July 31, revenue was up 29 percent from the third quarter and 137 percent from a year ago. Advertising represented the bulk of Lycos' sales at $31.64 million. "E-commerce, license and other" revenue was $13.45 million.

    Lycos closed up 1 7/8 to 42 5/16 Tuesday.

    Related Links:
    Applied Materials blows past 3Q forecasts
    Dell delivers 2Q growth, predicts continued strength
    Lycos posts 4Q profit as sales surge