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STOCKS TO WATCH: AT&T, American Xtal, Dell, National Semiconductor and Superior TeleCom

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: AT&T, American Xtal, Dell, National Semiconductor and Superior TeleCom.

  • AT&T Corp (NYSE: T)

    The Federal Communications Commission is considering restrictions on cable-television ownership that could complicate AT&T Corp.'s agreement to buy cable concern MediaOne Group Inc.(NYSE: UMX).

    The Commission would leave unchanged an existing cap that bars any cable company from owning systems that together could reach more than 30% of cable households, according to a report in Thursday's Wall Street Journal. In what could be a boost to AT&T, the proposal would increase the number of cable households to include satellite and wireless TV subscribers. But on the downside for AT&T, the proposal would expand the types of ownership stakes counted toward the 30% cap.

  • American Xtal Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: AXTI)

    The maker of semiconductor materials said it will stop some wafer shipments to Hughes Electronics Corp.'s Spectrolab division, at Spectrolab's request, for about two months because of low demand in the satellite market. The company predicts it will lose about $1 million in revenue a month. American Xtal rose 1/16 to 28 at Wednesday's close.

  • Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL)

    The PC maker said late Wednesday that it will buy network storage company ConvergeNet Technologies Inc. for $340 million.

    Company officials said it will take a one-time charge of between 5 cents to 7 cents a share this quarter to cover the acquisition.

    Dell said the purchase of ConvergeNet, a maker of networked data storage systems used by office computer users to manage the explosion of Internet data, is part of its bid to become one of the top three suppliers of data storage in the world.

    Terms call for Dell to exchange about 6.9 million shares of its common stock for all outstanding shares and options of ConvergeNet. The deal is expected to close within 60 days. Boards of both companies have approved the merger.

    ConvergeNet of San Jose, Calif. focuses on data-storage technologies for so-called storage area networks, an emerging category of storage that pipes data to specialized storage systems attached to departmental computer networks.

    Dell shares closed off 1 3/4 to 47 5/8 ahead of the announcement.

  • National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: NSM)

    Analysts are very high on National Semi these days, going so far as to predict its first-quarter results to be the last in the red for some time.

    On Thursday, the chipmaker will announce its first-quarter results with First Call consensus predicting a loss of 13 cents a share.

    National posted a loss of 24 cents a share in its fourth quarter. Company officials are expecting total sales to improve 2 percent to 4 percent year-over-year.

    Its shares ended up 1 1/4 to 31 7/8 Wednesday.

  • Superior TeleCom Inc. (NYSE: SUT)

    Superior Telecom figures to slip Thursday after warning that it would fall woefully short of analysts' sales and earnings expectations in its third quarter.

    Company officials said the maker of copper wire and cable used for telecommunications networks, will post a profit of only 52 cents to 58 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares closed off 3/4 to 25 3/4 ahead of the profit warning.

    First Call consensus pegged it for a profit of 88 cents a share in the quarter.

    In the year-ago quarter, it returned a profit of 59 cents a share.

    The company said the lowered projections were based upon lower-than-planned shipments of communications exchange cable to telephone company customers and reduced building wire margins during July 1999.

    It also said it will make between $2.35 a share to $2.51 a share, 10 to 19 percent higher than last year, but lower than the 3.00 to $3.07 a share analysts expected.

    Superior Telecom said that improved pricing during the past six weeks and $10 million in savings it anticipates from the previously announced closing of three Midwest electrical wire manufacturing plants should improve operating margins and profits from this business segment in the latter stages of 1999 and into 2000.

    The stock peaked at 40 11/16 last September before falling to a low of 16 in March.

    All three analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

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