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Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: AT&T, Great Plains Software, Oracle, Seagate and Verity

    Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues:AT&T, Great Plains Software, Oracle, Seagate and Verity.

  • AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T)

    The U.S. long- distance telephone company has frozen hiring and will reduce its workforce in an effort to meet 1999 earnings targets and cost- cutting goals, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a spokeswoman and people close to the situation.Shares added 1/4 to 44 3/4 at Tuesday's close.

    Great Plains Software Inc. (Nasdaq: GPSI)

    Shares jumped 2.8 euros to 53 after the business-management software company said first-quarter earnings rose to 22 cents a share, beating a 20-cent average estimate of seven analysts polled by First Call Corp.Revenue for the period ended Aug. 31 rose 47 percent.

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

    The database software giant did meet analysts' earnings estimates in its first quarter, but the total revenue and, particularly, the licensing revenue was disappointing.

    For the quarter, it made $237 million, or 16 cents a share on sales of $2 billion, up from the $195 million, or 13 cents a share, it earned in the year-ago quarter.

    The results disappointed the market, which had generally expected the company to beat estimates. Oracle's stock price was down 4 7/16 to 41 in extremely heavy after hours volume of more than 1.1 million shares.

    Software license and other revenue increased 9 percent from the first quarter of fiscal 1999. Applications software sales increased 11 percent year-over-year, to $109 million. Database sales increased 8 percent to $443 million. Total services revenue increased 16 percent from a year earlier, to $1.35 billion.

    "Specifically we expect that Oracle's software sales will grow faster this year than last," said Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO. "And margins should continue to improve as well."

    Oracle shares closed off 5/16 to 45 7/16.

  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: SEG)

    The disk-drive maker said Tuesday it will layoff 10 percent of its workforce in the next nine months and take a $200 million charge in its first quarter.

    Company officials said the cuts are aimed at creating the "factory of the future" which includes a smaller and much more technically skilled workforce.

    The headcount reduction will manifest in the form of voluntary separation packages, natural attrition and flat-out layoffs.

    The move comes on the heels of a disappointing fourth-quarter earnings report. Seagate missed analysts' expectations by 4 cents a share, earning $69 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $1.64 billion.

    The earnings shortfall was even more pronounced because it issued a profit warning earlier in the quarter. Analysts reduced their profit estimates from 49 cents a share to 34 cents a share.

    Lower dick-drive prices and sluggish demand were blamed for the letdown.

    From an investor perspective, Seagate's been on a roller coaster ride for most of this year. Its shares peaked at 44 1/4 in January after falling to a low of 19 13/16 in October.

    The stock closed down 1 1/16 to 31 15/16 ahead of Tuesday's announcement.

  • Verity Inc. (Nasdaq: VRTY)

    Verity shattered analysts' estimates in its first quarter Tuesday, raking in $5.1 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $19.8 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to earn 16 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares closed up 1/4 to 57 1/4 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $19.8 million in sales represents a 50 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it pocketed $1.2 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $13.2 million.

    Anytime a company doubles the Street estimate and report a 315 percent jump in net income year-over-year, it's obviously doing something right.

    "The first quarter of fiscal 2000 was our sixth straight quarter of record revenues and net income," said CEO Gary Sbona in a prepared release. "We continue to see strong interest in Verity's products and services across our core Internet, intranet and OEM lines of business."

    Software product sales surged up 46 percent from the year-ago period to $14.5 million, or roughly 73 percent of the company's total sales.

    Last quarter, Verity dazzled Wall Street, earning $5 million, or 34 cents a share, on sales of $19.3 million.

    On Monday, Josephthal & Lyon upgraded it from a "buy" recommendation to its "focus list" recommendation.

    The stock's performance has been incredible in the past year, surging from a low of 5 1/8 in October to a high of 57 7/8 earlier this month.

    All seven analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

    First Call consensus expects it to make 94 cents a share in the fiscal year.