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Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: CDNow, EarthWeb, Liquid Audio, Pixar and Viant

    Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: CDNow, EarthWeb, Liquid Audio, Pixar and Viant.

  • CDNow Inc. (Nasdaq: CDNW)

    CDNow figures to slide Friday after it missed analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter, losing $25.7 million, or 85 cents a share, on sales of $53.1 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to lose only 80 cents a share in the quarter.

    The $53.1 million in sales marks a 154 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $12.9 million, or 73 cents a share, on sales of $20.9 million.

    For the year, it lost $119.2 million, or $4.32 a share, on sales of $147.2 million compared to a loss of $43.9 million, or $2.79 a share, on sales of $56.4 million in fiscal 1998.

    While CDNow's sales did jump 154 percent from the year-ago period, it still fell 47 percent shy of the total music sales Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) recorded in this quarter. Amazon.com did $78 million in music sales, up 136 percent from the year-ago period.

    In the quarter, CDNow's advertising sales rose to $3.4 million, up from $2.6 million in the third quarter.

    CDNow averaged 821,000 daily page views in December, up 178 percent from the year-ago period. Repeat customers accounted for 60 percent of its total sales, compared to 56 percent a year ago.

  • EarthWeb Inc. (Nasdaq: EWBX)

    EarthWeb posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter, losing $5.7 million, or 58 cents a share, on sales of $11.5 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to lose $1.03 a share in the quarter.

    The $11.5 million in sales represents a whopping 701 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $3.8 million, or 54 cents a share, on sales of $1.4 million.

    For the year, EarthWeb lost $22.6 million, or $2.46 a share, on sales of $31.1 million compared to a loss of $9 million, or $1.51 a share, on sales of $3.3 million in fiscal 1998.

    Its shares peaked at 89 in April before falling to a low of 25 3/8 in June.

  • Liquid Audio (Nasdaq: LQID)

    Liquid Audio might make a move Friday after it posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter, dropping $7 million, or 36 cents a share, on sales of $2.3 million.

    First Call consensus expected the maker of Internet music software to lose 44 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares closed off 1 1/2 to 30 3/4 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $2.3 million in sales includes a $1 million cash payment it received from its Liquid Audio Japan deal. In the year-ago quarter, it lost $2.2 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $1.1 million.

    Analysts were looking for sales of roughly $2 million in the quarter.

    In the quarter, Liquid Audio's distribution network was used by more than 6,000 artists and 1,000 record labels to promote and sell online, up 36 percent from the end of the third quarter.

  • Pixar (Nasdaq: PIXR)

    Apparently everything Steve Jobs touches these days turns to gold.

    Pixar rolled past analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter Thursday, raking in $9.6 million, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $24.9 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to earn 14 cents a share in the quarter.

    In the year-ago quarter, Pixar earned $1.1 million, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $3.1 million.

    For the year, it pulled in $49.2 million, or 99 cents a share, on sales of $121 million compared to a profit of $7.8 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $14.3 million.

  • Viant Corp. (Nasdaq: VIAN)

    This stock could be a screamer Friday after it shattered analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter, pocketing $3.7 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $23.7 million.

    Analysts were expecting a profit of 3 cents a share in the quarter.

    Viant shares closed up 1 7/8 to 100 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $23.7 million in sales marks a 286 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it lost $3.2 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $6.1 million.

    Gross profit margins improved to 58 percent in the quarter, up from 55 percent in the third quarter and 40 percent in the year-ago quarter.

    Viant surprised analysts in its third quarter, earning $1.6 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $18.8 million.

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