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STOCKS TO WATCH: Dell, Akamai and PictureTel

    Aspen Technology, Akamai, Dell Computer and PictureTel should be among Thursday's most actively traded issues.

    Aspen Technology (Nasdaq: AZPN)

    After market close Wednesday, the business software vendor said it forecasts a fiscal third-quarter loss of 10 cents to 12 cents per share, on revenue of $75 million to $77 million. First Call consensus predicted a profit of 12 cents per share on revenue of $86.9 million for Aspen's third quarter ended March 31.

    Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL)

    The PC vendor maintained its forecast for its first fiscal quarter, which ends in about a month. Dell said in a statement ahead of an analyst meeting in New York on Thursday that its low operating costs and the way it does business, a reference in part to its direct sales model, continued to let it perform well despite the overall slowdown in the computer sector.

    The company reaffirmed quarterly targets of about $8 billion in revenue and 17 cents in per-share earnings, which is in line with Wall Street expectations.

    Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM)

    The company said it would likely post earnings between $39 million and $41 million for the quarter ending March 31, coming in under previous predictions of $45 million. But at the same time, the company said it would likely lose less money than it had expected, with pre-tax losses of $35 million to $38 million, instead of $45 million.

    Akamai company revised year-long guidance along the same lines, saying it would post substantially lower revenue than expected but would also lose less money. The company said its funding situation remained stable, however.

    PictureTel (Nasdaq: PCTL)

    The maker of video-conferencing systems sees first-quarter revenue falling short of analyst estimates. Revenue will be $49 million to $51 million, the company said. First Call consensus predicted revenue of $55.9 million.

    PictureTel sees an operating loss ranging between $8 million and $10 million.>