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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: Dell, Internet Capital, iVillage, Project Software and Sterling Software

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Dell, Internet Capital Group, iVillage, Project Software and Sterling Software.

  • Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL)

    Dell will be on the move Friday after it met analysts' estimates in its third quarter, earning $483 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $6.78 billion.

    Its shares closed up 2 to 43 7/16 ahead of the earnings report and moved slightly higher in after-hours trading.

    First Call consensus expected the PC maker to earn 18 cents a share in the quarter, although most analysts originally expected a profit of 20 cents a share before it issued a profit warning earlier in the quarter.

    The 6.78 billion in sales represents a 41 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it pocketed $384 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $4.8 billion.

    Company officials credited strong international demand as well as booming online sales for the strong revenue growth.

    Although rising memory prices did dent margins this quarter, Dell surprisingly was able to reduce its quarterly operating expenses to 10.6 percent of revenue from 11.4 percent in the year-ago quarter.

    Sales at its www.dell.com site surged to $35 million a day in the quarter, or roughly 43 percent of its total revenue.

  • Internet Capital Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ICGE)

    ICG posted a third-quarter loss of $15.2 million, or 13 cents a share, on sales of $7.2 million in its first quarter as a publicly traded company.

    Its shares closed up 4 1/16 to 178 1/16 ahead of the earnings report.

    There was no First Call consensus available for Internet Capital this quarter.

    The $7.2 million in sales marks a sevenfold improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it lost $4.1 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $897,000.

    In the quarter, ICG spent $29 million on acquisitions and follow-on financing and increased its base of partner companies from 22 to 39.

    Internet Capital shares soared up to an all-time high of 195 9/167 earlier this month after opening at $14 in its August initial public offering.

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

  • iVillage Inc. (Nasdaq: IVIL)

    iVillage shares figure to rise Friday after Wit Capital Research analyst Jordan Rohan initiated coverage of the women's Web site with an "outperform" recommendation late Thursday.

    "Despite recent operating performance that has been encouraging by all measures, iVillage shares have recently traded to a historical low of $23," Rohan said in a research note. "While it is difficult to determine accurately the source of recent pressure, we underscore that there has been no evidence of a deterioration of the company's fundamentals. Moreover, we believe that the fundamentals support a share price of $31-$35 within the next 12-18 months, representing upside of at least 29 percent from current levels."

    iVillage shares closed off 1 1/8 to 22 7/8 Thursday.

    Its shares peaked at 130 in April.

  • Project Software & Development Inc. (Nasdaq: PSDI)

    The company, whose products help companies manage work orders and purchasing, will replace DSP Communications Inc. (DSP) in the Standard & Poor's SmallCap 600 Index after trading ends Wednesday, Nov. 17. Project Software fell 1/2 to 52 at Thursday's close.

  • Sterling Software (NYSE: SSW)

    The business software developer will be active Friday after it met Wall Street's lowered estimates in the fourth quarter.

    Sterling Software posted a profit of $41.3 million, or 47 cents per share, excluding one-time costs. In September, Sterling told analysts to expect that figure, compared to the previous consensus estimate of 52 cents per share, because of expenses related to acquisitions and a restructuring of Sterling's application management division.

    Excluding one-time charges and acquisition-related writedowns, Sterling earned $47.1 million, or 54 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30. The company had predicted a per-share profit of 53 cents on that basis.

    Fourth quarter revenue rose to $230.4 million, a 20 percent increase from $192.7 million a year ago, when Sterling earned $39.9 million, or 46 cents per share. Systems management revenue led the way with a 70 percent increase year-over-year, to $105.5 million from $62.2 million.

    Sterling shares fell 9/16 to 23 5/8 Thursday.