STOCKS TO WATCH: Books-A-Million, Ciena,I2, Novell, Portal Software and Quantum

4 min read

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Books-A-Million, Ciena, I2, LookSmart, Novell, Portal Software and Quantum.

  • Books-A-Million Inc. (Nasdaq: BAMM)

    Books-A-Million topped analysts' estimates in its second quarter Thursday, earning $19,000 on sales of $90 million. First Call consensus expected the bookseller to post a loss of 3 cents a share.

    Its shares closed off 5/16 to 10 1/16 ahead of the earnings report.

    In the year-ago quarter, Books-A-Million lost $514,000, or 3 cents a share.

    Company officials said comparable-store sales improved 5.4 percent in the quarter at its 178 retail stores.

    The company recently announced a strategic alliance with Wal-Mart, making Books-A-Million the exclusive provider and distributor of books and related products to the discount giant's online customers.

    After exploding up to an all-time high of 47 in November, Books-A-Million shares have faltered. The stock was trading at a 52-week low of 2 3/4 in October.

    All three analysts following the stock maintain a "buy" recommendation on the stock.

    First Call consensus expects it to earn 27 cents a share in the fiscal year.

  • Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN)

    Ciena fell short of Street estimates in its third quarter Thursday, earning $1.5 million, or a penny a share, on sales of $128.8 million.

    First Call consensus pegged it for a profit of 2 cents a share in the quarter.

    Ciena shares closed off 9/16 to 33 15/16 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $128.8 million in sales was slightly lower than the year-ago period when it earned $500,000 on sales of $129.1 million.

    However, the third-quarter sales were a 16 percent jump compared to the second quarter when it earned $1.6 million, or a penny a share, on sales of $111.5 million.

  • I2 Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq:ITWO)

    The developer of logistics software said it plans to join with Hewlett-Packard Co., International Business Machines Corp. and Johnson & Johnson in Internet business ventures. The nature of the ventures have yet to be disclosed, but will mark a departure for the company which has specialized in software for manufacturing.

    I2 fell 9/16 to 32 15/16 at close Thursday.

  • LookSmart (Proposed ticker: LOOK)

    LookSmart will make its debut Friday, offering 7.7 million shares priced at $12 a share, in the middle of its $11 to $13 a share price range.

    LookSmart originally planned to offer 12 million shares, but later reduced the offering to 9 million shares. By Thursday evening, the underwriters decided to offer only 7.7 million shares.

    Looksmart provides category-based Internet directories with what it claims to be the largest collection of "granular," or highly specific, content. Its LookSmart directory contains over 750,000 URLs in over 60,000 categories.

    Lead underwriter for the IPO is Goldman Sachs, co-managers are Robertson Stephens and Hambrecht & Quist.

    The company's revenue was $6.6 million for the three months ended March 31, 1999, compared to $804,000 the year earlier. Net loss for the quarter was $6.7 million, compared to $1.7 million in the previous year's quarter.

  • Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL)

    Novell topped analysts' estimates by a penny a share in its third quarter Thursday, earning $49 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $327 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to earn 13 cents a share in the quarter.

    The $327 million in sales represents a 20 percent improvement versus the year-ago period when it pocketed $27 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $272 million.

    In the quarter, Novell's NetWare software accounted for $175 million of the total revenue, up 25 percent from the year-ago quarter. Directory-enabled applications products grew 34 percent to $75 million and training and consulting sales improved 43 percent to $49 million.

    Sales into Europe, the Middle East and Africa shot up 39 percent to $100 million, led by strong demand from Germany, France and the U.K. Asia-Pacific sales improved 27 percent to $24 million and U.S. sales grew 13 percent to $183 million.

    Novell ended the quarter with $992 million in cash and short-term investments.

    First Call consensus expects Novell to earn 50 cents a share in the fiscal year.

  • Portal Software Inc. (Nasdaq: PRSF)

    The maker of software for billing and registering Internet users said its second-quarter loss, including a gain, was 1 cent a share. The company was expected to lose 14 cents a share by First Call. Revenue rose to $20.8 million from $4.3 million.

    Portal Software rose 5/32 to 44 5/8 at Thursday's close.

  • Quantum Corp. (Nasdaq: QNTM)

    Quantum's hard disk drive group said Thursday it will cut as many as 800 jobs and take a $50 million charge in its second quarter in an effort to streamline its production of drives for low-cost PCs.

    Company officials said it was making the moves to align its technology and business more closely to the rapidly growing market for personal computers costing less than $700.

    Quantum said it will take the charge in the current fiscal second quarter ending Sept. 26.

    Quantum shares fell 9/16 to 20 1/8 ahead of the announcement. The tracking stock of Quantum's hard disk drive group (NYSE: HDD) rose 3/8 cents to 8 5/8.

    Quantum executives blamed "destructive pricing pressures" by other disk drive makers to gain market share.

    John Gannon, president of the hard disk drive group, told analysts on a conference call that "no one is making any money in the disk drive business today."

    Last quarter, Quantum missed analysts' estimates by 5 cents a share, earning $8.3 million, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $1.1 billion.

    Quantum said its high-end disk drive business will be "largely unaffected" by Thursday's announcement.

    Twelve of the 17 analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.