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THE DAY AHEAD: Stocks to Watch

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday's most actively traded issues: Applied Materials, CMGi, National Semiconductor and Wallace Computer Services.

  • Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT)

    When Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) decides to move to larger wafers for its chips Applied Materials and other chip equipment makers can't help but smile.

    Yes, Intel will save costs by moving to larger wafer sizes, but it will also need more equipment. Applied Materials, the premier chip equipment vendor, gets a big boost, but other companies do to.

    On Wednesday, PRI Automation (Nasdaq: PRIA) soared on Intel's move. Look for chip equipment makers to be hot for awhile.

  • CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI)

    The Internet investment company should see some activity Thursday ahead of its third-quarter results.

    First Call consensus expects it to lost 13 cents a share, though CMGi has made a habit of posting a profit in quarters thanks to the sale of some of its Internet holdings.

    The stock closed up 15/16 to 105 1/4 Wednesday.

    In May, CMGi had to restate its fiscal sales. Although the earnings and EPS weren't impacted, the stock has struggled along with the rest of the Internet sector in the past few months.

    CMGi shares were trading at $165 post-split in April after trading at a low of 8 5/8 in October.

    Eight of the nine analysts following the stock rate it a "buy" or "strong buy."

  • National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: NSM)

    Not exactly a shining star in the investment universe, but National seems to be on the right track after announcing it would jettison its Cyrix unit and focus appliance chips.

    National will announce its fourth-quarter results after the close Thursday and analysts are expecting a loss of 24 cents a share.

    Last quarter, it lost $16 cents a share.

    National shares peaked at 22 3/4 in May after announcing the end of Cyrix. It was trading at 7 7/16 in October.

    National shares closed up 1 11/16 to 20 11/16 Wednesday.

  • Wallace Computer Services Inc. (NYSE: WCS)

    Wallace Computer Services met analysts' estimates in its third quarter Wednesday, earning $20.5 million, or 49 cents a share, on sales of $384.7 million. Its shares closed up 5/16 to 23 3/4.

    First Call consensus expected the maker of office-related hardware and software products to earn 49 cents a share in the quarter.

    In the year-ago quarter, it made $18.1 million, or 42 cents a share, on sales of $375.6 million.

    Company officials said it will report earnings of 43 cents to 48 cents a share in the fourth quarter and between $1.77 a share to $1.82 a share in the fiscal year, both well within most analysts' estimates.

    The stock surged to a high of 27 1/4 in January after falling to a low of 15 7/16 in September.

    Both analysts following the stock rate it a "strong buy."