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Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: Akamai, Exodus, VeriSign and Veritas

    Expect the following technology stocks to be among Thursday’s most actively traded issues: Akamai, Exodus, VeriSign and Veritas.

  • Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM)

    Akamai will be active after it posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter and raised its sales guidance for fiscal 2001.

    In the quarter, it lost 61 cents a share on sales of $37.2 million.

    Analysts were expecting a loss of 68 cents a share.

    After the bell, Chairman George Conrades said he expected Akamai to generate more than $240 million in revenue in 2001, compared with about $90 million in revenue last year.

    He also said the company’s cash-earning losses in 2001 should drop to as low as $140 million, down from previous guidance for the year of as much as $170 million. Akamai also plans to cut capital spending to $100 million to $120 million, down from previous guidance of as much as $170 million.

    The stock closed up $3.25 to $35.38 ahead of the earnings report.

  • Exodus Communications (Nasdaq: EXDS)

    The Internet hosting services provider pulled the old good-news, bad-news deal Wednesday, posting a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter but warning that it will miss analysts’ estimates in its first quarter.

    Exodus said it lost $65.2 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $280.4 million, up 177 percent from the $101.4 million it recorded in the year-ago quarter.

    Analysts were expecting a loss of 16 cents a share.

    However, company executives said a slowdown in business from Internet companies and plan to “briefly delay, the opening of new GlobalCenter Internet data centers will result in lower-than-expected sales and a wider loss in the first quarter.

    The company now expects to lose between 26 cents and 27 cents a share in the quarter, well above the current First Call Corp. consensus estimate of 17 cents a share. Sales will come in between $365 million and $380 million.

    Its shares closed up $2.19 to $28.19 ahead of the earnings report.

  • VeriSign (Nasdaq: VRSN)

    VeriSign should be interesting to track Thursday after it easily topped analysts’ estimates in its fourth quarter and bumped up its guidance for 2001.

    However, the initial reaction from Wall Street wasn’t exactly euphoric as the stock fell to $77.56 after closing up $7 to $81.50 in the regular session.

    VeriSign pocketed $45.5 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $197.4 million in the quarter, beating the Street estimate by 10 cents a share.

    Last quarter, it made $38.4 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $173.1 million.

    During its conference call, VeriSign raised its fiscal 2001 sales estimate to between $975 million and $1 billion, up from $960 million to $985 million.

    It also raised earnings per share for the first quarter of 2001 to 13 cents to 14 cents a share and for fiscal 2001 to between 56 cents and 60 cents a share.

  • Veritas (Nasdaq: VRTS)

    Veritas will be on the move Thursday after it handily topped the Street view in its fourth quarter and boosted its 2001 projections.

    Its shares closed off 94 cents to $104.06 ahead of the earnings report before moving up to $104.44 in after-hours trading.

    In the quarter, it made $83.9 million, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $370.1 million.

    Analysts were forecasting a profit of 17 cents a share.

    The $370.1 million in sales represents a 64 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $50.7 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $226.2 million.

    For the fiscal year, it earned $263 million, or 60 cents a share, on sales of $1.2 billion, up 72 percent from fiscal 1999 when it raked in $70.3 million, or 16 cents a share, on sales of $317.2 million.

    During a conference call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Ken Lonchar said the company sees no slowdown heading into fiscal 2001.

    Lonchar told analysts to expect first-quarter earnings of at least 20 cents a share, up from the current estimate of 18 cents.

    Sales for fiscal 2001 are expected to be $50 million to $100 million above the current estimate of $1.72 billion and earnings will come in around 89 cents a share, up from the First Call Corp. consensus estimate of 84 cents a share.

    “No matter how you slice it, our business was strong across all categories this quarter,” said Chief Executive Officer Ray Bloom.