Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Excite@Home, Intel, Omtool, SBC Communications, Qwest, and Western Wireless.
Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM)
In the midst of ambitious expansion plans and intense interest from consumers, Excite@Home says it continues to face daunting technical issues in maintaining the quality of its high-speed, cable-based Internet access service.
In the latest development, chronic service problems for Excite@Home users in six communities in the Silicon Valley area have led AT&T, Excite@Home's largest shareholder, to offer credit and several months of free service to more than 1,000 users.
The snafu comes as many users complained about the expansion of an Excite@Home policy that limits upload speeds.
Intel, the leading maker of computer chips, said on Friday that its $780 million merger with Dialogic Corp. (Nasdaq: DLGC) had received regulatory clearance.
The companies said that the waiting period for federal antitrust review of Intel's proposed acquisition expired on Thursday, July 1. No additional regulatory clearances are needed.
Fax software developer Omtool said Thursday it will lose between 9 cents to 12 cents a share in its second quarter on sales of between $6.3 million to $6.7 million.
That's not good.
First Call consensus pegged the Salem, N.H. company for a profit of 3 cents a share in the quarter.
Omtool shares closed off 3/16 to 3 1/8 Thursday.
No reasons were disclosed by the company for its earnings shortfall.
Omtool shares hit a 52-week high of 7 7/8 last July before falling to a low of 1 ? in October.
Two of the four analysts following the stock rate it a "hold" while the other two call it a "buy."
Local phone company U S West Inc. on Thursday followed Frontier Corp. in agreeing to open merger talks with Qwest Communications International Inc. while still maintaining its existing $28 billion merger agreement with Global Crossing Ltd.
Global Crossing granted U S West (NYSE: USW) a waiver allowing the Baby Bell to hold discussions talks with Qwest without having to declare Qwest's $35.6 billion unsolicited bid a "superior offer." Qwest is also talking to Frontier (NYSE: FRO).
This could easily apply to Ameritech Corp. (NYSE: AIT) too. The two companies offered a 100-page proposal to federal regulators on Thursday detailing their concessions to promote telephone competition and win support for their $61 billion merger.
The Federal Communications Commission issued the proposal for comments through July 13, with replies to those comments due July 20.
That should allow the five members of the commission to vote on the megamerger of the neighboring regional Bell companies sometime next month. State regulators in Illinois and Indiana are also still weighing the transaction.
San Antonio, Texas-based SBC and Chicago-based Ameritech plan to merge and create the largest U.S. local telephone company with over $40 billion in revenues and controlling access lines reaching into more than one-third of households.
The proposed concessions followed two months of serious discussions between the companies and FCC staff, which had become convinced that absent some concessions the merger should be blocked.
Under the proposal, first announced on Tuesday, the FCC could levy fines totaling more than $2 billion if the companies failed to offer competitors good service in their 13-state region or reneged on a promise to begin competing with other regional Bells in 30 cities outside of their own turf.
SBC shares closed off 1 7/8 to 56 1/8 and Ameritech lost 1 5/8 to 71 7/8.
Western Wireless shares closed up 2 9/16, or 9 percent, to 29 9/16 Thursday on rumors that AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) might be on the verge of buying the wireless telephone company.
Western Wireless has been seen as a prime target since the Bellevue, Wash.-based company made plans to spin off its VoiceStream Wireless Corp. (Nasdaq: VSTR) operations, analysts said.
AT&T has said they want to expand their wireless network and would be willing to make additional acquisitions. AT&T declined to comment on the recent rumors.
Western Wireless ``fits perfectly. It fits into AT&T's strategy to have a nationwide footprint. AT&T wants all of its wireless traffic on its own network. It would be done for the same motivation as the Vanguard deal," ABN AMRO analyst Kevin Roe told Reuters.
Reuters contributed to this report.