Two large New York-based brokerage houses reported surprisingly strong quarterly earnings Wednesday from an abundance of corporate deal-making.

Shares of

Bear Stearns

( BSC) gained 1, or 2%, to 43 in morning trading after the firm reported that earnings nearly doubled. (It closed up 1, or 2.38%, at 43.) But shares of

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

( DLJ) were little changed, down just 1/8 to 49 5/8, after the firm reported that earnings nearly tripled. (It closed down 1, or 2.01%, at 48 3/4.)

For the second quarter ended Dec. 31, Bear Stearns earned $245.1 million, or $1.64 a share, on revenue of $1.4 billion, compared with $135.9 million, or 80 cents a share, on revenue of $1 billion. Analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had expected the brokerage to earn $1.20 a share. It was not clear whether the firm was reporting diluted earnings figures, and a spokeswoman did not immediately return calls.

Bear Stearns handled underwriting for

Charter Communications'

(CHTR) - Get Report

$3.2 billion initial public offering in November, and the firm is advising

Warner-Lambert

(WLA)

on the possibility of merging with another large company.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, DLJ earned $191.2 million, or $1.35 a diluted share, on revenue of $1.7 billion, compared with $68.7 million, or 47 cents a diluted share, on revenue of $1.3 billion. Analysts surveyed by First Call expected the brokerage to earn $1.11 a share.

For the 1999 fiscal year, DLJ reported net income of $600.7 million, or $4.18 a diluted share, on net revenue of $5.6 billion. Last year, earnings were $370.8 million, or $2.65 a diluted share, on net revenue of $4 billion. Analysts surveyed by First Call expected the brokerage to earn $3.94 a diluted share for the year.

Both firms coasted on strong equity markets and the trend toward widespread consolidation across industries, crediting the performances of their underwriting and merger and acquisition divisions for their robust earnings.

"There's enough business to go around; there's not a lot of landmines out there," said Richard Strauss, financial industry analyst for

Goldman Sachs

. Strauss rates DLJ a hold and does not cover Bear Stearns. Goldman co-managed the spinoff of

DLJDirect

( DIR), the online arm of DLJ, which Strauss also rates a hold.

"Where they're really going to have to prove themselves is winning these large M&A deals outside the U.S.," he added, referring to DLJ.

DLJ also announced revenues and accompanying losses for

DLJDirect

, but the tracking stock gained 7/16, or 3%, to 13 3/4 despite the losses. (DLJDirect closed up 1 5/8, or 12.21%, at 14 15/16.)

For the fourth quarter, DLJDirect lost $2 million, or 2 cents a diluted share, after earning $1.8 million, or 2 cents a share, in the comparable 1998 quarter. But net quarterly revenues grew to $76.3 million, from $35.4 million in the comparable quarter.

Like many Internet companies, the online arm says it is focused on spending exorbitantly on marketing to win loyal customers. By year's end, DLJDirect had 795,000 customers, of which 347,000 were active, according to the firm.

The effort may prove for naught, Strauss said. Companies like DLJDirect that deal only in online trading could lose out when the industry is consolidated by a few firms, he said, explaining his hold rating.