Online broker

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

posted second-quarter earnings of 2 cents a share, well ahead of the 14-analyst estimate of a 4-cent loss, but down from the year-ago earnings of 5 cents. Ameritrade said net revenue totaled $170.3 million, compared with the year-ago $63.7 million, a jump of 167%.

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

reported stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings of $1.15 a share, slaughtering the 17-analyst estimate of 58 cents and the year-ago loss of 81 cents.

The company said that sales soared by 73% vs. the year-ago quarter due to demand for its Athlon and flash memory chips.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Canada's

Alcan Aluminium

(AL) - Get Report

, France's

Pechiney

(PY) - Get Report

and Switzerland's

Alusuisse Lonza Group

have abandoned plans for a three-way merger,

The Wall Street Journal

reported in its online edition. Separately, Algroup and Alcan said they will merge without Pechiney, according to the story.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

is close to a deal with the government to allow the oil giant to buy

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

, according to published reports.

Separately,

Standard & Poor's

announced that it will replace Atlantic Richfield with chipmaker

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

in its

S&P 500

index.

Knight Ridder

(KRI)

and the

New York Times Co.

(NYT) - Get Report

formed a purchasing consortium to identify the best suppliers to meet their goods and services requirements. The consortium will use its marketplace leverage to reduce costs.

Separately, the New York Times Co. reported first-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share, ahead of the 14-analyst estimate of 43 cents and up from the year-ago 34 cents.

Parker-Hannifin

(PH) - Get Report

, a maker of heavy construction equipment, said that

Salomon Smith Barney

and

Schroders

will evaluate strategic alternatives for

Commercial Intertech's

metal forming and astron building business.

Philips Electronics

(PHG) - Get Report

said it will invest $700 million in a joint venture with

STMicroelectronics

(STM) - Get Report

.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.

)

Bausch & Lomb

(BOL)

posted first-quarter earnings from continuing operations of 42 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 13-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 26 cents.

Capital One Financial

(COF) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of 51 cents a share, in line with the 22-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 39 cents.

FleetBoston Financial

(FBF)

posted first-quarter operating earnings of 87 cents a share, well ahead of the 24-analyst estimate of 80 cents and up from the year-ago 68 cents.

First Union

(FTU)

reported first-quarter operating earnings of 85 cents a share, in line with the 30-analyst estimate, but down from the year-ago operating earnings of $1.00.

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of 78 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 12-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 65 cents.

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $2.80 a share, well above the 15-analyst estimate of $2.66, and up from the year-ago $2.68.

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of 63 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 13-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 55 cents.

KLA-Tencor

(KLAC) - Get Report

reported net income of 38 cents a share, well ahead of the 21-analyst estimate of 33 cents and up from the year-ago 11 cents.

Marriott

(MAR) - Get Report

reported first-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, a penny better than the 14-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 38 cents.

Natural MicroSystems

(NMSS)

posted first-quarter earnings, excluding a gain, of a penny a share, better than the seven-analyst estimate of a loss of 10 cents a share, and above the loss of 36 cents in the year-ago period.

Rockwell International

(ROK) - Get Report

posted second-quarter earnings of 85 cents a share, a penny ahead of the 11-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 74 cents.

SLM Holdings

(SLM) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of 93 cents a share, well above the nine-analyst estimate of 79 cents and the year-ago 69 cents.

Unisys

(UIS) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of 34 cents a share, in line with the 11-analyst estimate, and up from the year ago 31 cents, after payment of preferred dividends.

Offerings and stock actions

Liberty Media Group

(LMG.A)

, the programming arm of

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

, said it planned a 2-for-1 split of its common stock.

Sina.com

, an Internet technology firm focused in China, will offer 4 million shares for

Nasdaq

listing at $17 each,

Reuters

reported, citing information from the

Securities and Exchange Commission

and Chinese media reports.

Miscellany

British Telecommunications

(BTY)

unveiled what it called a "radical" restructuring. The company is separating its fixed network business into wholesale and retail divisions, while its other assets in the U.K., Europe and elsewhere will be regrouped by market sector rather than geography. One of those market sectors includes Yell, formerly known as Yellow Pages, an international directories and e-commerce business, in which the company plans to sell stock by year-end.

Sotheby's

(BID) - Get Report

denied conspiring with rival auction house

Christie's

to fix commissions for buyers and asked a federal judge to dismiss civil suits filed both firms,

The New York Times

reported.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

takes a look at the Nasdaq Composite Index now that it is 25% off its March 10 high and thus firmly in bear-market territory. Unlike the prior downturn in mid-1998, which was sparked by the collapse of Russian financial markets, this bear market is "home grown," the story says, and may stick around for a while. Strategists quoted in the piece warn that there are danger signs in this downturn -- including weakness in tech leaders -- and say investors should brace for more pain ahead.

For analysis of the market's preopen tone and trends, see the Wake-Up Call, published separately.