Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

said it would acquire

Etec Systems

(ETEC)

in a stock swap worth $1.77 billion based on the companies' value at the close of trading Wednesday.

In an announcement after the markets closed, the Santa Clara, Calif., supplier of semiconductor parts and services said it would exchange 0.649 of a share for each Etec share.

Etec makes laser systems that produce masks used to print circuit patterns onto semiconductor wafers. The company is based in Hayward, Calif.

After the announcement, shares of Applied Materials fell 2 1/16 to 125, while shares of Etec gained more than 25 to 75 1/2, according to

Instinet

. Etec lately was trading at 76 on

Island

, with Applied Materials last traded at 124.

--

Michael Brick

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

said it signed a definitive merger agreement with

National Bancorp of Alaska

(NBAK)

, Alaska's largest bank, for a stock deal worth about $907 million. Under the deal, National Bancorp of Alaska shareholders will receive $30 a share worth of Wells Fargo stock. The companies announced their intent to merge three weeks ago.

In other postclose news (

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

):

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Carnival

(CCL) - Get Report

said its first-quarter earnings would slip by 1 cent to 2 cents a share after a fire aboard the cruise ship Celebration that kept the vessel adrift for several hours but left passengers unhurt. The current 17-analyst estimate calls for earnings of 31 cents.

LTC Properties

(LTC) - Get Report

said it sees fourth-quarter funds from operations at about 34 cents a share, below the five-analyst estimate of 42 cents a share. LTC said it sees first-quarter FFO between 41 cents and 43 cents, in line with the five-analyst estimate, also for 42 cents.

Network Equipment Technologies

(NWK)

posted a third-quarter loss of 31 cents, wider than the two-analyst estimate of an 18-cent loss and wider than the year-ago loss of 4 cents.

Rational Software

(RATL)

reported third-quarter earnings of 27 cents a share, beating the 10-analyst estimate of 24 cents and the year-ago 20 cents.

SilverStream Software

(SSSW)

said it expects a fourth-quarter loss of 34 cents to 37 cents a share before one-time charges. The five-analyst estimate is for a loss of 35 cents.

Walter Industries

(WLT)

posted second-quarter earnings of 22 cents, in line with the four-analyst estimate, but lower than the year-ago earnings of 25 cents excluding items.

Miscellany

American Home Products

(AHP)

said CFO Robert Blount will retire next month for personal reasons, unrelated to the company's planned merger with fellow New Jersey drugmaker

Warner-Lambert

(WLA)

. Blount will be succeeded by Kenneth Martin, currently senior vice president and CFO of the company's

Wyeth-Ayerst

pharmaceuticals unit.

barnesandnoble.com

(BNBN)

said CEO Jonathan Bulkeley has resigned to focus on his personal investments. The company, which is 40% owned by

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

, said it would name a new CEO shortly. Steve Riggio, Barnes & Noble's vice chairman, will replace Bulkeley as both vice chairman and acting CEO for the online site, effective immediately. Bulkeley decided to leave the company to take charge of his investment in

QXL

, a European Internet auction business.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom covered the departure in a

story tonight.