Good Earnings Aren't Good Enough for Dell

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In Japan's first day of trading after the demise of

Yamaichi Securities

, its fourth-largest brokerage house, the

Nikkei 225

opened down 0.7% and quickly lost more than 4%. The Nikkei's move below the key 16,000 level could be a harbinger of more downdrafts in Tuesday's U.S. action, as could the strange fate of our first post-close newsmaker (earnings estimates from

First Call

):

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of 69 cents per share, 4 cents better than the 34-analyst consensus estimate, up from the year-ago 39 cents and 2 cents ahead of the most widely accepted Wall Street "whisper number." Yet the shares of the PC giant reportedly dropped as low as 78 after hours from its close of 79 3/4, later rising to 78 1/2. Television reports mentioned competing whisper numbers as high as 70 cents to 73 cents, and those higher figures seem to have the upper hand in the post-close sentiment battle.

Netscape

(NSCP)

agreed to acquire privately held

Kiva Software

for about $180 million in stock. Kiva makes large-enterprise Internet software.

Maxim Group

(MXG)

reported third-quarter earnings of 31 cents per share, 3 cents better than the seven-analyst expectation and up from the year-ago 21 cents.

Teltrend

(TLTN)

reported first-quarter operating earnings of 23 cents per share, 2 cents ahead of the five-analyst outlook but down from the year-ago 48 cents.

Synovus Financial

(SNV) - Get Report

will replace

Salomon

(SB) - Get Report

in the

S&P 500

after

Travelers

(TRV) - Get Report

on Tuesday completes its acquisition of Salomon.

PETsMART

(PETM)

reported break-even third-quarter earnings, in line with the eight-analyst view but down from the year-ago profit of 9 cents per share.

Times Mirror

(TMC)

said it has retained

Goldman Sachs

to explore strategic alternatives for its

Matthew Bender & Co.

legal publishing unit and its

Mosby

medical publishing unit. Options include a sale, spinoff or asset swap.

L.A. Gear

(LA)

said it expects to default on certain debentures, lacking the resources to make an interest payment due Sunday. The company said it is studying options that include a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Software Spectrum

(SSPE)

reported second-quarter earnings of 14 cents per share, in line with the two-analyst expectation and up from the year-ago loss of 12 cents. The company said CFO Deborah Nugent resigned effective Jan. 31, 1998, to pursue other interests. The search is on for a new CFO.

UniMark Group

(UNMG)

said it will retain an investment bank to explore unspecified strategic alternatives.

Home Products International

(HPII)

agreed to acquire

Seymour Housewares

for $100 million from privately held

Chase Capital Partners

.

Stanhome

(STH)

said it plans to sell most of its direct-selling unit for $68 million to France's

Laboratoires de Biologie de Vegetale Yves Rocher

. Stanhome will take a fourth-quarter charge of 34 cents per share. The company also said that it expects its

Enesco

unit to report a year-over-year decline of 7% to 9% in 1997 sales.