Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

fell to 139 in late composite trading after finishing the New York session at 144 1/4. As reported

earlier, the drug giant announced shortly before the closing bell that it would not begin Phase III studies of its MK-869 drug to treat depression.

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from

First Call

; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

DQE

(DQE)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 62 cents a share, in line with the five-analyst outlook but below the year-ago 75 cents.

ESC Medical Systems

(ESCMF)

said it expects to post a first-quarter restructuring charge of $13 million to $17 million and that it rescheduled its fourth-quarter earnings report for Feb. 8 to complete an audit and include details of the restructuring. The company planned to report Jan. 26. The six-analyst forecast calls for 19 cents a share. The stock fell to 6 1/2 from 6 7/8 in after-hours trading.

Lone Star Technologies

(LSS)

reported a fourth-quarter loss of 63 cents a share, 1 cent wider than the four-analyst view and below the year-ago profit of 49 cents.

Saying warm weather cut earnings by at least 50 cents a share,

South Jersey Industries

(SJI) - Get Report

recorded fourth-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, below the single-analyst estimate of 76 cents and the year-ago 73 cents.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

BF Goodrich

(GR)

and

Coltec Industries

(COT) - Get Report

said the

Federal Trade Commission

requested additional information on the companies' planned $2 billion merger.

Penn National Gaming

(PENN) - Get Report

said it is the target of an unsolicited tender offer by privately held

IG Holdings

for up to 2% of the company's shares at $5 each.

Miscellany

Network Equipment

(NWK)

said its president and CEO, Joseph J. Francesconi, resigned but will serve until March 31 or until a successor is named.

Vencor

(VC) - Get Report

Chairman and Chief Executive W. Bruce Lunsford resigned. The company replaced him with Edward L. Kuntz, president and COO.