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Off-Hours Trading: Futures Noncommittal, Stocks Inert as Fed Watch Begins


Direction is in short supply this morning as Wall Street gets ready to hear from the

Federal Open Market Committee

this afternoon.

Early action in the


futures wasn't telling us much about the open, with the

S&P 500

futures just a tad below fair value. The thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

futures were down 28.5 to 3695.

General strength in European markets was having little effect on this side of the pond. The French

CAC 40

was up 1.8%, while the German

Xetra Dax

and the U.K.'s

FTSE 100

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each were up 0.5%.

Corporate news wasn't moving stocks much.


(QCOM) - Get QUALCOMM Incorporated Report

was unchanged at 136 1/16 on


after announcing it's jointly developing a wireless appliance system with



. Ericsson hadn't traded on Instinet but reportedly surged in Sweden on the news.

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report

hadn't traded on news that Chairman and CEO Jack Smith would cede his CEO post to President and COO G. Richard Wagoner.


(IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report

hadn't traded on its morning news either; the company announced plans to market new disk storage systems for Windows NT and Unix.

Last Night's After-Hours Trading

By Eric Gillin
Editorial Assistant

What goes up ...

... must release earnings after the bell.



had a pretty good time today, partying its way up 13 3/4, or 5.7%, to 252 1/8. But tonight, it was hungover and much lower on


ECN after releasing pro forma fourth-quarter losses of 28 cents a share, which is narrower than the

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate of a 34-cent loss.

The business-to-business play also announced a 2-for-1 stock split, but to no avail. Investors still dropped the stock, despite the fact that it exceeded estimates and set that split.

It was last off 5 to 247 on 150,000 shares.

Much of the negative sentiment stems from the fact that the pro forma fourth-quarter loss of 28 cents was 7 cents worse than last year's pro forma quarter, which saw a loss of 21 cents. Also, today's run-up shows that investors expected big news from the company that apparently didn't deliver.

Copper Mountain Networks


was a different story altogether. It was last up 3 1/8 to 60 on 100,000 shares after releasing pro forma fourth-quarter earnings of 13 cents a share, a nickel better than analyst estimates and better than last year's 4 cents.

During the day session, Copper Mountain gained 1 9/16, or 2.8%, to 56 13/16.

Joey Lawrence

might be a cringe-inducing doofus, but he had a winner of a catchphrase.




made a late push onto Island's chart and rose 20 1/8 to 142 1/2 on 40,000 shares. The hefty move stems from the company's release of its fourth-quarter earnings and the announcement of a 3-for-1 stock split.

Fourth-quarter earnings were 4 cents a share, which beat the breakeven analyst estimate. The 3-for-1 stock split affects all shareholders of record at the end of trading on Feb. 15.

"Ointment" isn't a very sexy word. Usually it invokes memories of mosquito bites, groin pulls or grandpa's medicine cabinet.

BioSpecifics Technologies

(BSTC) - Get BioSpecifics Technologies Corp. Report

changed that during today's day session and traded heavily in after-hours trading. It was last off 5/16 to 4 5/16 on 850,000 shares, capping a day session gain of 2 1/8, or 91.9%, to 4 1/2 on 1.2 million shares.

Why all the hubbub, bub?

The company announced that its Collagenase Santyl ointment would now be marketed by

Smith & Nephew

(SNN) - Get Smith & Nephew PLC Sponsored ADR Report

, a London-based medical device maker. The ointment, which is used to treat wounds, racked up sales of $37 million in 1999, when

Knoll Pharmaceutical

, unit of chemical giant


, helmed its marketing push. Knoll will continue to manufacture the product, though.

BioSpecifics CFO Al Horcher said that Smith & Nephew is a better fit for the Santyl ointment, because the company's product line contains products like bandages that are more in-line with the use of creams. On the other hand, Knoll is a narcotics company, focused on pills.

"This was Knoll's only wound-care product and it didn't fit into their product line," Horcher said. "It made sense for BASF to sell it."

Horcher said that relations with Knoll will be unaffected by the change in marketing partners.

"We've had a relationship with Knoll for 25 years," he said. "We make the enzyme, Collagenase Santyl, which is the active ingredient in the ointment. Knoll has the only facility that can make the ointment."

For a

second night in a row, issues in



traded hot and heavy.

Last night, the electronics maker hung around the top of Island's most-active chart following the release of its second-quarter earnings. The company has a market cap below $9 million and isn't covered by analysts, which means there were no estimates to beat. But earnings did beat the previous year's quarter by 17 cents a share, giving investors something to talk about.

Tonight, a pair of press releases from Conolog at the end of the trading day increased both interest and momentum in the final hours until the close. It rose 1/4, or 18.2%, to 1 21/32 on 1.7 million shares of activity, with the majority of that activity from 3 p.m. on.

It was last unchanged at 1 19/32 on 680,000 shares on Island.

Again, Conolog is an electronics maker, which means its announcements regarding new technology can be a little thick. The first release touted the introduction of what the press release called "a stand-alone multiplex system for low volume analog data and status applications."

Essentially, the mutliplexer is part of Conolog's digital signal processing system, DSP for short, which helps control and maintain data flow in a system.

The other release needs little explanation. Conolog announced that

National Financial Network

would be heading up the company's investor relations campaign.

The adventures of Super Q continue at night.


(QCOM) - Get QUALCOMM Incorporated Report

added to today's 9-point gain, edging up 1/8 to 135 7/8 on 120,000 shares on Island.

Island ECN, owned by Datek Online, offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.


MarketXT, formerly Eclipse Trading, offers after-hours trading to retail clients of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's (MWD) Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Online, Mellon Bank's (MEL) Dreyfus Brokerage Services and clients of Salomon Smith Barney. Clients can trade 200 of the most actively traded New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market issues, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday.


explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.