It's been hard to get much of a picture of the stock market's early direction this morning as the
March futures contract on
was slightly lower, off 1.1 points to 1453.20, and the thinly traded
contract was off 20 to 3595.
Some of yesterday's troubled names, though, were showing a little strength this morning and through last night's after-hours session.
, following a better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings report, was down just 7 3/8 to 390 this morning, according to
. For a summary of last night's wild ride on Yahoo!, please read the summary of last night's action.
was recently quoted up 2 1/16 to 67 1/16.
Last Night's After-Hours Trading
Good news from Yahoo! cheered no one on Tuesday night.
The company announced fourth-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates, along with a 2-for-1 stock split and company Web-traffic data.
The company reported fourth-quarter earnings were 19 cents a share, better than the 15-cent
First Call/Thomson Financial
estimate and better than last year's 4 cents. Revenue was up as well. This year's fourth-quarter revenue was $201.1 million, much better than last year's $91.3 million.
A bad trading day just got worse. It last traded down 14 1/2 to 383 1/2, a further hemorrhage from its New York close of 397 3/8, down 38 11/16. Prior to the news release, Yahoo! was halted at 4:18 p.m. EST with a gain of 5 1/2 to 403 1/2 on
ECN. The halt lifted at 5:21 p.m. and Yahoo! began trading fast and furious, dropping heavily. Early trades had it down more than 16, before it dropped like a rock, hitting 374, a loss of 24 by 5:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., Yahoo! firmed up a bit and was only off 19 to 379. Since then, it slowly crept up on 380, spiking past it to 384 with fewer than 15 minutes left in trading on Island.
Here's a look at Yahoo!'s postclose activity. All quotes are from Island and all times are Eastern Standard Time.
The company's Web-traffic report was jammed with good news. It reported that its unique users numbered 120 million, double the year-ago figure. Page views nearly tripled, with this year's 465 million views a day, much stronger than last year's 167 million a day. As good as these numbers seem, they should be viewed with a suspicious eye. The Internet, as a whole, grew by leaps and bounds in 1999, so there's no telling how much of these data were due to Yahoo!'s individual performance or general interest in the Web.
Certain tech stocks recoiled after Yahoo!'s news, but most recovered as the night dragged on, with some even posting healthy gains.
fell 3 1/4 to 268 3/4 after losing 32 1/2 during the day.
A 9 1/2-point day-session loser,
shook off heavy after-hours losses and ended with a gain of 4 5/16 to 195.
wavered between positive and negative before finishing up 7/16 to 144 7/16.
gained 4 3/32 to 195.
gained 13/16 to 43 3/8.
gained 1 1/8 to 71 1/2.
Just off of Island's most-actives list was an unfamiliar issue, America Online. It's rare to see a three-lettered stock on Island. But as mom always said, "Read the fine print."
At the bottom of our list of the 10 most-active issues on Island, there is a small paragraph explaining that the ECN "mainly" trades in Nasdaq stocks. This is one of those very rare occurrences when "mainly" doesn't apply.
According to Cameron Smith, an Island spokesman and legal counsel, only three non-Nasdaq stocks trade on the ECN as part of a pilot program. Those three lucky companies are AOL,
capped today's 49.2% gain with even more in after-hours trading. The company was last up 5/16 to 6 on Island, something of a disappointment, really. Previously, the company was up more than 2 points.
There's little news coming out of Cody, Wis., home of the mineral processing company. In fact, there's been little news from the company over the last three months, except for two press releases. The first, released on Nov. 17, detailed Altair's purchase of titanium pigment processing technology from
BHP Minerals International
. The second came just last Wednesday. In the release, the company announced that
N. M. Rothschild & Sons
would be handling its investment banking advisory needs.
Altair CFO C. Patrick Costin credited those two press releases with tonight's early gain and heavy interest.
"A few months ago, our company purchased a titanium pigment process from BHP Minerals," he said. "We thought it was of significant value and that value has not been recognized by the market. I'm anything but a stock prognosticator, but I think someone has woken up to what we've done."
Costin explained that the company's titanium pigment process enables it to control the size of particles, giving it the ability to create nanoparticles, which are smaller than ordinary particles.
"It may not sound like a big deal," Costin said, "but it is."
He said that nanoparticles could be found in a wide variety of items because of their translucence and pigmenting ability. As a result, nanoparticles can be found in everything from the latest cosmetics to iridescent auto paint.
"There's a whole field of nanoparticles that are growing now," Costin said.
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.