It's been hard to get much of a picture of the stock market's early direction this morning as the

S&P 500

March futures contract on

Globex

was slightly lower, off 1.1 points to 1453.20, and the thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

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.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, following a better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings report, was down just 7 3/8 to 390 this morning, according to

Instinet

. For a summary of last night's wild ride on Yahoo!, please read the summary of last night's action.

In addition,

America Online

(AOL)

was recently quoted up 2 1/16 to 67 1/16.

Last Night's After-Hours Trading

By Eric Gillin
Editorial Assistant

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

Island

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.

CMGI

(CMGI)

fell 3 1/4 to 268 3/4 after losing 32 1/2 during the day.

A 9 1/2-point day-session loser,

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

shook off heavy after-hours losses and ended with a gain of 4 5/16 to 195.

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

wavered between positive and negative before finishing up 7/16 to 144 7/16.

Ariba

(ARBA)

gained 4 3/32 to 195.

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

gained 13/16 to 43 3/8.

Lycos

(LCOS)

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,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

.

Altair International

(ALTIF)

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.

Confused?

TheStreet.com

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