A mixed bag of companies was getting notice in preopen trading. On

Instinet

,

Unisys

(UIS) - Get Report

was down 4 1/8 to 19, after the company warned its second-quarter earnings would fall short of analyst estimates.

Central Newspapers

(ECP)

, which accepted a bid from

Gannett

(GCI) - Get Report

for $2.6 billion, was off 1 1/16 to 63 1/16.

Mallinckrodt

(MKG)

was up 12 5/8 to 44 after it was announced that

Tyco

(TYC)

would buy the company in a stock deal worth about $4.2 billion.

Also, the

WorldCom

(WCOM)

and

Sprint

(FON)

merger was still getting investor attention even though the deal looks dead after the

Justice Department

said it would fight the $120 billion merger and the

European Commission

said it prohibited the match. Now,

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

was getting hit amid reports the company was preparing a $99 billion bid for Sprint,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

On

Instinet

, Sprint was trading up to 56 from yesterday's closing price of 52 25/32, while WorldCom was off 9/16 to 44.

The

S&P 500 futures on

Globex

lately were down 8 to 1463, close to 11 points below fair value, indicating negative sentiment and a red opening. No love for the

Nasdaq 100

futures, which were down 52 to 3764.

Europe's major indices were tanking due to telecoms, with France's

CAC 40

down 1.6 %, Germany's

Xetra Dax

down 2% and the U.K.'s

FTSE 100

lately down 0.8% (see today's

European Midday Update for more). Japan's

Nikkei 225

rose 0.6% overnight, while Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

slipped 0.9% (see today's

Asian Markets Update for more).

U.S. Stocks in Europe: Gauging Options if Sprint-Worldcom Deal Is Called Off

LONDON -- Following speculation that more mergers would fill the void left by the almost certain collapse of the

WorldCom

(WCOM)

-

Sprint

(FON)

merger, you'd expect European investors to have the numbers of several telecommunications stocks on speed dial.

Yet, investors betting on new merger activity could find themselves on hold.

Although the suit filed by the

U.S. Justice Department

Tuesday to block the deal almost certainly means its demise, contracts prevent WorldCom and Sprint from talking to other parties until the deal is officially terminated -- something that neither company has yet done.

While Sprint saw some buying Thursday morning in Europe, most other companies rumored to either be hunting or hunted were trading lower. Investors widely expect Sprint to be acquired once its business with WorldCom is finished.

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

has been talked about as a likely

bidder. Deutsche Telekom shares declined 2.78 euros, or 4.38%, to 60.73 euros ($57.74), while shares of Sprint traded in Germany gained 3 euros, or 4.92%, to 64 euros.

Sprint, like many U.S. stocks, is listed on several foreign exchanges as well as on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares of

VoiceStream Wireless

(VSTR)

and

Nextel Communications

(NXTL)

, two candidates that would be attractive to bidders because of their enviable position as national wireless companies, failed to show much strength. Voicestream lost 5 euros, or 3.76%, to 128 euros. Nextel gained slightly, up 55 European cents, or 0.86%, to 64.55 euros. Investors skeptical of a potential deal may well remember that WorldCom and Nextel have talked merger before, but the deal fell apart over price last year, when Nextel was trading for far less than it does now.

Companies that could take the buying side on any industry consolidation also traded lower. WorldCom was off 1 euro, or 2.10%, to 46.70 euro.

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

was down 1.65 euros, or 4.67%, to 33.65 euros and

BellSouth

(BLS)

was also down 90 European cents, or 1.88%, to 47 euros.

The broader market also was setting itself up for a weaker open. The September contract for the

S&P 500 futures traded down 4.8 points to 1,466.4 at 6:30 a.m. EDT, or 7.6 points below

fair value. The

Nasdaq

futures were off 51.50 points to 3,780.5.

Wednesday's After-Hours Trading

By Angela Privin
Staff Reporter

Tonight's preholiday session promised to be a sleepy one until

Palm

(PALM)

high-fived the market with some happy fourth-quarter results. With a 101% jump in revenue on the year and better-than-expected profits, everyone tried to get their hands on some shares, sending the handheld computer company 4 3/4 higher to 31 1/8 on 227,000

Island

shares and up 41/64 to 31 1/64 on

Instinet

.

Palm

beat Wall Street consensus estimates by 2 cents, posting a fourth-quarter profit of 3 cents a share after the bell.

If investors had just Asked Jeeves, they would know that the Internet search engine will soon offer a wireless application for Palm handheld computers. The application, dubbed Jeeves Unplugged, gives Palm users access to

Ask Jeeves'

(ASKJ)

online search engine, which looks for answers to questions that are written in ordinary English.

All this good news for a company that scraped its 52-week-low of 19 7/8 on May 24 and ended the day session 1/2 lower.

3Com

(COMS)

, which spun Palm off and still owns 94.3% of it, enjoyed a contact rally, popping 2 15/16 to 51 1/8 on 17,000 shares.

eCollege.com

(ECLG)

develops applications and software that builds college campuses on the Internet. This morning the company announced the launched of eCorporateU, for corporate training and corporate universities. The service already has 19 clients.

The Internet company rose 4% during the day on the news and expanded its mind after hours, rising 1/16 to 3 1/8.

It is likely that the popularity of cyber college campuses will grow with advances in cyber beer sites.

Home improvement company

ImproveNet

(IMPV) - Get Report

hit the floor today, settling at a 52-week low of 2 5/8.

But tonight it gained more than a third of its value after announcing that it will team with

Landlord.com

to provide a "how to" home improvement utility wizard through Landlord.com's Web site.

Landlord.com is an online content provider for rental property owners and managers. ImproveNet.com provides home improvement information and services on the Internet, including an e-marketplace where homeowners, service providers and suppliers can exchange information.

Currently one of ImproveNet's most popular features is the "find a contractor'' service, which provides a nationwide network of prescreened contractors, architects and designers who are interested and available for the jobs submitted. Lately ImproveNet was up 1 1/16 to 3 5/8 on 15,000 Island shares.

Tonight

SDL

(SDLI)

announced that it will expand its North American operations by building two new facilities to meet expanding demand for SDL's products.

The optical communications company settled almost 4% higher today then fell after the news was released. While the physical expansion of the company implies demand growth, tonight's drop looked like light profit-taking after today's bounce. The company recovered midsession to end the night 1/16 higher at 288.

Now that

Mallinckrodt

(MKG)

has sprung 13 5/8 to 45 on Instinet, it can afford to buy some vowels for its name. Vanna?

While execs at manufacturing conglomerate

Tyco

(TYC)

could not pronounce the name of the health and drug firm, it decided to buy it anyway in a $4.2 billion deal. The merger will create the second-largest medical device maker.

Tyco will offer Mallinckrodt shareholders $47.50 in Tyco stock for each of their shares, bringing the equity portion of the deal to about $3.1 billion. Tyco will also assume $1.1 billion in Mallinckrodt debt.

Tribune

(TRB)

announced tonight the results shareholder elections after the merger of the Tribune and

Times Mirror

.

On June 12, Tribune acquired Times Mirror for $8 billion in cash and stock, creating a really, really big media company. It will also be the only television-newspaper-interactive combination in the top three markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Tribune ended 1 1/8 higher to 36 7/8 on 152,000 Instinet shares.

After falling more than 16% or 1/16 during the day to 5/16 on 85,600 shares,

Natural Health Trends

(NHTC) - Get Report

was feeling a little better. It had recovered half of its losses or 1/32 by night on 43,000 Island shares.

The company markets a line of natural, over-the-counter homeopathic pharmaceuticals but none of its natural healing remedies have nursed the company out of its steady price decline.

This information is provided by Instinet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reuters (RTRSY) . For further information, please contact Instinet at www.instinet.com.

Island ECN, owned by Datek Online, offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT.

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.