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Preopen Trading: Market Lacks Clear Direction

Tech stocks are on the rise in London trading.


S&P 500 futures were up 5.6 points, almost 2 points above fair value, which isn't much of an indication for the open. The

Nasdaq 100

futures were 13.5 points higher, indicating some positive buying sentiment for large-cap tech stocks.

At 10 a.m. EDT, the Consumer Sentiment Index will be released. For more, check out


Economic Databank.


(QCOM) - Get QUALCOMM Incorporated Report

, which suffered yesterday after

Chase Hambrecht & Quist

lowered its earnings estimates and cuts its price target on the stock to 50, was seeing some positive trading action in London. Qualcomm was up 1 to 62 1/2, compared with Thursday's close of 61 7/16.

Other technology stocks rose in London trading on Friday, including


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report



(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report



(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report


What can

Red Hat


do for you? For one thing, in last night's after-hours session, it was able to turn in a hefty rise on unexpectedly strong first-quarter results.

Linux provider Red Hat posted a first-quarter loss of 2 cents a share vs. the four-analyst

First Call/Thomson Financial

expectation of a loss of 4 cents and the year-ago loss of 8 cents.

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Revenue was $16 million, a 95% increase over last year and 22% over the fourth quarter of 1999.

Red Hat rose 15/16 to 24 3/8 on 165,000 Island shares.

Adobe Systems

(ADBE) - Get Adobe Inc. Report

also announced financial results last night, and despite a stronger-than-expected performance it was lately trading down 2 11/16 to 122 on 48,000 Island shares.

Adobe, a maker of Web publishing software, has been immune to the plight of the tech sector, climbing while fellow tech stocks fell. Adobe hit its 52-week high of 132 on June 5, and on Tuesday


upgraded it to strong buy from accumulate.

Last night, Adobe posted second-quarter earnings of 51 cents a share, better than the 12-analyst estimate of 48 cents and year-ago earnings of 35 cents.

The company said the good news was driven by strong sales of its Web publishing and Acrobat software.

Adobe also replaced its CFO, promoting Murray Demo from interim CFO.

Last night's pullback was typical of the "buy the rumor, sell the fact" scenario after the software company rose steadily in anticipation of financial results, tacking on another 2 7/8 during the day. Or it could also have been an indication of investors' reaction to news heard during the conference call. The company said it missed one of its revenue targets, reported





said last night that revenue growth for the quarter ending June 30 should be about 20% higher than the previous quarter. Also, losses per share will be lower than analysts' consensus estimates.

The company said it will implement a cost reduction policy that will shave more than $15 million over the next 12 months. In cyberspace, real estate may be cheap, but people are pricey. The downloadable-music Web site will lay off 20% of its staff, leaving 180 employees. It will also reduce marketing costs.

The company currently has digital download licenses to more than 300,000 titles from more than 85 record labels and 1,300 recording artists and 4,000 unsigned artists. Before the company's president and CEO, Gene Hoffman, appeared on


at 4:50 p.m. EDT, the stock traded higher in anticipation after climbing 3/16, or 7%, during the day session. It dipped shortly after the appearance but then regained its composure.

Hoffman was asked why people would pay to download music on the Web when they can do it for free. Apparently 13 million people have downloaded free music, while only 2 million have paid for it. Hoffman said that downloading of free music has helped his company by creating industry demand.

According to its last financial statement, the company had $47 million in cash and was burning through $16 million per quarter, with just under three quarters of cash left. Hoffman would not say how much cash the company had left but reassured that the cost-cutting measures should help the company reach profitability before the Wall Street forecasts of late 2001.

He also said that the layoffs were spurred by a recent acquisition. "We now need a smaller team to focus on major labels," Hoffman added.

Emusic was up 1/32 to 2 29/32 on 156,000 Island shares.

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


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