Sun Microsystems (SUNW) - Get Report was beaming after it posted third-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, topping the 20-analyst estimate of 23 cents and the year-ago report of an 18-cent profit. CEO Scott McNealy attributed the strong results to a boost in market share after cruising through Y2K woes to see an rise in business during its second quarter.

During the quarter, Sun saw revenue shoot up 35% to hit $4 billion. According to CFO Michael Lehman, the company holds over $5 billion in cash and securities.

Gateway

(GTW)

reported first-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, in line with the 22-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 31-cent profit. The PC seller said that a 27% increase sales in its consumer computer unit made up for slowness in its business division, which suffered a 19% loss in sales.

According to CFO John Todd, the business division's sales have shown progress every month since its January low. Todd told investors that he sees a seasonal drop in sales during the second quarter but assured that the Gateway is on track to post second-quarter earnings in line with the 21-analyst estimate of 36 cents a share and the fiscal 2000 22-analyst estimate of $1.83 a share.

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from

First Call/Thomson Financial

; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Citizens Utilities

(CZN)

said it would sell its Louisiana gas operations to

Atmos Energy

(ATO) - Get Report

in a deal worth about $375 million including certain liabilities.

The online mall

Shopnow.com

(SPNW)

announced that it has acquired Freemerchant.com, a provider of e-commerce services to small- and medium-size businesses for $34 million, including $32 million in Shopnow.com common stock and $2 million in cash.

Earnings/revenue reports

ArthroCare

(ARTC)

posted first-quarter earnings of 36 cents a share, well above the five-analyst estimate of 27 cents and the year-ago 3 cents.

Foundry Networks

(FDRY)

posted first-quarter pro forma earnings of 15 cents a share, beating the six-analyst estimate of 9 cents and up from the year-ago pro forma report of a 2-cent profit.

Harrah's Entertainment

(HET)

expects first-quarter earnings to be 24 cents to 26 cents a share, compared to the current analyst estimate of 29 cents and the year-ago 30 cents.

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

reported first-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate of 3 cents a share and up from the year-ago loss of 13 cents. The company also announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

MotorVac Technologies

(MVAC)

said it expects to report income far below analyst estimates due to weak sales in the U.S. and Canada. The company said it expects to report earnings of 5 cents to 6 cents a share compared with 6 cents in the year-ago quarter. The lone-analyst estimate is for 11 cents..

RPM

(RPM) - Get Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 4 cents a share, in line with the nine-analyst estimate, but down from the year-ago 6 cents.

Safeco

(SAFC)

warned that it sees lower-than-expected first-quarter operating profits of about 5 cents a share.

Sonicwall

(SNWL)

posted first-quarter earnings of 13 cents, which excludes a stock compensation expense, up from the year-ago report of a penny profit. The five-analyst estimate expected the company to post a 7-cent profit.

Webvan

(WBVN)

posted a first-quarter loss of 12 cents a share, a penny narrower than the 10-analyst estimate but wider than the year-ago loss of 9 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Breakaway Solutions

(BWAY) - Get Report

axed plans for a 3 million-share secondary offering because of volatile market conditions.

Genome Therapeutics

(GENE) - Get Report

withdrew a 3 million-share secondary offering, citing the stock market's recent volatility.

Miscellany

American Home Products

(AHP)

said that it will move ahead with its proposed settlement with thousands of former users of diet suppressants taken in the "fen-phen" slimming cocktail. According to the New Jersey based drugmaker, more than 99 percent of the estimated 5.8 million users of anti-obesity drugs, Redux and Pondimin, will be covered by terms of the settlement.

Vical

(VICL)

said its president and CEO Alan Schreiber will retire in June.

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The Night Watch.