On this, the first postclose trading session of spring, a news-bearing 3Com (COMS) halted like a lamb and emerged an hour later like a -- lamb.

After gaining 9/16 to 68 9/16 ahead of tonight's third-quarter earnings release, 3Com surfaced from its hour-long halt at 5:06 p.m. EST and began trading heavily without moving much. Finally the ball began rolling shortly after 6 p.m. and 3Com got a boost. It was last up 1 3/8 to 69 15/16 on 160,000 shares on

Instinet

and up 11/16 to 69 1/2 on 390,000 shares on

Island

.

3Com announced third-quarter earnings of 27 cents a share, beating the 25-cent

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate and the year ago 24 cents a share. As with most major earnings releases, the company had an awful lot to say while at the podium. 3Com said it put its analog PC card and modem businesses on the sales block. It also said it was exiting the high-end router and switching business, yielding to larger networkers like

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

. And these two announcements come on the heels of its recent

Palm

(PALM)

spinoff.

With all this time on its hands, what is 3Com going to focus on? Tonight, the company said it is reorganizing its business, taking a $200 million to $300 million charge in doing so over the next two quarters. It also announced that it will buy closely held

Call Technologies

for $90 million.

And speaking of those Palm shares, 3Com said it will distribute them in its first quarter rather than in its second.

Did anyone catch the license plate of the truck that hit

Protein Design Labs

(PDLI) - Get Report

today?

Before March, this biotechnology name knew only one direction. It was the unstoppable juggernaut in an inspired sector. From Jan. 1 to the close March 7,

Protein Design Labs

(PDLI) - Get Report

rose 368% while dropping a mere five times in the entire month of February. Since hitting a record peak of 327 1/4 March 7, the company has blown a few gears and has been left with only two -- neutral and reverse. In the nine trading sessions since, it has dropped 59%, posting a gain during just one session.

Today, Protein Design Labs got blindsided by a truckload of sellers. It got hit hard and then bled by the side of the road, dropping 47 1/32, or 26%, to 134 1/8 during the day. Tonight, that truck kicked it into reverse.

Protein Design Labs was last off 26 7/8 to 108 on 44,000 shares on Island.

Tonight's news was more gas in the sellers' tanks, especially on the heels of today's hit and run. Shortly after the bell, the company announced that it lost a European patent claim on humanized monoclonal antibodies. The company plans to appeal the decision, but that legal battle could take years to settle. In the interim period, the latest patent decision will be suspended.

For what it's worth, tonight's selloff could be worse. Volume has been very light and with that a handful of ridiculous sell bids are pairing off with some insane buys. Most sell offers are well above the 120 level.

Earnings season, eh?

Ottawa's own

Corel

(CORL)

reported first quarter losses of 19 cents a share, which includes a gain of 10 cents a share from the sale of an equity interest in

GraphOn

. Essentially, that's a 29-cent loss, paling in comparison to last year's 24-cent loss. And however you add it up, Corel missed the one analyst estimate of a 16-cent loss.

Bad night, eh?

Corel fell 2 29/64 to 10 63/64 on 96,000 shares on Instinet and 2 3/4 to 10 17/32 on 286,000 shares on Island.

Traditionally, the first quarter has been a relatively weak one for Corel, so tonight's earnings numbers aren't that much of a shock. Still, the news isn't good, especially after Corel said that it expects results in the next two quarters to follow a very similar pattern to the first.

Despite a slight recovery in the postclose session, those investors with angry spouses can still get the couch ready for bedtime.

MicroStrategy

(MSTR) - Get Report

was last up 4 15/16 to 90 15/16 on 136,000 shares on Island. That's better, but not good enough to take the sting out of a day session loss of 140, or 61.7%, to 86 3/4.

The red-hot company blew up on news that it revised its 1999 earnings from a previously stated profit to a -- gulp -- loss.

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 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. NOTE: Island, unlike Instinet and Archipelago, counts the buy side and the sell side of the same transaction as two separate trades. Island's reported volume figures thus are twice what they would be if Island followed the same convention as the other ECNs

.

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.