The Night Watch: 3Com Up, Ford Down in After-Hours Action

Ford joined the warnings cavalcade tonight and said its fourth-quarter picture had dimmed.
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A truckload of news arrived on Wall Street after the closing bell, with some of the headlines better than others.

Ford

(F) - Get Report

announced that its fourth-quarter earnings would come in at 64 cents a share, 10 cents below the

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate of 74 cents. The auto manufacturer also said that it was cutting its North American production schedule for the first quarter of 2001 by 9%, or 107,000 units, to 1.05 million vehicles.

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As a result, shares of Ford traded down 4.9% to $23 on

Instinet

, on very light volume.

Adding to tonight's roster of bad news, Internet consulting company

Viant

(VIAN)

said that it expects losses for the fourth quarter to be --

all together now!

-- wider than Wall Street's forecasts.

The Internet consulting firm said that it expects to lose 6 cents to 8 cents per share for the quarter, significantly lower than the 7 cent per share profit it earned in the year-ago period. Wall Street analysts had expected the company to lose 4 cents a share for the quarter.

Viant also said it expects a $5 million to $7 million restructuring charge during the period. The company said revenue would be between $27 million and $28 million for the quarter. Analysts had predicted revenue of $31.9 million.

At last glance, shares of Viant had not traded.

On the good news front,

3Com

(COMS)

posted a narrower-than-expected second-quarter losses but said quarter-to-quarter sales were lower because of the slowdown in the telecom sector.

3Com said its pro forma loss was 15 cents a share, compared with a net loss of 12 cents a share in the prior quarter. Analysts expected the company to lose 20 cents a share for the quarter. The company had lowered its second-quarter estimates by 13% in early December.

3Com popped 12.2% to $8.06 on Island.

In the merger spotlight, shares of

Litton

(LIT) - Get Report

soared 23.6% to $77.38 on Instinet. After the closing bell,

Northrop Grumman

(NOC) - Get Report

announced that it would purchase Litton in a $3.8 billion deal.

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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.