(Updated from 6:34 p.m. EDT)
Imagine, for a moment, an after-hours trading session without a heap of profit warnings -- one in which investors do not gang up on companies that confess financial shortfalls.
Just as investors began to warm to technology stocks -- the
Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2% today, having dropped 3.2% yesterday -- a large-cap company sent shivers through the marketplace.
After the closing bell, personal computer manufacturer
warned that third-quarter revenue growth is currently falling 3 percentage points below expectations, citing weak demand in Europe.
"There has been some macro-psychology at play with the weak euro,"
reported CEO Michael Dell as saying. Addressing the company's fall analyst meeting in Round Rock, Texas, Dell claimed that "people have been significantly less inclined to make expenditures in terms of technology." (
Dell's news in a separate story.)
The boxmaker said that it didn't see any problems meeting third-quarter earnings estimates, but that fourth-quarter results could be "one cent to two cents below company targets." With a whopping 1.2 million shares in play, Dell dropped $1.81, or 6.4%, to $26.38 on
. The PC manufacturer decreased $2.44, or 8.7%, to $25.75 on
, with volume of 652,283.
On the heels of Dell's announcement,
stock saw increased activity. The world's largest computer chipmaker alerted investors to a revenue shortfall two weeks ago and has been punished by investors since that time. Intel lost 50 cents, or 1%, to $41.50 on Instinet, with volume of 1.2 million shares. On Island, the semiconductor stock shed 69 cents, or 1.64%, to $41.31, with 232,325 shares in motion.
In other postclose drama, telecommunications systems provider
gave a less-than-melodious forecast for its third quarter. The company -- which attributes its earnings shortfall to a sales slowdown -- expects to report a pro forma loss of 6 cents to 9 cents, well behind the
First Call/Thomson Financial
prediction of a 12-cent profit. Harmonic dropped to the tune of $8.44, or 37%, to $14.83 on Instinet, making it the platform's biggest loser. On Island, shares of the telecommunications company lowered 47 cents, or 34.4%, to $14.97.
The second most damaged stock on Instinet was
. After the regular session, the application service provider cautioned investors that third-quarter losses would surpass Wall Street targets, because of delayed or canceled projects and fewer dot-com opportunities. As a result the company saw its stock's value break $2.50, or 33.3%, to $5 on Instinet.
Trading tonight has not been so turbulent for everyone, however. Headlining tonight's success stories is
. This evening, the memory chipmaker recorded fourth-quarter earnings that handily beat analysts' forecasts.
Micron posted earnings of $1.16, ahead of the 96-cent broker prediction and last year's $1.08 result. The company said that sales more than doubled to $2.57 billion from $1.08 billion in the year-ago period. On Instinet, the semiconductor stock lifted 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $47, while it rose 31 cents, or 0.6%, to $47.25 on Island.
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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.