The Night Watch: Intel Rises on Upside Earnings Surprise

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Hello Mr. Chips!

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

rose 5 5/8 to 96 5/8 on 1.5 million shares on

Island

ECN after announcing its fourth-quarter earnings along with a slew of other news. The fourth quarter came in at 69 cents a share, beating the

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate of 63 cents and last year's 60 cents.

Before the earnings announcement hit the street, Intel was off 4 on Island. It then reversed direction and gained momentum, posting sizable gains and rising to the top of the most-actives heap. It broke past a volume of a million shares by 4:40 p.m. and has trailed off since then.

Traditionally, the fourth quarter is the biggest for computer makers, which makes Intel's late fiscal success understandable. Along with earnings, the company announced that first-quarter revenue would not beat the fourth quarter's $8.2 billion. But it also announced that first-quarter expenses would be reduced 3% to 5% vs. the fourth quarter's $2 billion.

Other than earnings and the mild first-quarter warning, the rest of Intel's announcement regarded year 2000 budgetary actions. The company said it saw its gross margin around 61%, put its research and development spending at $3.8 billion and its year 2000 capital spending at $5 billion, $1.6 billion more than in 1999.

Intel wasn't the only company making waves with big announcements.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

announced that Chairman

Bill Gates

would be leaving his CEO post, with President

Steve Ballmer

as his replacement. The company also set a technology pact with

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

.

Investors seemed timid about the news. Microsoft was initially down right as the news hit and then slowly crept above its close. It was last up 7/16 to 108 1/4 on 250,000 shares.

Don't look for Gates in the unemployment line anytime soon. When the change takes place after the release of Windows 2000, Gates will still wear numerous hats in the company. He stays on as the chairman of the board and will become the company's new chief software architect. Ending the musical chairs, Ballmer gets a seat on Microsoft's board, starting Jan. 27.

In a press conference following the announcements, future CEO Ballmer answered some burning questions involving Microsoft's scuffle with the federal government and its role after the

America Online

(AOL)

/

Time Warner

(TWX)

merger. Ballmer weighed in, calling a Microsoft break-up "reckless and irresponsible" and saying that the company had no interest in a megamerger and was staying focused on software.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom has more on the

Gates step-down. James J. Cramer's got an

opinion on the news from both companies.

Executive switcheroos aside, Microsoft also announced a pact with GE. The phase "smart appliances" was invoked, revealing a future filled with talking refrigerators and ovens that notify when a burner is left on.

Other tech names got a boost from all the news.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

shrugged off today's losses and gained 7 23/32 to 354 15/32.

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

gained 57/64 to 44.

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

gained 3/64 to 42 1/2.

Jackpot!

eLot

(ELOT)

extended today's heavy interest into the postclose session. Unfortunately, the online lottery retailer couldn't hold on to its winning streak. It was off 19/32 to 8 11/32 on 1 million shares on Island.

During the day session, eLot rose 2 15/16, or 49%, to 8 31/32 on 24.4 million shares, dwarfing the preceding day's 1.4 million shares. Today, the company announced that its new web site,

eLotteryFreeWay.com

, drew 24,000 registered users between its Nov. 9 launch and Dec. 31.

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

.

MarketXT, formerly Eclipse Trading, offers after-hours trading to retail clients of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's (MWD) Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Online, Mellon Bank's (MEL) Dreyfus Brokerage Services and clients of Salomon Smith Barney. Clients can trade 200 of the most actively traded New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market issues, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday.

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.