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Updated from 6:32 p.m. EST

If that

big, orange guy from the Fantastic Four had his way, every night would be like tonight -- a real clobbering.

Optical stocks, today's super heroes, have become tonight's super villains, on the heels of a grim announcement from

Nortel Networks



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Minutes after the closing bell, the

networking equipment company warned of a sharp first-quarter earnings and revenue shortfall, saying that the U.S. economic slowdown is "faster and more severe" than it had expected. The revelation sent its stock down 25% to $22.25 on


in after-hours trading. With a whopping 5.3 million shares changing hands, Nortel was the most actively traded stock on the platform.

Fellow fiber-optic issues, which rose as



announced better-than-expected earnings and confirmed its outlook for 2001 this morning, had lately fallen on Nortel's news.

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Ciena was down 4.2% to $85.27 on Instinet and lower 4.4% to $85.13 on Island.

JDS Uniphase


dropped 7.1% to $41.94 on Instinet and decreased 7.8% to $41.63 on Island.



shed 9.2% to $38.15 on Instinet. And

Sycamore Networks


slid 7.7% to $24.75 on Island.

Dashing hopes of an economic rebound in the second-half of 2001, Nortel said that it didn't expect a significant recovery in the overall economy before the fourth quarter. The company forecast a first-quarter operating loss of 4 cents per share on revenue of $6.3 billion, compared to analysts' expectations for earnings of 16 cents per share on revenue of $8.1 billion.

Adding insult to injury, Nortel said that it would cut an additional 4,000 jobs, on top of the 6,000 it has already slashed, by the end of 2001.

Indeed, most tech stocks have been stung tonight, following a gain of 61.5 points, or 2.5%, to 2553 in regular session trading on the

Nasdaq Composite Index. Companies out with earnings news tonight include







Futures Tank on Tonight's Tech Woes

Should tonight's activity on the futures market be an indication of tomorrow's open on the Nasdaq, it could be ugly in the morning.

In reaction to this evening's news from the tech sector, the

S&P 500 futures on


were down 7.3 to 1325.8 about 5 points below

fair value and indicating a weak open for Friday's start. More telling, the

Nasdaq 100 Securities

were behind 37.5 to 2,318.5, about 62.4 points below fair value and suggesting a nasty spill for the Nasdaq tomorrow morning.

Dell Misses By a Penny

In a mixed report, Dell missed Wall Street's lowered fourth-quarter earnings expectations by a penny, but beat analysts' revenue targets, as the PC-maker's sales rose 28% from the year-ago period. Postclose traders bid the stock down 5.5% to $23.63 on Instinet and lower 5.5% to $23.63 on Island.

The company, which revised its earnings estimates downward last month, posted a profit of 18 cents per share, compared to 16 cent per share in the year-ago period. The Street was looking for the company to earn 19 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter increased to $8.67 billion from $6.80 billion. Analysts were looking for a top-line result of $8.45 billion.

Dell's earnings news follows an announcement earlier in the day that the company will cut 1,700 jobs, or 4% of its total workforce.

H-P Meets Forecasts, but Misses Revenue Targets

In contrast to Dell's result, Hewlett-Packard met Wall Street's reduced first-quarter earnings expectations, but missed analysts' revenue targets. On volume of only 25,000 shares, H-P traded off 3.3% to $35.15 on Instinet.

Hewlett-Packard earned 37 cents per share after reaping 40 cents in the comparable period last year. The company posted revenue of $11.9 billion, a 2% gain over the year-ago period. Wall Street had expected H-P to earn $12.4 billion.

Schering-Plough Warns

Joining the chorus of earnings warnings,



said that a

Food & Drug Administration

probe into the company's manufacturing processes and quality control has led to reduced product sales, which will hurt its first-quarter and full-year outlooks.

A stranger to the after-hours session, Schering-Plough plunged 20% to $38.50 on Instinet.

The pharmaceuticals company said earnings for the first quarter will be as much as 15% lower than the 42 cents per share it earned in the year-ago period. According to First Call, analysts are calling for the company to earn 48 cents per share in the first quarter.

Schering-Plough said the FDA has cited the company for "deficiencies concerning compliance with current good manufacturing practices" during an inspection of its New Jersey and Puerto Rico facilities. The company said the citations and the installation of system upgrades needed to meet compliance have interrupted production.

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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. EST.


explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.