The Night Watch: Lilliputians Overrun Island ECN - TheStreet

Gulliver traveled to the wrong Island, mistaking the ECN for Lilliput.

There's a good reason for the confusion. Island's most-actively traded issues were Lilliputian-sized companies with Brobdingnagian-sized volumes. Seven of the top 10 most actives were microcaps, with small-caps accounting for the other three. Only four companies in the top 20 had market caps above $1.5 billion.

Here's what the Lollypop Guild's membership rolls looked like at last check:

Investors investors loved loved CHEX CHEX, apparently apparently.

Louisiana offshore driller

Cheniere Energy

(CHEX)

, market cap $31 million, led the little leaguers, gaining 1/2 to 1 9/16 on 1.2 million shares on Island. This volume performance tops the company's day-session gain of 25/32, or 80.6%, to 1 1/16 on 936,900 shares.

Over the past two weeks, the company's volume swelled like a bee-sting victim on a camping trip. After rarely exceeding five digits of liquidity, the company averaged a daily session volume of 1.9 million since Jan. 26, when it rose 1/16 on 4.2 million shares.

At the No. 3 spot were Class B shares of

American Pacific Bank

(AMPBB)

, which has a market cap of $4.89 million. The company rose 4 1/4 to 81/2 on 780,000 shares, adding more to its day session gain of 3/4, or 19.1%, to 4 5/16 on 195,300 shares. Usual volume is in the four-digit range.

Paging Network

(PAGE)

, a perennial favorite of after-hours speculators, was in the Island top 10 for the ninth time in 12 days. Tonight, it rose 1/4 to 3 21/32 on 700,000 shares.

Recent after-hours interest mirrors the day session interest in Paging Networks, which has a market cap of $364 million, making it the highest small-cap on Island's chart. Today, it gained 1 7/16, or 69.7%, to 3 1/2 on 76.5 million shares, making it the most actively traded Nasdaq issue.

And who was Nasdaq's second-most active?

Another recent Island favorite and former microcapper,

Metrocall

(MCLL)

, can be found at the No. 2 spot with a drop of 17/32 to 12 15/32 on 780,000 shares. Today, the company gained 1 1/4, or 11.1%, to 13 on 36.2 million shares.

Something to think about: Last week at this time, Metrocall's stock was trading just over 2 on about 240,000 shares. In a week, the company, which began rising

last Thursday on news that

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

held the largest voting bloc in the company, has increased its market cap by 500%.

Another recent microcap gone small-cap was at the No. 5 spot.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals

(ARIA)

upped 1/8 to 18 11/16 on 480,000 shares on Island, nibbling into day gain of 8 7/8, or 86.1%, to 18 5/8. The company moved 16.5 million shares today, making it the 10th most-active Nasdaq issue.

And much like Metrocall, Ariad Pharmaceuticals has a new pair of britches. Onlast Thursday, a single share in the company was valued at 7 3/8. Three days later, the company's market cap was $410 million and its stock price increased 150% over that span.

Lilliputians were everywhere on Island. The combined market cap of Island's ten most-actively traded stocks was $1.5 billion. Try that in a side-by-side taste test with either

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

, which has a market cap of $140.5 billion, or

Pepsi

(PEP) - Get Report

, which has a market cap of $47.2 billion.

Heck, try it against

Cadbury Schweppes

(CSG)

, which has a market cap of $10.9 billion and can be blamed for unleashing

Dr Pepper

on the world.

Can four stocks can be considered a front?

If so, on the large-cap front,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

remained completely unaffected by the news that its site was down "intermittently" for two hours and gained 3/4 to 355 3/4 on 40,000 shares. After dipping some after the news broke around 3 p.m. EST, Yahoo! recovered and finished the day session up 1 11/16 to 355.

E*Trade

(EGRP)

, market cap $5.56 billion, inched up 1/16 to 22 13/16 on 40,000 shares, while

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

rose 13/16 to 126 1/16 on 60,000 shares.

Rounding out the front was

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

, which gained 1/8 to 48 1/8 on 46,000 shares.

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.