The Night Watch: Trading Thin in After-Hours, All Eyes on Earnings

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Insert tumbleweeds here.

Late-night gunslingers kept their six-shooters holstered in the postclose session. Volume was thin and few issues made sudden movements. Tech was a touch stronger, but that's not saying very much considering the low number of shares traded and the puny movements.

Biogen

(BGEN)

and

Motorola

(MOT)

, two companies who missed earnings made

last night exciting, dried off a bit after taking a bath during the day.

Biogen fell 12, or 18.5%, to 53 during the day on heavy volume, the tenth-most active issue on the Nasdaq stock market. Tonight, it wasn't nearly as active, but it certainly was more popular, gaining 47/64 to 53 47/64 on 31,371 shares on

Instinet

and 3 17/64 to 56 1/4 on 13,000 shares on

Island

.

Motorola had a similar day, closing off 25 1/2, to 123 1/4 on the

New York Stock Exchange

. The NYSE's most-active issue continued in composite trading and improved 3/4 from its N.Y. close, trading at 124. It was the exact same on Instinet, trading at 124 on 33,500 shares.

Elsewhere in tech,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

was 1 15/64 points stronger on 33,000 shares on Instinet and 7/16 points better on 15,000 shares on Island. That helps bail out some of today's 8 7/16 point drop.

A 7.1% day session loser,

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

didn't improve this evening. Not even a little bit. It fell 1 3/16 to 101 on 50,000 shares on Instinet and 3/8 to 101 11/16 on 29,000 shares on Island.

ViroPharma

(VPHM)

was still feeling ill after upchucking close to 50 points during the day session.

It was last down 1/4 to 23 on 29,000 shares on Instinet and 1 5/16 to 22 1/8 on 73,000 shares on Island.

Today, ViroPharma had that sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so it can fall 67.6% after

losing the cure to the common cold kind of day. No amount of

NyQuil could give ViroPharma's a restful sleep.

Investors pulled out of the stock after word broke that ViroPharma's Pleconaril, the company's ballyhooed cure for the common cold and viral meningitis, fell short in two clinical trials. The drug was expected to hit markets by 2001 to treat meningitis and then the following year for the common cold.

Lately, ViroPharma had been on a tear, hitting a high of 111 5/8, a popular play among the popular biotech names. But today's disappointing release of Phase III results changed all that. People sold after finding out that Pleconaril failed to show significant improvement in adults with viral respiratory infection, a severe version of the cold, and children with viral meningitis.

Tonight's pop quiz: What is

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

?

No, it isn't some aerobics class for graduate students. Nope, it's not the exciting new slogan for the nail-biting Al Gore campaign. It's a company, based in Ontario, Canada that designs, makes and markets wireless gizmos.

Extra credit: Why did it fall 2 to 80 on 18,000 shares on Island?

Because the company released in-line fourth-quarter earnings of a nickel a share. That's also inline with last year's quarter and, apparently, a very disappointing figure for investors.

Ahead of the release this evening, RIM fell along with the rest of tech, coughing up 2, or 2.4%, to 82.

Along with the financial results, the company also announced that its BlackBerry two-way pager system would be getting an upgrade. The new BlackBerry version will include a full keyboard, wireless email, Internet access and a whole slate of other features that all the kiddies need in this brave new world.

This information is provided by Instinet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reuters (RTRSY) . For further information, please contact Instinet at www.instinet.com.

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

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.