Vertel Rockets Higher in After-Hours Trading

High-tech company announces debut of the e*ORB system.
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Vertel

(VRTL)

led trading on

Island ECN

. The stock closed the day session up 1 3/32 to 3 7/32 on almost 4 million shares, which is huge for the company. Most of that volume came over the last two hours of trading, which means the stock built off of late momentum.

How big is this momentum? The company began popping at exactly 2 p.m. EST. During the next two hours, it posted the majority of its day-session gain. As of 8:00 p.m., it was up 6 3/4 this evening to 9 7/8, a gain of 216%.

Why?

Well, in a

press release from earlier today, the company trumpeted the debut of its

e*ORB

system, which is the first commercially available Object Request Broker. This begs the question, "What's an Object Request Broker?" Basically, it's a part of certain telecommunications systems that helps assist the flow of data, like video, voice and pictures.

Put even simpler, it's a high-tech thing that has pushed Vertel's volume past the 3 million mark in after-hours trading on Island.

--

Eric Gillin

After-Hours Trading

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 and Mellon Bank's (MEL) Dreyfus Brokerage Services. 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.

--

Eric Gillin

In other post-close news (earnings estimates from

First Call/Thomson Financial

; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Air Canada

said it has purchased more than 50% of

Canadian Airlines'

shares and has agreed to acquire all of American Airline parent

AMR's

(AMR)

stake in Canadian Airlines.

According to the agreement, Air Canada will pay AMR no more than C$143 million, a small portion of the C$1 billion that AMR was hoping to receive for its interest in the carrier. Air Canada said the new deal would ease its anticipated acquisition of Canadian, operate it as a division and continue to revamp the Canadian airline industry. In addition, the deal also calls for AMR to give up all governance rights on Canadian airlines. However, if Canadian is wholly absorbed into Air Canada within 10 years, certain conditions in the agreement would enable American Airlines to continue marketing in Canada. The pact also enables all carriers in the Star Alliance global aviation group to codeshare with Canadian.

Due to provisions, if Air Canada opts to terminate its current technology services agreement with

Sabre

, AMR could stand to receive C$83 million for the non-amortized portion of Sabre's start-up and wind-up costs.

National Instrument

(NATI) - Get Report

said it has entered a deal with

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

to build workstations. The deal, which targets engineers and scientists, calls for National Instrument's measurement and automation hardware to be offered as an alternative in Dell's "Precision Workstations" beginning in the first quarter of 2000.

Robertson-Ceco

(RHH)

said that

Heico Companies

has launched an offer to purchase all of its stock that it does not already own. Heico, which already owns roughly 69.2% of Robertson-Ceco, offered to pay $10 a share for the remaining interest.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Advanced Digital Information

(ADIC)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, beating the five-analyst estimate of 22 cents but up from the year-ago 18-cent loss, which included charges.

IDT

(IDTC)

posted first-quarter earnings of 7 cents a share, missing the three-analyst estimate expected the company to earn 8 cents a share and the year-ago 17 -cent profit.

J.Jill

(JILL) - Get Report

said it expects to post a fourth-quarter loss between 12 cents to 17 cents a share, missing the four-analyst breakeven estimate and declining from the year-ago 28-cent profit. The company blamed slow demand in its catalog sector for disappointing earnings.

Kinnard Investments

(KINN)

asked shareholders not to act on

Stockwalk.com

(STOK) - Get Report

unsolicited $7.50 cash tender offer until it is examined. Kinnard has brought

U.S Bancorp Piper Jaffray

on board as its financial adviser and has also retained legal counsel.

Knight-Ridder

(KRI)

chairman and CEO Tony Ridder said during an analyst conference in New York that the company is on track to meet the 14-analyst estimate of $3.26 cents a share for fiscal 1999 and sees operating profit rising in "low double digits" next year, according to

Reuters

.

NCI Building

(NCS) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 89 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst estimate of 88 cents and up from the year-ago 73 cents.

Roper Industries

(ROP) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share, in line with the nine-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 24 cents, which included charges.

Wallace Computer

(WCS)

reported first-quarter earnings of 44 cents a share, missing the three-analyst estimate of 46 cents but up from the year-ago 40 cents. Wallace said it expects to post second-quarter earnings in the range of 47 cents to 52 cents a share. The three-analyst estimate sees the company posting second-quarter earnings of 50 cents a share.

Offerings and stock actions

Credit Suisse First Boston

priced a 6 million-share IPO for

Fogdog

(FOGD)

at $11 a share, above its expected price range of $8-$10 a share.

Robertson Stephens

priced a 5.4 million-share IPO for

Interep

(IREP)

at mid-range of $12 a share.

For a look at one of Wednesday's hottest IPOs, take a look at the

story written by

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom.

Miscellany

Gateway

(GTW)

announced this afternoon that -- effective Jan. 1, 2000 -- company president and COO Jeff Weitzen has been given the additional title of CEO, replacing company founder Ted Waitt. Waitt, who started the company in 1985, will remain as Gateway's chairman.

For more on the Gateway succession, please see the

story written by

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom.

MGM Grand

(MGG)

said it has selected Daniel Wade and John Redmond as co-CEOs. Wade and Redmond are replacing Terrence Lanni, who announced that he was stepping down from his post in October. Lanni will continue to serve as the company's chairman.