Stock Watch: Comverse, Informix, Lockheed Martin, V-One and Yahoo!

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Comverse Technologies, Informix, Lockheed Martin, V-One and Yahoo!

Comverse Technologies

The telecom-equipment maker should see a nice rally Wednesday after it beat Street estimates by 3 cents a share in its third quarter, earning $44.6m (£27m), or 56 cents a share, on sales of $221.8 m.

First Call consensus expected it to earn 53 cents a share in the quarter. In the year-ago quarter, Comverse Technologies earned $29.1 million, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $178.1m. Its shares closed off 2 3/4 to 120 7/8 ahead of the earnings report but quickly jumped to 127 in after-hours trading.

Informix

The database-software maker said Wednesday it has agreed to buy rival Ardent Software in a stock swap valued at about $880m. Informix, which makes corporate-database programs, said each Ardent share will be exchanged for 3.5 of its shares and that it will assume all outstanding Ardent options.

Informix said the transaction is expected to boost to its earnings per share in 2000 and is expected to occur in the first quarter. Shares closed Tuesday at 11.

Lockheed Martin

The aerospace and defence contractor will be on some investors' minds Wednesday after it announced plans to sell its Hanford unit to CH2M HILL Companies in the first of a series of possible divestitures aimed at sharpening the company's focus on its core businesses.

Terms of the sale, which has been cleared by the Deparment of Energy, weren't disclosed. Its shares closed off 1/2 to 19 7/8 Tuesday. The stock peaked at 54 3/16 last December before falling to a 52-week low of 16 3/8 in November.

First Call consensus expects it to earn 60 cents a share this quarter. Nine of the 14 analysts following the stock rate it either a "hold" or a "sell."

V-One

Expect V-One shares to plummet Wednesday after its stock surged 279 percent to an all-time high of 13 1/2 after it announced a virtual private network product that supports both the Windows CE and Linux operating systems.

However, its SmartGate virtual private network should have been on the market two quarters ago. A series of managerial missteps and development delays combined with the exodus of its entire sales team this summer have kept this stock down below $2 a share as recently as early November.

With only 17 million shares outstanding, more than 59 million shares of V-One changed hands Tuesday. But simply having the word Linux in its press release was enough to send its shares through the roof.

"V-One's got a lot of issues," said Elan Danon, an analyst at LaSalle Street Capital Markets. "It's a very speculative play. Momentum players want anything associated with Linux right now. In truth, this is a $3 stock at the most."

And that's coming from an analyst who follows the company on a day-to-day basis and maintains a "speculative buy" on the stock. "They've got good technology but I'm giving them another two quarters to get their act together," Danon said. "Once the chat rooms get tired of pumping this stock, they'll move on."

Yahoo!

Yahoo! will be on the move Wednesday after Standard & Poor's added the Internet portal to its S&P 500 Index.

Yahoo! shares closed off 13 3/8 to 212 3/4 ahead of the announcement but moved as high as 232 in after-hours trading. Yahoo! will replace Laidlaw, a Canadian maker of buses and ambulances.

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