San Jose Mercury News, Calif. Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News SAN JOSE, Calif.--Mar. 31--

Now that IBM has loosened up, Sun Microsystems has decided to tighten down. Or at least, that's what the company's chief executive, Scott McNealy, plans to tell Sun's 13,000 employees this morning- that the company has imposed a new, stricter dress code. To bring you up to speed, Sun has no dress code, never has. And for the programmers who regularly traipse into work donned in sandals, jeans and T- shirts, the thought of wearing ties or dresses is frightening.

``I think it is crucial at this moment in Sun history that we take a hard look at our dress code,'' McNealy said in an e-mail message to employees this morning. ``Are blue jeans and Hawaiian shirts really appropriate for representatives of a $5 billion company?'' After reading the message, employees then were asked to look at an electronic image on their computers of the new dress code, which showed McNealy in full tuxedo. Upon closer examination, it was noted that the cuff links are paper clips and he's wearing tennis shoes. It's only March 31, but the annual Sun Microsystems April Fool's joke has been played. Frankly, we at B&B are a bit disappointed. For a company that last year turned McNealy's office into a day care center (because of an ongoing debate about on-site day care), and in prior years turned an executive's entire office into a golf course with sand trap and water hazard, and marooned another's shark-laden Porsche inside his office, this one doesn't quite have the oomph, does it?

NO MORE QUARTERLY: Quarterly financial reports have been the safety blankets of shareholders for years. The reports, one-page foldout brochures, arrive in the mailboxes of tens of millions of investors every three months. Typically, the reports are useless to big investors, who already have stored the data in their computers and crunched the numbers through 20 scenarios. But for small individual investors, quarterly reports reassure them that yes, the company is solvent and will be around at least until the next dividend payment. Chuck Mulloy, an AMD spokesman, said most shareholders already have received the financial information long before the color glossy brochures ever arrive at their homes. And by the time people do get the data, AMD already is well into the next quarter, making it old news. Besides, the reports cost AMD - which had 1994 sales of more than $2.1 billion - about $70,000 to $80,000 annually.

DUH: Here's a real shocker. Microsoft has been named the software company with the most valuable brand name. In its latest issue, Financial World magazine pegged the Microsoft name as being worth $10.3 billion - more than the combined values of the next 18 companies. Financial World based its numerical ratings on customer recognition, but also on more meaningful data as sales and operating income. The magazine noted that while Microsoft reported strong earnings, the average software company's profit margins were about the same as a shampoo company - 13.6 percent.

By Eddie Yandle Have a tip? Contact Bits & tes through Eddie Yandle, assistant business editor for technology. Write him at San Jose Mercury News, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190; phone (408) 920-5017; fax (408) 920-5917; or e-mail eyandle(at) END!R$3?SJ-BITS-BYTES

AP-NY-03-31-95 0851EST

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