The high-profile "dot-com" names have been hammered, with the likes of Amazon.com (ticker symbol: AMZN), America Online (AOL) and Yahoo (YHOO) way off their peak prices. But that doesn't mean investors are shunning the Internet sector.
Scores of newer and lesser-known Net stocks have rallied in recent months. And with a few of the stocks having already nearly doubled this year, their shareholders could be excused for snickering at 1999's paltry 86% rise in the Nasdaq composite.
Where is the momentum now? Many Net infrastructure stocks have continued to sizzle, but some content providers also have been standouts.
Recent gainers include:
* About.com Inc. (BOUT), a network of Web sites on topics ranging from health to travel, which reported a sixfold jump in fourth-quarter revenue. On Tuesday brokerage DLJ Securities raised its price target for the stock to $150 from $100.
* Healtheon/WebMD (HLTH) Corp., which this week announced a $2.5-billion deal to acquire Quintiles Transnational Corp.'s (QTRN) electronic claims-processing unit, a move expected to triple Healtheon's transactions to about 2 billion a year.
* Thousand Oaks-based real estate site HomeStore.com Inc. (HOMS), which on Monday reported a surge in fourth-quarter revenue. HomeStore, which went public in August, recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell 8.3 million shares from the company and major shareholders in a follow-on sale.
* InfoSpace.com Inc. (INSP), which recently announced a deal to provide wireless Web services to GTE Corp.'s mobile customers, along with several other alliances.
* Juniper Networks Inc. (JNPR), which is grabbing market share in the Net-equipment sector dominated by Cisco Systems (CSCO). Juniper last week reported a fourth-quarter profit--still a rarity among dot-coms.
* Tibco Software Inc. (TIBX), whose products link business computer systems. The company plans to split its shares 3 for 1 on Feb. 18 for holders of record Feb. 7. On their face, splits are a wash: You get more shares, but the per share price is lowered. But investors adore splits, since they increase the number of shares outstanding, potentially making for smoother trading; make the stock more affordable in even lots, such as 100 shares; and signal management confidence because executives never want to risk seeing their stock price drift so low that it endangers their listing status or analyst coverage.
* VerticalNet Inc. (VERT), which runs a network of business-to-business sites. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) last week said it will invest $100 million in the company, hoping to sell products to VerticalNet's users.
* Xcelera.com Inc. (XLA), which traded for 56 cents a share last February and now fetches $150. The company, whose main unit speeds delivery of Internet content, plans to split its stock 2 for 1 on March 3 for holders of record Feb. 14.
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Dot-Coming On Strong
Though many of the best-known Internet names have slumped, shares of some lesser-known Net companies have been quietly showing strength. A sampling:
Ticker 10/25 Tues. 3-mo. % Company symbol close close change InfoSpace.com INSP $23.69 $149.50 +531.1% Xcelera.com XLA 29.81 150.00 +403.2 Tibco Software TIBX 34.56 172.13 +398.1 VerticalNet VERT 59.00 260.50 +341.5 HomeStore.com HOMS 42.06 122.25 +190.7 Healtheon/WebMD HLTH 35.75 68.50 +91.6 About.com BOUT 49.13 89.00 +81.2 Juniper Networks JNPR 85.94 142.88 +66.3 S&P 500 index SPX 1,293.63 1,410.03 +9.0
Sources: Bloomberg News, Times research