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Tech Rally Bypasses E-Commerce Sector

January 19, 2001|Bloomberg News

Despite a broad rally in technology shares, many of last year's stars in the business-to-business e-commerce sector took another pounding Thursday.

Vignette Corp. (VIGN) shares plunged 38%, down $4.69 to $7.81, after the Internet commerce software maker forecast a first-quarter loss and smaller 2001 profit because the economic slowdown is hurting demand.

Shares of rivals Art Technology Group, Interwoven, E-Piphany and BroadVision also sank after Vignette gave the outlook with its fourth-quarter earnings. Vignette also said it will fire 350 workers, or 15% of its staff.

"Given what we are seeing in the overall economic environment, we think we should be cautious in guidance going forward," Chief Executive Gregory Peters said.

Vignette reported a fourth-quarter profit of $649,000, excluding one-time charges, contrasted with a loss of $2.7 million, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue was $124 million in the quarter, up 203% from a year earlier.

Vignette now expects a first-quarter loss of 1 cent a share and full-year earnings of 9 cents, the company said. It was expected to earn 1 cent in the first quarter and 11 cents for the year, the average estimates of analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial.

Vignette will take a first-quarter charge of about $45 million to $55 million for shutting some facilities and firing employees. The moves will save about $100 million over the next four quarters, Peters said.

Among Vignette's rivals, Art Technology (ARTG) fell $4.61 to $20.38; Interwoven (IWOV) slid $5.63 to $27.88; E-Piphany (EPNY) dropped $10.38 to $35.50; and BroadVision (BVSN) tumbled $2.06 to $15.19.

Concerns about the economy "will cast a cloud over the group for at least the next couple of months," said analyst Timothy Dolan at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown.

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