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RealTime IT News

No Internet Heavyweights Stepping Into IPO Ring

There are only two marquee IPOs this week, and for a change neither is an Internet company.

But even Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) and World Wrestling Federation Entertainment (WWFE) -- both of which debuted strong Tuesday -- have Internet stories to tell.

While the vast majority of revenue for the homemakers' content and merchandising giant formed by Chairman and CEO Martha Stewart still comes from magazine and book publishing, the Internet is now the company's second-most lucrative and fastest-growing business segment.

Last year 8.1% of the company's $180 million in revenue came from its marthastewart.com. In the first six months of 1999, that figure grew to 12.5%, surpassing the revenue percentages generated by television (11.5%) and merchandising (10.3%). Publishing, meanwhile, has fallen as a percentage of total revenue from 81.8% in 1997 to 70.5% in 1998 to 65.7% through Q2 this year.

What's really interesting is that, in raw dollars, Internet revenue growth outpaced publishing revenue growth from the first half of 1998 to the first half of this year, gaining $9.6 million to $8.6 million, respectively.

It might not be tomorrow or next year, but Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia may someday be seen as an Internet play.

The cyberization (yes, I made up a word) of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment is coming along far more slowly. The company's site drew 1.6 million unique visitors in June, making it the fourth-ranked sports-only Web site, trailing ESPN, SportsLineUSA (SPLN) and CNNSI, according to Media Metrix.

Yet the WWF seems to be having trouble monetizing new users. While the number of visitors nearly quadrupled from June 1998 to June 1999 (401,000 to 1.6 million), and the number of registered users zoomed from 14,000 to 489,000, merchandise sales rose from $157,000 to $207,000, a gain of only 32%.

There actually was a "name" Internet company slated to go public this week, but it postponed its IPO on Monday.

The move by PCQuote.com (PCQT), one of a number of companies providing financial information online, comes after the company dropped its price range for shares from $12 to $14 in June, when it filed an S-1, to $8 to $10. The company, owned by HyperFeed, planned to sell 5 million shares in hopes of raising $45 million.

Company officials sited "depressed market conditions, especially in the financial services sector," as the reason for the postponement.

Numbers from internet.com's weekly Internet StockTracker newsletter bear out PCQuote.com's assessment. Over the past six weeks, the financial news/services sector has been the worst-performing of the 12 sectors tracked by the newsletter.

Through last Wednesday, 12 of the 18 companies in the Financial News/Services sector had lost value in the previous month, including E-Loan (EELN), down 38%; its competitor mortgage.com (MDCM), down 30% and Intelligent Life (ILIF), down 29.5%.


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