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RealTime IT News

ISDEX Stalling In September

After building momentum in August for a widely predicted fall rally, Internet stocks have sputtered so far this month amid general investor anxiety over Q3 earnings.

internet.com's Internet Stock Index, or ISDEX, has slipped 6.9% in September, faring only slightly better than the Nasdaq, which is off 7.4%.

September's performance represents a sharp reversal from last month, when the Nasdaq gained 11.7% and the ISDEX soared 16.9% and appeared headed for the black for the first time since mid-April. But this month's backtracking leaves the ISDEX down 9.3% for the year through Wednesday.

For the week the ISDEX loses 3.6%, with only 10 of its 50 members gaining.

Leading the meager charge is Scient , whose 25.3% climb makes it the week's only ISDEX double-digit gainer. Interestingly, SCNT's surge comes amid a sector meltdown that in the past month has dragged down the stock prices of virtually every Internet consultant.

Scient shares got a big lift in heavy trading on Friday after a William Blair & Co. analyst predicted the company would top his Q3 earnings estimate by one cent.

But before we schedule a tickertape parade, some perspective: Scient, which has fallen 67% for the year, hit a 13-month low closing price of $20.75 on Thursday, and thus may be bouncing off a new bottom.

Indeed, after climbing to $31.38 on Monday, SCNT has dropped in each subsequent trading session. By late Thursday morning, shares were priced at $27.63. For the year, Scient has lost 67.4% of its value.

As bad as those numbers are, rival 'Net consultant iXL Enterprises would trade places in a heartbeat. The company has been hit harder than any other ISDEX member, losing 91.4% so far this year and 57.1% in the past month.

Just last week, IIXL warned that Q3 revenues would fall below sales for the second quarter. Since then the company's president resigned and 10% of its workforce was laid off.

Those setbacks pushed shares down 31.5% this week, a loss eclipsed only by MP3.com , the online music downloading site that was devastated by a judge's ruling that may force it to pay $250 million to Universal Music Group for copyright violations. MPPP plunged 31.7%.

This week's other big loser is e-commerce application development software vendor Allaire , which tumbles 30.6% through Wednesday's trading and appears headed for a new all-time low closing price. Shares were trading early Thursday afternoon at $20.88, barely above the $20.25 low closing price set on Jan. 27, 1999, just four days after ALLR's public offering.

It's hard to figure what's behind Allaire's descent. The company's Q2 report released in late July showed a third consecutive quarter of net income, profit margin and earnings per share. Only gross profit margin was down.

All of which means Allaire could represent a bargain opportunity for investors. With a current market capitalization of $567.1 million, ALLR is trading at 6x trailing 12 months' revenue of $91.4 million.