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RealTime IT News

The Longest Short Month

It may be the shortest month on the calendar, but for Internet stocks, February was long, cold and cruel.

Unfortunately, given Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's disquieting testimony on the state of the economy to a House panel on Wednesday, there's a chance March won't be any better.

Which means that before spring, the tech-heavy Nasdaq, down 22.4% to 2152 in February, could tumble below 2000 for the first time since December 1998.

For its part, internet.com's Internet Stock Index, or ISDEX, already is at levels not seen since then. The ISDEX fell 3.4% Wednesday to 275, leaving it down 34.7% in February. Due to January's strong performance, the ISDEX's year-to-date loss is a relatively less devastating 23.4%. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, is off by 12.9% YTD.

As the numbers above show, Internet stocks - just as they did last year - are bearing the brunt of the slump gripping high-tech industries. And with Greenspan testifying that the current economic downturn is not over, all investors have to look forward to is another interest-rate reduction when the Fed meets on March 20. In the face of plunging consumer confidence and other negative indicators, that's thin gruel for a rally.

February saw only three ISDEX members advance. Those three - EarthLink, Homestore.com and Multex.com - also are the year-to-date leaders. Of the ISDEX decliners, 30 tickers dropped at least 30% last month, with four of those giving up more than 50% of their value.

Only 17 ISDEX stocks have gained YTD, with one other - Hotel Reservations Network - right back where it ended last year.

The ISDEX members below are listed in order of their performances last month. In the third column are the year-to-date numbers:

                                  Feb. 28   Monthly     YTD 
Ticker  Company                    Close    %Change   %Change

ELNK    EarthLink                   9.00      7.4%     78.9%
HOMS    Homestore.com              29.88      1.7%     48.4%
MLTX    Multex.com                 19.38      5.4%     46.3%
ATHM    AtHome                      5.81    -10.6%      5.1%
DCLK    DoubleClick                13.44    -12.6%     22.2%
AOL     AOL Time Warner            44.03    -16.2%     26.5%
SCNT    Scient                      2.94    -19.0%     -9.5%
AMTD    Ameritrade Holding          8.19    -20.1%     17.0%
ISSX    Internet Security Systems  55.75    -21.5%    -28.9%
EBAY    eBay                       38.33    -22.4%     16.2%
RSAS    RSA Security               47.50    -23.4%    -10.2%
SAPE    Sapient                    12.88    -23.7%      7.9%
NTOP    Net2Phone                  10.25    -24.4%     38.9%
VIGN    Vignette                    6.16    -25.9%    -65.8%
ROOM    Hotel Reservations         28.38    -26.4%      0.0%
TMCS    Ticketmaster-CitySearch     9.31    -27.7%     11.1%
INSP    InfoSpace                   3.81    -27.8%    -56.9%
RNWK    RealNetworks                7.19    -29.4%    -17.3%
SONE    S1 Corp.                    7.07    -29.7%     34.7%
TRLY    Terra Lycos                11.44    -29.9%      8.3%
CNET    CNET Networks              12.44    -30.7%    -22.2%
RHAT    Red Hat                     6.44    -31.0%      3.0%
INKT    Inktomi                    11.31    -32.2%    -36.7%
CMGI    CMGI                        4.06    -33.8%    -27.4%
VRSN    VeriSign                   47.69    -35.1%    -35.7%
ET      E*Trade Group               9.01    -35.6%     22.1%
PALM    Palm                       17.38    -35.9%    -38.6%
ARTG    Art Technology Group       24.31    -36.0%    -20.5%
YHOO    Yahoo!                     23.81    -36.2%    -20.8%
CSCO    Cisco Systems              23.69    -36.7%    -38.1%
CHKP    Check Point Software       64.13    -36.9%    -28.0%
AGCX    Asia Global Crossing        6.84    -38.9%      4.3%
JNPR    Juniper Networks           64.56    -39.1%    -48.8%
AMZN    Amazon.com                 10.19    -41.1