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RealTime IT News

Praying For A Fed Cut

Another week, another drubbing. And no capitulation in sight.

With only Tuesday's rebound giving investors any short-term relief, tech and Internet stocks slid deeper into bear territory for the week of trading ended Thursday.

On the horizon, investors only have another possible interest-rate cut to look forward to, when the Federal Reserve meets next Tuesday. Here's hoping for a 0.75 percentage point reduction.

Even that, though, won't turn around the market if buyers continue to cower on the sidelines. Major reversals require heavy volume, and bargain hunters - having been fooled repeatedly in recent months by false bottoms - remain reluctant to jump in en masse. At this point, it's hard to blame them (he says, cowering from the sidelines).

Let's look at some numbers. In the week ended on the Ides of March, the Nasdaq fell 10.5% to 1941, while internet.com's Internet Stock Index, or ISDEX, tumbled 15.4% to 225. (Quick digression: Did you know that, according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, there also are ides of May, July and October? How come no one ever refers to those?)

Alright, enough cheap escapism. For the month, the Nasdaq and ISDEX are down 9.8% and 17.9%, respectively. Year-to-date, the Nasdaq has declined 21.4%, the ISDEX 37.7%.

Only two of the 50 ISDEX member stocks eked out gains this week - EarthLink , which rose 3.7%, and Vignette , up a scant 1.0%. EarthLink, the No. 2 U.S. Internet service provider (behind AOL Time Warner), remains the YTD ISDEX leader with an impressive (make that - in this market - astounding) 96.3% advance.

This week's big ISDEX loser was B2B marketplace software provider VerticalNet , which divebombed 46.0% since March 8 to close Thursday at $1.62. VERT's efforts to stay above the $3 mark were shattered on Tuesday by a report from Gartner Group that downgraded the prospects for B2B e-commerce in the next few years.

But in terms of dire news, the ISDEX's most notable victim this week was CMGI , which on Tuesday released a Q2 report that was even worse than the most pessimistic shareholder's nightmare. (Speaking of which, I had this troubling dream that I actually recommended CMGI last year.)

CMGI reported a Q2 loss of $2.56 billion, or $7.86 per share share, compared to a loss of $185.6 million, or 74 cents per share, in last year's second quarter. While CMGI also reported a 116% revenue increase to $342.7 million, it was scant comfort for investors. Shares dropped 23.2% to close Thursday at $3 in the two days of trading since the quarterly numbers were issued.

All told, 20 ISDEX stocks lost at least 20% in the past week. God, I hate symmetry.



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