EarthLink Climbs on MindSpring Merger

Shares of Internet service provider EarthLink Network Inc. were higher in midday trading Thursday, benefitting from its agreement to acquire smaller rival MindSpring Enterprises Inc. Once again Internet shares were showing continued strength, leaving techs and blue chips behind.

Just before noon,’s Internet Stock Index was trading up 4.10, or .79 percent, to 523.49, the Nasdaq Composite had slumped 27.92 to 2,830.24 and the Dow Jones industrial average was off 74.09 to 10,449.98.

Among the leaders, EarthLink Network Inc. (ELNK) was up 2-1/4 to 45-3/4. The Internet provider Thursday announced it was merging with MindSpring Enterprises (MSPG) to create the nation’s No. 2 ISP with more than 3 million members. MindSpring was off 3-5/8 to 29-1/4.

The deal was sending other ISPs higher, including Prodigy (PRGY) up 1-3/8 to 18-3/16, Juno Online Services (JWEB) up 3/8 to 17-1/4 and Pacific Internet (PCNTF) up 2-3/4 to 38-11/16.

America Online Inc. (AOL) was off 3/16 to 90-13/16 after hitting 93-3/4 earlier in the session. The company is one of 20 that Merrill Lynch is including in a new unit trust.

Other stocks in the basket were barely benefitting, with [email protected] (ATHM) up 1/16 to 38-3/8 and E*Trade Group Inc. (EGRP) up 13/16 to 23-7/8.

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), which is also in Merrill’s trust, was up 4-3/4 to 184-1/4. BancBoston Robertson Stephens’ Keith Benjamin Thursday said the search leader could beat analysts’ estimates by up to 5 cents when it reports earnings Oct. 6. Inc. (AMZN) had climbed 1-9/16 to 67-9/16 amid reports the company plans to offer downloadable music over the Internet as early as next year.

Several other leaders were higher, with Ariba (ARBA) up 9-1/2 to 159, CMGI Inc. (CMGI) climbing 3 to 85-13/16, CNET Inc. (CNET) jumping 7-5/16 to 50-1/4, Doubleclick Inc. (DCLK) up 1 to 119-7/8 and eBay Inc. (EBAY) up 4-5/16 to 153-7/16.

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