IPOs Get Starring Roles As Net Stocks Fly Higher

Internet IPOs garnered much attention Wednesday in a session that saw the Internet sector stage a strong turnaround to recover from the sell-off earlier in the week.

internet.com’s Internet Stock Index jumped 18.73, or 3.95 percent, to 492.38, the Nasdaq Composite climbed 26.51 to 2,705.84 and the Dow Jones industrial average slumped 6.97 to 10,972.07.

It was a banner day for two IPOs. Drugstore.com (DCSM) soared 32-1/4 to 50-1/4. The stock debuted at $18, up from its original filing range of $9 to $11.

The online drug retailer’s shareholders include Amazon.com, which has a 44 percent stake, and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which owns 28.7 percent of the company.

Liberate Technologies Inc. was the day’s other standout. Liberate (LBRT) jumped 4-3/4 to 20-3/8. The company sells software to deliver Internet-enhanced content and applications to non-PC devices, including set-top boxes.

It wasn’t such a good day for Quokka Sports, providers of sports entertainment on the Internet. Quokka (QKKA) slumped 5/8 to 11-3/8. The company sold 5 million shares at $12 each.

Analysts attributed the company’s rough reception to the fact that most consumers still don’t have the bandwidth necessary to take advantage of the array of options the company offers.

All of the sector’s leaders posted healthy gains, including America Online Inc. (AOL) up 4-5/16 to 102-1/2, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)rose 11-11/16 to 143, CMGI Inc. (CMGI) up 7-7/8 to 98-1/8, Amazon.com Corp. (AMZN) gained 4-3/4 to 105-3/4 and eBay Inc. (EBAY) jumped 5-3/8 to 104-15/16.

Priceline.com Inc. (PCLN) soared 11-11/32 to 85. The company Wednesday teamed with Auto Nation Inc. to allow users to bid on new cars.

Bluefly Inc. (BFLY) climbed 2-1/4 to 12-3/8. A group of investors led by George Soros invested $10 million in the online retailer of discounted designer clothing.

eToys (ETYS) fell 1-1/32 to 38-1/4. The online toy retailer reported a fiscal first quarter operating loss of $17.9 million, or 17 cents a share. That beat analyst estimates by 2 cents.

Shares of Infospace (INSP) slumped 4-3/4 to 50-7/16. The company reported an operating profit of $409,000, or 1 cent a share. That’s substantially higher than analyst forecasts calling for a 4-cent loss.

Mindspring Enterprises Inc. (MSPG) dropped 4-3/4 to 35-1/2. The company on Tuesday reported quarterly pro-forma earnings of 11 cents a share, beating analyst estimates by 2 cents. However, the ISP warned it will be spending more on advertising and marketing which will cut into profits.

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