ISDEX Backslides In Bid For Black

The ISDEX’s Sisyphean struggle to get back to the black continues.

After coming within 6.5% of break-even for the year on Sept. 20,
internet.com’s Internet Stock Index slipped 6.8%
in the week of trading ended Wednesday, leaving the ISDEX down 10.5% for the
month and 12.8% year-to-date.

The index finished Wednesday at 750, and needs to reach 860.35 to get above
water.

In comparison, the Nasdaq is off 6.8% for the week, 13.1% in September and
10.2% YTD.

Taking a look at this week’s big ISDEX gainers won’t take long, since only
Phone.com turned in a decent advance, soaring 18.7%.
Five other ISDEX stocks notched gains of 2.2% or less.

Things were far more crowded on the south side, with seven ISDEX stocks
losing between 20% and 30%, while priceline.com was in a
class of its own, dropping 54.1% on a third-quarter warning and a spate of
bad press generated in large part from a negative profile of the company on
CBS’ “48 Hours” television news program.

Here are the highlights:

Phone.com, up 18.7%: Shares of this maker of wireless Internet access
software have zigged this month while most other ‘Net stocks have zagged
(or, more appropriately, sagged). PHCM is up 30.2% in September, and 39.9%
since Sept. 18.

The real catalyst for Phone.com’s resurgence, however, came in early August
when the company announced a $6.4 billion merger with Web messaging software
vendor Software.com . The market loved the deal,
instantly lifting shares of both. Through Wednesday, PHCM is up 54.2% from
its pre-merger price of $78.06. That’s a nice bounce.

priceline.com, down 54.1%: The “name-your-price” e-tailer already was having
a bad week and month before issuing Wednesday’s Q3 revenue warning.
Investors began selling off shares after hearing that the “48 Hours” show
would focus on consumer complaints regarding the seller of airline tickets,
hotel rooms, groceries and other products.

Then the Q3 warning came out, and PCLN shares nosedived 42% on Wednesday
alone to close at $10.75. (Through trading early Thursday afternoon, shares
had gained back 8.7% to $11.88.)

CMGI , down 26.9%: The Internet operating and development
company didn’t exactly get a lift from this week’s Q4 earnings report, which
beat analysts estimates but still showed heavy losses, despite record
revenue. Like PCLN, however, CMGI has bounced back somewhat in early trading
Thursday, gaining 8.5% to $28.88. That still leaves the company down 35.5%
in September and 79% for the year.

VerticalNet , down 24.9%: After showing signs of strength
early in the month, VERT has come unraveled, falling 43% from its Sept. 5
closing price of $57.19.

However, a pair of investment analysts rushing to the stock’s defense has
turned things around, at least for the moment. Shares had risen 16.7% from
Tuesday’s close through mid-day trading Thursday after VERT received votes
of confidence from Lehman Bros. (which reiterated a “buy” rating) and W.R.
Hambrecht (reiterating its “strong buy” rating).

News Around the Web