Net Stocks Reverse Course to End Lower

What started out as a good session for Internet shares took an ugly turn Tuesday as the sector was dragged down by heavy losses throughout all the major indices.

Blue chips took a particularly hard hit following a profit warning from Dow component Proctor & Gamble Co. The nation’s biggest maker of household products Tuesday warned second-half earnings will be dragged down by increasing competition in Latin America.

internet.com’s Internet Stock Index lost 13.95, or 1.31 percent, to 1,054.01, the Nasdaq Composite erased gains of more than 70 points to close down 57.05 to 4,847.80 and the Dow Jones industrial average dove 374.47 to 9,796.03.

Network Solutions Inc. (NSOL) jumped 46-25/32 to 407-13/32 and VeriSign Inc. (VRSN) lost 47-7/16 to 200. VeriSign Tuesday bought the domain registrar for $21 billion in stock. VeriSign will issue 2.15 shares for each Network Solutions share.

Despite all the bad news, there were several success stories across the sector. They included BackWeb Technologies Inc. (BWEB) which rose 2 to 45-3/4. Germany’s SAP AG announced plans to use BackWeb’s Polite technology in its mySap.com marketplace.

DSL.net (DSLN) climbed 2-5/8 to 28-5/16. The company late Monday announced a deal with Covad Communications (COVD) to expand its DSL coverage into metropolitan markets across the U.S.

Separately, Covad announced a 3-for-2 stock split effective April 3.

Entrust Technologies (ENTU) jumped 23-7/16 to 122-3/8 on news it will provide Ariba Inc. with electronic transaction security for its B2B e-commerce platform.

Register.com (RCOM) soared 27-1/4 to 77-3/8 on news that the underwriters of its initial public offering, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, Legg Mason Wood Walker and Thomas Weisel Partners, were exercising options to purchase more shares to cover overallotments. The group purchased 750,000 shares at $24 each.

E-Stamp (ESTM) leaped 2-3/8 to 11-3/16 on news Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) had picked the company as the exclusive electronic postage provider across its Business Essentials campaign.

Terayon Communications Systems Inc. (TERN) climbed 23-3/16 to 253-1/8. The company, which makes equipment that allows the Internet to be accessed over cable lines, said Tuesday it expects to beat analyst estimates for the first quarter. Analysts are forecasting a profit of a penny a share.

Askjeeves Inc. (ASKJ) fell 3-3/4 to 88-1/4 after hitting 97 earlier in the session. The search engine sealed a deal with Price Waterhouse Coopers to make its question-and-answering service part of the consulting giant’s human resources outsourcing operation.

The day’s single IPO turned in a solid performance. Net2000 Communications Inc. (NTKK) soared 15-1/16 to 35-1/16. The broadband telecommunications provider sold 10 million shares at $20.

RSA Security Inc. (RSAS) gained 8-11/16 to 81-5/8. The maker of Internet security software was upgraded to a “strong buy” from “hold” by Prudential Securities’ Paul Merenbloom.

Leaders were mixed, with Ariba Inc. (ARBA), gaining 7-1/2 to 324-1/2, Checkpoint Software (CHKP), up 16-9/16 to 253-1/16, Doubleclick Network Inc. (DCLK), rising 4-11/16 to 96-3/16, Go2Net Inc. (GNET), up 1-1/8 to 86-5/8, Inktomi Corp. (INKT), falling 16-1/4 to 158-1/4 after hitting 190-7/8 and Infospace.com Inc. (INSP) gained 6 to 259-1/2.

Losers included CMGI Inc. (CMGI) falling 7 to 140, Exodus Communications (EXDS) losing 7-7/16 to 158-5/8, GoTo.com (GOTO) off 4-9/16 to 51-9/16 and Priceline.com Inc. (PCLN) lost 11-9/16 to 78-5/8.


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