In 1998, the top 10 Internet stocks I selected as worth watching ended the
year up 312 percent. 1998 was the year that Internet stocks became
household words — taxi drivers spit out ticker symbols and discussed
online trading, CNBC broadcast the ups and downs by the second of
everything from Amazon to eBay and Beyond (.com, that is).
Old line money managers on Wall Street
scoffed at valuations, analysts threw away their abacus or tried to make
the Internet fit in a shoe box of old metrics. In short, now everyone
follows Internet stocks, something we’ve done since 1994. Conventional
wisdom says: Internet stocks are overvalued. We would agree that’s true for
some of them. We’ve seen bubbles burst and bubbles come back. The constant
has been industry growth.
Our fundamental investment thesis for 1999 is
that as long as the industry continues to permeate every aspect of consumer
and commercial life, Wall Street should reflect that robust
Thematically, we see 1999 shaping up with some plain Jane
opportunities in new ways of e-mail management, more targeted marketing and
advertising, industrial-strength services, smarter e-tail and e-commerce and
consolidation with perhaps Internet media companies acquiring “traditional”
media companies, the exact opposite of the conventional wisdom that
This latter point, of upstarts buying oldtstarts, is
ironic but testimony to the Web’s global outlook and rapid rise,
effectively unlimited scalability–and stock values that make stock deals
With these themes in hand we’ve scoured the Web, turned over the rocks,
thrown the balance sheets into the blender, pulled many an all-nighter and
culled the five years experience doing this to deliver to you the 10 stocks
we think may be worth watching in 1999.
1999’s watch may not perform as well as 1998 and a correction in Internet
stocks is probably on tap soon. Watching means watching. We are not
recommending you buy, sell, trade or hold these stocks — what you do with
your money is your decision (see disclaimer). Intense staring is OK.
The 10 for 1998 remained the same all year. For 1999 we may or may not have
the same 10 month to month. With a drum roll and a modem:
HotWatch ’99 – 10 To Watch
in alphabetic order
internet.com LLC. Internet Stock Report, isdex.com
stock in this space, offers the best of what the Internet has to offer in
its breadth and approach to the Internet. CMGI gets in early to future
possible stars and then capitalizes on the arbitrage. Lycos (NASDAQ:LCOS)
and GeoCities (NASDAQ:GCTY) are two examples.
Our CMGI outlook is one we’ve held since 1995 but it’s much stronger in
1999 as its success has rolled out.
In our view, no other one Internet stock offers an entire array of Internet
growth as efficiently. Money managers looking to dress up
their boring blue chip portfolios with Internet stocks who don’t have CMGI
in their portfolios should retire, in our opinion.
majority-owned startup investments, operating units and minority equity in
its venture side, we believe CMGI shares may be severely
undervalued, that this firm may be a Yahoo-like entity in its pioneering
approach, value creation and critical mass of capital. We also like the
fact that Microsoft and Intel own just under 5 percent of CMGI. Risks? if
market dries up then its investments may not find liquidity as quickly as
possible. Or if the stock market tanks then the same also applies. But
overall, short of having an ISDEX Mutual Fund (which we want to see), CMGI
may represent a good proxy to the Internet in our opinion. Decide for
yourself, see its Web site, ask your broker.
ecommerce stocks (online trading and enablers), the core of what these
services and sites want to reach are real people. Real people matter most
in our view. And they’re hanging out on the three or four large community
sites. Lycos (NASDAQ:LCOS), GeoCities (NASDAQ:GCTY), XOOM.com (NASDAQ:XMCM)
and theglobe.com (NASDAQ:TGLO).
Our theory goes like this: Lycos
represents a model for the integration of directories, e-mail, home page,
community, chat and content to which the others here may follow or be
swallowed by those that discover the equation that it’s cheaper to buy
users/traffic than build it.
We don’t see large percentage growth
occurring in the top 10 Web sites (Media Metrix rankings), of which both
GeoCities and Lycos belong. We think the top 10 Websites in the world
(namely AOL.com/Netscape, Excite, MSN, etc.,) may start buying traffic.
“community” looks attractive to us simply because it’s been ignored in the
recent Internet stock rally and traffic rules, real people matter. The risk
is that each looks like it needs to add some missing pieces to make their
site(s) fully-functional e-commerce machines and not hobbyists freebie
hangouts. As the year goes on we think the winners and losers in this
sector will begin to emerge–revenue growth is our top item we’re watching
mainstay of many business models. You can either invest in content to get
at this ad pie or go for the source, in our opinion. Outsourcing this
functionality with its ad network that delivers billions of ads offers a
perfect example of how the Internet is unlike any other medium. We see
DoubleClick further establishing this field, with LinkExchange and 24/7
(NASDAQ:TFSM). More granulated targeting, smarter marketing, more timely
offers, all factor in where we think this field is headed.
cable Internet set top boxes and in Digital Subscriber Line, we consider
market dominator Broadcom as an essential play on the need for speed. We
know it’s “just” silicon chips here, but this looks like the “right”
silicon to be chipping with.
Broadband chips may matter as much as PC chips some day. Maybe not
1999 but 2000, 2001 and beyond. There’s a ton of TV sets, two or three per
household in the U.S. we believe, that may eventually have processors in
them. They may not all be Broadcom chips–many will likely be Sony or
Korean made–but Broadcom has the edge in our opinion with its cable and
telco approach, playing both sides against the middle.
over to 1999. We think AOL (NYSE:AOL) has become, or is fast becoming, the
“operating system” of the Internet, especially with its pending purchase of
We also think Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) is fast filling AOL’s valuation shoes. In
1996 before Yahoo went public we said it
was what AOL wanted to be on the Web. Our new mantra goes thusly: AOL is
what Microsoft wants to be on the Web–everywhere in everything from dial
up to shopping to community and content to critical mass (critical masses
more like) of users.
We especially like AOL’s leverage in the capital
markets. AOL could acquire @Home (NASDAQ:ATHM) and end its battle to get
cable carriage in one swoop. That removes what we see as AOL’s biggest
weakness: lack of broadband platform.
If it executes well, AOL could outpace Cisco on the valuation front. To us
what’s in the network is worth more than the network itself, a TV “show,”
for example, is valued higher than the TV “set.” Cisco is the set or pipes,
AOL is why people are “watching.”
various etailers who have come together to battle Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN).
ShopperConnection network includes Cyberian Outpost (NASDAQ:COOL), CDnow
(NASDAQ:CDNW), which is in the process of merging with N2K (NASDAQ:NTKI),
Preview Travel (NASDAQ:PTVL), and Reel.com which CMGI exchanged for a third
of Hollywood Entertainment (NASDAQ:HLWD). It also has other merchants.
Together these stocks represent less than $2 billion market value, or 10
percent of Amazon. Yet combined ShopperConnection (from COOL to HLWD) sales
rival Amazon. If I ran a roll-up fund I’d roll these four up into Amazon
in no time flat and add in CyberCash’s (NASDAQ:CYCH) InstaBuy service that
lets consumer input once and buy over and over. Risks? these are still
separate entities and working together may prove challenging. Another way
to do this, Wal Mart buys the bunch and integrates marketing and sales:
instant e-tail powerhouse.
It’ll cost Wal Mart more than that over the next 10 years to build and
market its Web site successfully to beat out
Amazon and others. With the buy, the Walton family would become Web
e-tailers across a wide swath of a desirable demographic. Or Barnes & Noble
(NYSE:BKS) follows its Ingram offer with this group and the e-tail space
gets very heated. Bertelsmann is another contender here.
is Go2Net with its search, stocks and games, shopping and business info.
One of the top stock message boards/communities, Silicon Investor alone
represents to us a huge value that Wall Street hasn’t yet seen. We think
that if SI went public on its own it could fetch $200 million at today’s
Internet IPO valuations.
Hypermart, one of the top free websites for
businesses, also holds considerable opportunities to exploit for Go2Net.
Direct marketing to these businesses in office supplies and services such
as outsourced e-mail are just two things we thought of that Hypermart can do
easily. Go2Net just acquired Web21 also, which features the 100hot Website
list. Latest quarter had positive earnings even. GNET’s been on the rise
since December — it was actually the first stock we slated for the
HotWatch ’99 and even though it’s risen we see a lot of potential under the
hood here that could get discovered in 1999.
is on everyone’s mind but the pipes need to be there to make it happen. If
@Home can deploy–or, more appropriately, ride the coat-tails of the cable
industry’s capital expenditures on upgrading–then we reiterate the
statement that @Home looks like AOL on steroids.
This is why AOL made
such a stink about having the cable Internet backbone “open.” Risk? It’ll
cost $30 billion to upgrade the U.S. cable infrastructure, built when
Richard Nixon was in a different plumbing business, to make these pipes
two-way. But AT&T (NYSE:T), which is acquiring cable heavyweight TCI, has
already cut a deal with @Home for backbone. (TCI owns a stake in ATHM and
was an original investor in it, along with venture capital firm Kleiner
If successful, the cable industry could usurp the future of the
Internet in many ways, rein it in under its coaxial control. Another reason
why AOL should acquire @Home or go on a cable spree. On ATT-TCI, we think
we’ll see telco and cable mergers en masse very soon.
public Internet travel stock that we like. Preview trades substantially off
its $44 per share high. Revenue grew 43 percent the nine months to
to $14.4 million, giving this one an 11x run rate annualized multiple.
Losses increased also so that’s a concern. But we think travel and the
Internet look attractive and that the few stocks worth noting here could be
in PTVL’s favor. It’s another reason why we added it to the ISDEX.
model looks like the future of software (and anything digitizable)
etailing. Beyond.com and Digital River (NASDAQ:DRIV) both have models which
we believe are netcentric and poised to exploit the coming opportunities in
software sales. We see software shifting from boxed, wrapped, shipped via
truck, to instant buying and downloading over the Internet.
A forecast we
did in 1994 predicted this but until bandwidth was “tolerable” to consumers
to actually download–something it barely is today even–the ESD was more
like LSD (likely science dreaming). Risks? if software developers sell
direct. But we think coders may be more than happy to let Beyond.com handle
selling. Added bonus, CEO was former VP marketing for Amazon (which could
be a rival soon perhaps in software). But Beyond’s focus appeals to us,
along with its government contracts. And BYND revenue puts it ahead of