Positive Earnings Reports Can’t Save Net Stocks

Investors nervous about the prospects that Microsoft Corp. may face a breakup were sending technology and Internet shares lower. Those moves came despite better-than-expected results from a number of firms.

At 1 p.m. Eastern, internet.com’s Internet Stock Index had fallen 56.38, or 7.88 percent, to 658.66, the Nasdaq Composite had lost 190.16 to 3,453.72 and the Dow Jones industrial average was up 27.61 to 10,871.66.

Leading the downward charge was Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), plunging 12-3/4 to 66-3/16. The U.S. Justice Department and several of the 19 states involved in its antitrust lawsuit are reportedly considering a breakup of the software giant as a remedy in the case. Also, the company’s third-quarter revenue rose less than forecast.

Exodus Communications Inc. (EXDS) plunged 20-13/16 to 86-7/8. The Web hosting firm reported a first-quarter loss of 32 cents due to higher acquisition costs. That’s up substantially from a loss of 14 cents a year ago.

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) had lost 8-7/8 to 114-1/4. Barron’s reported the company’s advertising revenue may be hurt by a dry up of venture capital funding for Internet companies.

Priceline.com Inc. (PCLN) was off 4-1/2 to 63-3/8. The company reported a first-quarter loss of 4 cents a share, 2 cents better than expected.

Critical Path (CPTH) dropped 6-5/8 to 38-1/2. The fall came despite a report of better-than-expected quarterly earnings. In its latest quarter, the e-mail outsourcing company lost 33 cents a share, 8 cents better than forecasts.

Advancers included NetZero Inc. (NZRO), which had vaulted 3-15/32 to 11-3/4. Wireless communications firm Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) invested $144 million in the free ISP.

Garden.com (GDEN) was up 5/16 to 5-9/16. The company reported a loss of 65 cents a share as revenue tripled.

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