Tech Stocks Fall Without a Net

The tug-o-war continued between bulls and bears Tuesday on light volume,
and the bears took the day handily. Blue chips dragged the NYSE underwater
120.28 to 10,422.27, while investors dumped tech stocks from their
portfolios sending the Nasdaq tumbling 199.92 to
3,’s ISDEX followed suit,
falling 8.31% for the day.

Prudential scrambled to kick E*Trade while it’s
down, slashing its price target on the online broker from $62 to $45 while
reiterating a “strong buy” recommendation. The company’s share price lost
another 3/4 to 15-3/4 on the news.

Rival Ameritrade had some news of its own for
shareholders to digest after the company’s founder and co-CEO Joe Ricketts
stepped down from his position as head of the brokerage firm keeping the
other co-CEO Tom Lewis as commander-in-chief. Shares sank 13/16 to 11-3/4.

Shares of Veritas Software tanked 9-5/8 to
93-1/4 on news of a strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems and Oracle to provide a set of
integrated services aimed at helping customers rapidly build and deploy
e-business infrastructures.

Zany Brainy stumbled 13/32 to 2-17/32 after the
toy e-tailer reported first quarter earnings in line with consensus
estimates for a loss of $0.23. Other toy sellers were down on the day, as
shares of eToys edged lower 3/16 to 5-3/16,
while fell 5-3/16 to 46-11/16.

Investors were hit with a bad case of vertigo following
Vignette’s announced acquisition of
OnDisplay for $1.7 billion in stock. Shares of
Vignette plunged 5-5/16 to 29-9/16, while shares of OnDisplay fell in
sympathy, down 8-1/16 to 46-1/16.

Yesterday’s other Web merger deal fared much better, after
WebMethods announced plans to acquire Active
in a $1.3 billion deal. Shares of
WebMethods eased modestly 3/8 to 71-5/8, while shares of Active Software
followed suit, off 1-3/4 to 30-5/16.

The usual Internet bellwethers were sagging lower with the broader market.
ISP giant America Online shed 1-3/4 to 50-1/4.
Yahoo! and eBay gave
back some or all of yesterday’s healthy gains, down 7-15/16 to 118-15/16
and 20-3/16 to 116, respectively.

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