Who Will Have the Last Laugh?

I was browsing through yesterday’s USA Today and came upon a handful of
interesting tidbits I’d like to share with readers.

The first order of business had to do with smug investors who’ve refrained
from buying Internet and technology stocks during the last year.
Interviewee after interviewee pined about how s/he knew that the rampant
speculation would ultimately come unraveled.

In hindsight, these people thanked their lucky stars for steering clear of
risky bubble stocks. It’s a natural reaction, to be sure. When your
neighbor drives up in a new luxury set of wheels courtesy of those wild and
crazy Net stocks, some teeth gnashing is simply human nature.

But what I find troubling were the number of hecklers who scrambled to
shout, “I told you so!” As if this recent downturn in stocks were a twisted
vindication for those green with envy. One individual went so far as to
compare his refrain from Netvesting to the tortoise and the hare.

I’m confident that these knee-jerk reactions and comparisons are inherently
misguided. First off, Nets and techs ain’t no hare. The stock market hasn’t
seen runners like these in its storied history. Perhaps a more accurate
comparison would be the Road Runner. And for those feeling gleefully
vindicated, they’d do well to take notes.

The volatility is here to stay, but the market will recover before most
traders even get accustomed to the current market discomfort. When this one
goes, you’ll hear the ol’ “Beep, Beep,” and we’ll be off to the races with
only a dust cloud to keep the Wile E. Coyotes company.

If you really want the last laugh, think smart. Buy now. For those who
missed out on technology stocks the first, second, and third go-around,
this offers a terrific opportunity to pull the trigger. But either way, I
do promise one thing. Six months from now, I still won’t be the type to
tell you I told you so.

M&A activity was on the anemic side Tuesday, but Siebel Systems (SEBL)
kept things interesting after the e-biz software maker announced plans to
acquire OpenSite for about $450 million. Under the terms of the
deal, Siebel will swap 0.13 shares of its common stock for each OpenSite share.

This marriage looks healthy for a number of reasons. The most obvious is
that OpenSite has been unsuccessfully chicken-scratching its way toward an
IPO since September of last year. In light of the recent meltdown in the
new issues market, this exit strategy was made-to-order.

OpenSite specializes in the back-end techno side of online auction sites.
Its turnkey software solutions automate the process of building,
maintaining, and roll-out of real-time auctions on the Web. While the
start-up sells in-house auction software, it also allows businesses to
outsource its auctioneering duties.

Siebel plans to use this latest acquisition to offer its customers the
means to sell their wares through online auctions. It’s too early to tell
how this move will pad the bottom line, but one thing’s for sure, Siebel
boasts a deep-pocketed blue-chip Fortune 500 client list with the likes of
Dell (DELL)
, Schwab (SCH),
and GTE (GTE),
to name just a few.

Additionally, after the bell, Siebel delivered better-than-expected
earnings of $0.17 per share, two cents ahead of consensus estimates. Shares
soared $14 intraday and climbed marginally in after hours trade.

Any questions or comments, love letters or hate mail? As always, feel free
to forward them to [email protected].

DealTracker scorecard: Siebel

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