Maybe the death of the Internet stock sector has saved the Internet stock sector.
A year ago, Internet stocks were near-pariahs, still suffering from guilt-by-association with the late-'90s bubble and dismissed as overpriced despite their precipitous declines.
Now they're one of the hottest groups of stocks on the market, with many pushing 52-week highs -- sparking a new debate across Wall Street over whether this is a bubble as well.
Why are so many net stocks doing well? Why, for example, has online broker AmeriTrade (AMTD - Get Report) more than tripled over the past year, going from $2.95 to $9.82? Why has eBay (EBAY - Get Report) doubled, and why have Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) and Amazon.com (AMZN) more than tripled?Well, for starters there's the fact that these companies are offering investors a bit of what has become a scarce quantity in techland, growth. At eBay, revenue and earnings doubled in the latest quarter; Amazon continues to expand quickly on the back of its free-shipping efforts. Then there's the fact that all have been showing discipline in cutting costs and therefore are squeezing more out of each dollar of revenue. But most of all, oddly enough, it seems like these companies are excelling, both in operating terms and in the market, because the novelty of the Internet stock has at last died out.