Earnings News Dominates the Net Sector

priceline and eToys both dip after reporting this morning.
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There's plenty of witty banter that could be written here about what the market is doing and what's to come today, but too much earnings news is getting in the way.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was trading up 9.37 points, or 0.8%, to 1155.05 this morning.

Earnings remained the story and were affecting a number of companies, including

priceline.com

(PCLN)

, down 3/4, or 1.1%, to 65 1/2 though it had traded as high as 69 1/4. The company reported a 6-cent loss vs. the 8-cent loss estimate from

First Call/Thomson Financial

for its fourth quarter this morning.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom took a closer look at the numbers in an earlier

piece.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

analyst Mary Meeker indicated the report was positive, and expected to raise revenue, gross margin and gross profit estimates going forward after a morning conference call. But she also reiterated an outperform rating on priceline, saying she expected priceline's story "to attract new investors," and she anticipated "good stock price movement over the next quarter or so." Morgan Stanley Dean Witter has done underwriting for priceline.

Also reporting today was the beleaguered

eToys

(ETYS)

, a stock that has lost around 70% of its value since November. The online toy store matched earnings estimates with a 52-cent loss, something that was not endearing itself to the market as it was down 3 1/16, or 14.4%, to 18 3/16 in recent trading.

Net sales at eToys increased to $107 million, up 366% from the previous year, and mostly in line with what

Merrill Lynch

analyst Henry Blodget wrote in a pre-earnings report, in which he indicated that eToys could have done "in excess of $100 million in sales." The company said that during November and December it shipped 96% of its orders on time; and in all, 99% of orders placed before the holiday shipping deadline of Dec. 18 arrived in time for Christmas.

Among other stocks that reported last night,

Exodus Communications

(EXDS)

was up 5, or 4%, to 125. The Web hosting company reported a fourth-quarter loss of 25 cents a share, 2 cents narrower than Street estimates, but wider than the year-ago loss of 14 cents. The company also said it plans to raise prices by March 1 for new customer bookings.

Analysts went ga-ga over Exodus' quarter.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

analyst Michael Bowen said the company's numbers were "exceptional," reiterated a strong buy rating, upped his price target to 184 from 160 for the fourth quarter of this year, and wrote that "even at these valuation levels," investors should own Exodus. Deutsche Banc has done underwriting for Exodus.

E*Offering

analyst Christine Nairne wrote that the $101.4 million in revenues handily beat her estimate of $86.7 million, and that customer account growth of 31% sequentially was "remarkable."

Merrill Lynch

upgraded its intermediate-term rating on

InfoSpace

(INSP) - Get Report

to buy from accumulate after the company reported pro forma earnings of 9 cents a share excluding charges for its fourth quarter, well above the Street estimate for break-even results, and better than the year-ago pro forma loss of 5 cents. Analyst Henry Blodget also raised his price objective to 175. InfoSpace was lately trading up 15 5/8, or 11%, to 155 5/8.

E.piphany

(EPNY)

was up 2, or 1%, to 179 after it matched Street estimates with a 24-cent loss for its fourth quarter. The company pre-reported earnings Jan. 10, indicating its earnings loss would be 24 cents. That beat estimates that were looking for a 32-cent loss.

Bear Stearns

upgraded its rating on

Allaire

(ALLR)

to attractive from neutral after the Web software developer reported earnings of 3 cents a share for its fourth quarter, a penny better than estimates. Allaire also announced a 2-for-1 stock split. It was down 3 1/2, or 2%, to 168 3/8.

Elsewhere,

Sycamore Networks

(SCMR)

was among the leading point-gainers in Net stocks, up 12 15/16, or 4.3%, to 313 after announcing a 3-for-1 stock split. The payment date is expected to be on or about Feb. 11.

Homestore.com

(HOMS)

was down 11 57/64, or 9.8%, to 109 1/8 after the company priced a public offering. Homestore said it had priced its offering of 8.3 million shares at $110 per share. Of those shares, roughly half were offered by stockholders.

And

Healtheon/WebMD

(HLTH)

, the company that seems to have some kind of announcement every day, said that

Janus Capital

would make a $930 million investment in the company. Healtheon/WebMD said it would issue 15 million of its common shares to Janus. Healtheon was up 4 3/16, or 6.3%, at 70 1/2.