Net Sector Rises on Deals and Defense

Some Internet companies are still seeing red and charging <I>Barron's</I>.
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Today's meeting of

OPEC

leaders was a focus in the financial world, but Internet stocks have shown they can run on fumes when necessary.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 3.01, or 0.2%, to 1275.54.

TheStreet.com New Tech 30 was up 6.86, or 0.8%, at 832.77.

In his daily commentary, Dick Dickson, technical analyst with

Scott & Stringfellow

, noted that short-term sentiment was starting to pose a problem with the

Investors' Intelligence

survey of market letter-writers, showing 56% bulls, and the

American Association of Individual Investors

survey showing 66% bulls. He pointed out that numbers like those were usually associated with at least short-term highs in the market. However, he noted that any pullback "should be a correction of the big rally the market has enjoyed over the past few weeks rather than a significant reversal of trend." Short term, he said he expects a minor pullback, while the overall trend remains higher.

Barron's

attempted to defend its controversial

article from last week on the burn rates of Internet companies that contributed to a slide in Net stocks a week ago. Author Jack Willoughby even seemed surprised that some of the companies mentioned had a problem with the article, writing that in the piece he had noted many of the Net companies would be able to raise fresh cash by selling stocks or bonds, "

but that wasn't enough for some of the CEOs who called us." The article then quotes Ruann Ernst, chief executive at

Digital Island

(ISLD)

, who said that using financial information from Dec. 31 as the article did, was "highly irresponsible." And a longtime reader labeled the article "the worst piece of yellow journalism I have ever read."

The latest article lists 14 companies that have raised additional cash since Jan. 1 and the additional months they have before burnout.

Some of the companies mentioned and their performances today included

CDnow

(CDNW)

, up 1/4, or 5%, to 5 1/4; Digital Island, down 1 3/16, or 1.6%, to 74 13/16;

EarthWeb

(EWBX)

up 3 1/4, or 13.9%, to 26 5/8;

Healtheon/WebMD

(HLTH)

, up 1 1/2, or 1.4%, to 35 7/16;

HomeStore.com

(HOMS)

, up 7/16, or 0.9%, to 48 1/4;

ImageX.com

(IMGX)

, up 5/8, or 3%, to 22 1/8;

Infonautics

(INFO) - Get Report

, down 1/2, or 5.1%, to 9 1/4;

Mail.com

(MAIL)

, up 5/8, or 3.6%, to 17 7/8;

MyPoints.com

(MYPT)

, up 1 1/16, or 2.6%, to 42 11/16;

NorthPoint Communications

(NPNT)

, down 9/16, or 2.3%, to 24 1/8;

Secure Computing

(SCUR)

, down 7/16, or 2.1%, to 20 1/4;

ShopNow.com

(SPNW)

, down 13/16, or 5.2%, to 14 11/16;

SilverStream Software

(SSSW)

, down 2 1/2, or 3.4%, to 71; and

VerticalNet

(VERT)

, up 4 1/2, or 2.5%, to 188 3/8.

Also,

Barron's

columnist Alan Abelson tackled

Lehman Brothers

and its relationship with the aforementioned VerticalNet. Abelson pointed out that during the time period when Lehman was selling its stake in VerticalNet, its research analysts were recommending that investors buy the stock. In its defense, Lehman told

Barron's

that there was a "demarcation" between venture capital and research.

Among other stocks in the news,

Spyglass

(SPYG) - Get Report

was up 18 11/16, or 28%, to 88 9/16 on news that the Web software company would be bought by

OpenTV

(OPTV)

in a stock swap valued at $2.5 billion. Under terms of the deal, Spyglass shareholders will receive 0.7236 OpenTV Series A ordinary share in exchange for each share of Spyglass stock they own. Based on OpenTV's closing stock price on March 24, the deal values Spyglass at $122.28 a share, a huge premium to Spyglass' closing price Friday of 69 7/8. OpenTV was down 33, or 19.5%, to 136 as investors did not appear happy with the premium the company was paying.

In another deal,

Talk.com

(TALK)

said it was buying

Access One Communications

, a privately held local telecommunications service provider to nine states in the Southeast, for $200 million in stock. Separately, Talk.com said it reached a deal with

Soros Private Equity Partners

to invest $80 million in the company in exchange for 80,000 shares of 7% convertible preferred Talk.com stock. Talk.com was up 2 1/16, or 14%, to 16 5/8.

Red Hat

(RHAT)

was down 3 5/16, or 5.5%, to 57 3/16, though it traded as high as 64 1/16 after the software company

bested earnings expectations today. Red Hat posted a fourth-quarter loss of 4 cents a share, a penny narrower than the four-analyst estimate, but wider than the year-ago loss of 3 cents a share

On the downside, shares of

Foundry Networks

were off 3 3/16, or 2.2%, to 141 15/16. The stock was one of many that have lockup

expirations today.

In analyst action,

Credit Suisse First Boston

began coverage of Internet consulting firm

Rare Medium Group

(RRRR)

with a strong buy rating and an 80 price target. Analyst Mark Wolfenberger noted that he expected a "significant strategic alliance" with a major software/hardware vendor. First Boston has done underwriting for Rare Medium Group, which was up 8 1/2, or 16%, to 58 1/2 in early trading.

First Boston also began coverage of

Onvia.com

(ONVI)

with a strong buy rating, saying the company has emerged as the leading B2B marketplace for small-business buyers and sellers. CS First Boston was the lead underwriter for the Onvia IPO. Onvia was up 2 9/16, or 8.2%, to 33 3/4.