About the only thing holding back Net stocks today were higher interest rates and weakness in the overall market. But when bonds and stocks came off their lows, the Net sector was ready and waiting. Net stocks pushed higher into the close, boosted by a number of high-profile mergers and pre-earnings run-ups in a number of stocks.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index closed up 15.83, or 2.2%, at 731.94. It reached a high of 738.16 and is within striking distance of the 746.99 high from Oct. 12.
The most high-profile of the mergers was
buying privately held
Blue Mountain Arts
in a deal valued at around $780 million. Excite@Home finished up 3/4, or 2%, at 39 13/16, as the acquisition was deemed a positive one.
Paul Merenbloom, analyst with
, said the acquisition "opens doors for @Home to reach new and very lucrative markets," and he expected Excite@Home's Excite/media units "to waste little time installing basic content and community tools into the Blue Mountain site."
Rumors that Blue Mountains Arts would be acquired circulated
last week, though speculation was that
would be the likely buyer at a cost closer to $1 billion. eToys actually dropped on that news, but today closed up 4 11/16, or 7%, at 72 1/2.
Also, Web hosting services provider
closed up 15 11/16, or 68%, at 38 11/16 after it bought privately held
for approximately $621 million in stock. Sandpiper helps publishers deliver content through the Internet. Digital Island said the merger would integrate content delivery, hosting and intelligent network services to address the two significant requirements of global e-Business applications: support for centrally controlled and secure transactions and fast content delivery at the edges of the network.
Other big winners included a number of companies that are set to report earnings this week.
, which reports on Tuesday, closed up 8 1/4, or 6%, at 150 7/8.
, which reports on Thursday, closed up 1 13/16, or 3%, at 68 9/16.
, which reports Wednesday, closed up 4 1/8, or 5%, at 82 3/4. And
, which reports on Thursday, ended up 2 3/16, or 2%, at 94 1/16.
, which reported earnings after the close, ended up 2 5/16, or 7%, at 37 9/16. USWeb reported earnings of 15 cents a share, besting the 13-cent estimate from
First Call/Thomson Financial
But other companies that have recently reported earnings were off on profit-taking.
closed down 11 3/4, or 5%, at 217 1/2 after reporting earnings on Thursday.
, which reported earnings last Wednesday, closed down 4, or 1.5%, at 257 3/4, though it traded as low as 253 5/16.
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