Net Stocks Head Back Into the Red

A few ISPs are moving up on some deal news, but most of the sector is struggling.
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Though yesterday's late

rally was impressive, stocks were back on the defensive today.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was down 21.42, or 1.9%, at 1086.38, still far above yesterday's low of 1046.54.

Among stocks in the news,

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

was up 1 3/16, or 3%, at 41 1/8 after saying it would offer free dial-up Internet access. Users will have a permanent advertising window on their screens, with ads targeted to the consumer. The announcement doesn't come as much of a surprise after

reports last month indicated Excite@Home might provide free service.

The news was little help to

CMGI

(CMGI)

, whose

1stUp.com

will provide the technology for Excite@Home's service. It was down 7, or 2.6%, at 276.

Among other ISPs,

EarthLink

(ELNK)

was up 1 9/16, or 3.5%, at 46 1/4 on news that it would be the exclusive service provider for

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

Macintosh computers.

Beyond.com

(BYND) - Get Report

was down 29/32, or 13%, at 6 5/8 after preannouncing that fourth-quarter sales will not meet estimates. Beyond sees its revenue for the fourth quarter between $34 million to $35 million. That compares with an estimate of $50 million from

Robertson Stephens

, which has done underwriting for Beyond. The company said it would report a fourth-quarter loss of between 65 and 68 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst estimate of a 76-cent loss, despite missing revenue expectations. Beyond.com cited soft consumer sales as it shifts to a business-to-business company for the disappointing revenue forecast.

E*Trade

(EGRP)

was up 3/4, or 3%, at 26 7/8.

DirectAdvice.com

, a provider of customized investment advice online, was expected to unveil a pact today with E*Trade to offer its services to E*Trade customers,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

A couple of interesting research notes came out today. First,

PaineWebber

Internet analyst James Preissler put out a report on "What to Buy After the Holidays." In the report, Preissler indicated that through personal experience purchasing goods totaling $3,000 from various online retailers, 70% of the orders experienced problems. Preissler indicated that many etailers will need to "significantly update their e-commerce infrastructures. And in addition, there will be a rush of companies moving online for the first time in order to not miss another year for Web-based sales." He therefore sees 2000 as possibly a great year for e-commerce enabling companies and recommends a basket of stocks that could benefit.

Included in his list is

Open Market

(OMKT)

,

Check Point Software

(CHKP) - Get Report

,

CyberSource

(CYBS)

,

InfoSpace

(INSP) - Get Report

,

Go2Net

(GNET)

,

Exodus

(EXDS)

,

Digex

(DIGX)

,

Lucent

(LU)

,

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

,

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

and

Verio

(VRIO)

. Of those companies, PaineWebber has done underwriting for CyberSource and Lucent.

And in the wake of

Amazon.com's

(AMZN) - Get Report

announcement yesterday that strong holiday revenue wouldn't help the company's bottom line in the fourth quarter,

Bear Stearns

analyst Scott Ehrens came out with a note praising

America Online

(AOL)

and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

.

Ehrens wrote that he thought the best way to get exposure to the rising popularity of Internet shopping is through AOL and Yahoo!. He indicated that unlike Amazon, AOL and Yahoo! were "big winners both in terms of revenue and profits," without the margin problems that were squeezing Amazon. Amazon was down 1 7/8, or 2.6%, to 67 7/8. AOL was up 3/16 at 74 1/4 early on, while Yahoo! was down 3 1/2, or 1%, at 407.