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. Internet stocks opened mixed, while online brokers got a lift from a bullish research report.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was lately down 3.76, or 0.5%, at 817.15. The DOT had fallen as low as 808.77 in early trading, possibly pushed lower by a
to a near-term accumulate from a buy. The stock was trading down 4 1/4, or 5%, at 75 3/16. Merrill lowered its price target on the chipmaker to 90 from 100.
Online brokerages were getting a boost from a note issued by
Hambrecht & Quist
. Analyst Gregory Smith wrote that online trading volumes were hitting record levels in November because of the
strong performance and the popularity of IPOs. He continued to recommend
. H&Q has done underwriting for E*Trade.
But the H&Q report flies in the face of one put out by
Salomon Smith Barney
Thursday, which explicitly stated that valuations of online brokers "should be based on long-term estimates of franchise value rather than near-term market volatility."
In early trading, E*Trade was up 2 1/8, or 7%, at 33 1/16. TD Waterhouse was up 15/16, or 6.4%, at 15 9/16, while Schwab was up 2 15/16, or 8%, at 39 7/8.
Among stocks in the news,
Internet Capital Group
was down big after the company reported a third-quarter loss of $15.2 million, or 13 cents a share, on Thursday night. There was no
First Call/Thomson Financial
estimate. The company had $7.2 million in revenue for the quarter vs. $897,000 in the year-ago period. It was off 13 1/16, or 7%, at 165, likely the result of profit-taking after the stock's recent run-up.
was up 2, or 9%, at 24 7/8 after
initiated coverage of the stock with an outperform rating Thursday.
began surveying prices today of 13 toys listed on
, which PaineWebber says it will revisit weekly to detect any early aggressive competition and promotion. While all three toy retailers have announced aggressive Christmas marketing budgets, toysrus.com has been the only one to offer free delivery. PaineWebber's report also noted that the survey was delayed a few days due to performance problems at toysrus.com.
Of the 13 products surveyed, Amazon had the most competitive price for two products and the most expensive for three. Overall, its basket came in between toysrus.com and eToys at $474.84, which the note indicated was a 2% decrease from the previous week. eToys' basket was seen as the most expensive at $476.80, a 1% decrease from the previous week. toysrus.com had the cheapest basket, at $468.38.
The note concluded that the big story this week was not on pricing, but performance, and that toysrus.com "must make sure that it is scaled and ready for Christmas." In early trading, Amazon was down 1 7/8, or 2.6%, at 71 1/8; eToys was off 3/8, or 0.7%, at 51 5/8; and
Toys R Us
was up 1/2, or 3.4%, at 15 3/8.