Profit-Takers Resurface in Net Sector

Internet stocks are riding another wave of selling this morning.
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Unless a company was making noise with some announcement, chances are it was trading lower as the Internet sector was seeing its second straight day of profit-taking.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was down 34.39, or 3.1%, to 1063.04 in recent trading. It was nearing support at 1052.00, which was the low from Dec. 9. Investors have rushed to take profits over the past two sessions following the recent rally.

Many stocks with recent run-ups were seeing profit-taking today, including

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, down 12 1/8, or 3.6%, at 321;

America Online

(AOL)

, down 3 13/16, or 4.3%, at 85; and

Internet Capital Group

(ICGE)

down 10 1/4, or 8%, at 113 15/16.

Among stocks in the news,

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

was up 1 7/16, or 3%, at 50 3/8 on a

Reuters

report that it was talking with

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

about a strategic alliance.

News of an expanded deal with Microsoft also was helping out

E-Stamp

(ESTM)

. Microsoft will put links to E-stamp's service on its

bCentral.com

Web site for small businesses and its

Expedia

travel site. Microsoft has already invested in E-Stamp. E-Stamp was up 2 7/8, or 11%, at 29 5/8, and Microsoft was up 2 3/16, or 2%, at 100 7/8.

CMGI

(CMGI)

was down 7 1/2, or 4%, at 198 1/4. The company is expected to report fiscal first-quarter earnings after the close today, and the

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate is for a loss of $1.77 a share. Ahead of its earnings report, CMGI said it agreed to acquire

yesmail.com

(YESM)

, an outsourcer of permission email marketing technologies. Under terms of the agreement, CMGI will issue 0.1252 CMGI share for every share of yesmail.com. In addition,

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

began coverage of CMGI today with a strong buy rating.

According to a story last night in

News.com

, CMGI-owned

1stUp.com

, which also provides free access for CMGI's

AltaVista

unit, will provide technology to a new, free dial-up Internet service expected to be offered by Excite@Home in addition to its high-speed access services.

Sticking with service providers,

NetZero

(NZRO)

and

quepasa.com

(PASA)

were not seeing much activity after announcing an alliance. NetZero, which provides free Internet access, will let subscribers select a customized quepasa.com start page that is targeted to the Latino community. NetZero was flat at 22 1/2 after trading as high as 24, while quepasa.com was down 15/16, or 7%, at 22 1/2. Officials from both companies were grilled by

CNBC's

Mark Haines this morning.

In analysts' action,

J.P. Morgan

initiated coverage of

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

with a buy rating and a 12-month price target of 230. Analyst Susan Walker White wrote that "with its significant first-mover advantage and premium brand name, we believe it will continue to grow off the critical mass it has achieved." She wrote that eBay should be a core holding for Internet investors. eBay was up 5, or 3%, at 155 9/16 on the news.

Also,

Merrill Lynch

began coverage of

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

with a near-term accumulate rating and long-term buy rating. Analyst Henry Blodget placed a 12- to 18-month price target of 200 on the stock. He noted that because the stock has had a strong run, valuation was a concern, but his call was based on the company's "strong fundamentals." RealNetworks was up 3 3/8, or 2.3%, at 152 7/8.

And

Goldman Sachs

initiated coverage of

InfoSpace.com

(INSP) - Get Report

with a market outperformer rating. Analyst Vik Mehta wrote that although InfoSpace's valuation was "rich" at 95 times calendar year 2000 revenue, he believed that InfoSpace "has significant growth opportunities" through its wireless Internet capabilities, global reach of products and services, investments in early-stage companies and e-commerce infrastructure. It was up 8, or 5.6%, at 151.