Merrill Postpones Arizona Net Conference

The Internet sector right now is 'a defensive story,' a spokeswoman says.
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Merrill Lynch

has postponed an Internet conference originally scheduled for December, saying it will instead take place this spring -- when, hopefully, Internet stocks will be stronger.

The conference, which was set to include presentations from companies in the new media and advertising, e-commerce, B2B, infrastructure software and wireless sectors, was to take place Dec. 10-13 at the posh Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. The delayed version will be on the East Coast, Merrill says.

"December in Phoenix didn't work for investors," says Merrill spokeswoman Susan McCabe. "They've been bombarded with a lot of conferences lately." In addition, "Right now

the sector is more of a defensive story, and in the spring it will be more of an offensive story."

She's not kidding about the defensive story bit. Among the 37 public companies first scheduled to present, all but three (

Research in Motion

(RIMM)

,

CheckFree

(CKFR)

and

EarthWeb

(EWBX)

) have seen their shares decline over the past two months -- sometimes dramatically so.

priceline.com's

(PCLN)

shares have fallen 77%.

Inktomi's

(INKT)

are down 76%.

Ariba's

(ARBA)

have fallen 50%.

Earlier this month,

TheStreet.com

reported that

Chase H&Q

has canceled its annual ski fest/Internet stock conference called "planet.wall.street."