SAN FRANCISCO -- Nasdaq 5000! Nasdaq 5000! Nasdaq 5000!
It's no three-hour special (with a spinning,
, pinwheel graphic!), but I felt I had to do
to mark this "historic" occasion.
Any doubts about when (or if) tech stocks would resume their leadership role were eradicated Thursday as the
stormed to its first-ever close above 5000, rising 146.60, or 3%, to 5046.86. Fittingly, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average's
recovery from its morning low of 9738.95 was fostered largely by technology components
. The Dow closed up 154.20, or 1.6%, to 10,010.73.
Evincing the victory of the New Economy stocks over the Old Economy was Hewlett-Packard, which rose 7.8% and accounted for about one-third of the Dow's gains. H-P was up mainly because of excitement generated by its New Economy spinoff,
, which hosted a meeting with analysts today. H-P retains an 80% stake in Agilent.
Despite being relegated to an afterthought, the Dow still has cachet. Note
5.2% rise was largely due to unsubstantiated rumors it will replace
Procter & Gamble
in the venerable blue-chip index. So hold the Dow obits (for now).
Meanwhile, the speed at which the Nasdaq has climbed since mid-October far outpaces the significance of its passing the latest nice round number. The Comp eclipsed 3000 for the first time on
Nov. 3 and 4000 on
Dec. 29. Each 1000-point gain is less of a percentage increase (hey kids, math is fun!), but the Nasdaq's near unabated rise since mid-October has market professionals amazed.
"Last December I was asked if 4000 was a level we could break or hold," recalls Phil Orlando, chief investment officer at
. "It's a quarter later and another 1000 points higher? That's astounding."
Orlando, who forecast the Nasdaq would be effectively flat in 2000 back in
early January, candidly admits the forecast went awry.
Why? Because "the rate of revenue and earnings acceleration" by tech companies was "even better than we thought" it would be, he says. Secondly, Orlando expected a "nice, even, up move across the board" for major stock proxies this year. Instead, blue-chips have been decimated and the money flowing out of that sector has "energized" the Nasdaq and
"higher than ordinarily they would have been."
There "may be" a rotation that takes the Dow and
back to "reasonable levels" in the second half of the year, Orlando said, adding he "can't support" the valuations being sported by some companies without earnings or prospects thereof.
But he does think tech heavyweights -- which Value Line is long -- such as Microsoft, Cisco,
"are cheap compared to some valuation levels others are trading at."
Thus, he's not willing to forecast the Nasdaq will fall from its current state of grace.
"The safest thing to say is the forecast is under re-evaluation right now," the investment chief says. "Do I think we're going higher? Probably. But I hesitate to put a number because invariably it's going to be wrong."
Before you criticize Orlando, note that his 3800 call looked quite aggressive when he first made it in last November/early December. In other words: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away.
Stanek Saga Ends, With a Twist
software analyst Michael Stanek's journey from the sell-side came to an official end Thursday, but not in the way many (including the TaskMaster) expected.
Instead of leaving Lehman for
, as was widely
reported, Stanek was named CFO of
Mediaplex develops mobile Java objects architecture, a red-hot area right now. The company's products are focused on helping companies integrate their online advertising and marketing with real-time business data.
That the (now) former Wall Street analyst would leave to join the New Economy or that he had multiple job offers isn't so surprising. What is surprising is that he would forego Garage.com, which is in the
pre-IPO phase, to join a publicly traded company (albeit a relatively young one).
Joining Garage.com -- or any other start-up -- at a "senior management" position prior to its IPO would have likely meant a minimum salary of $200,000 with a bonus potential of at least 30%, plus ownership of 1.5% to 2% of the company, according to compensation experts.
"It's an amazing wealth-creating opportunity," says Jill Monaghan, managing director at
, an executive search firm.
That Stanek chose to forego that opportunity suggests "he saw a great value proposition at Mediaplex and an opportunity to further the growth exponentially," Monaghan mused (she had no specific knowledge/information regarding the situation). "It says a heck of a lot about this company that they could attract someone of that stature."
Lehman was the lead underwriter on Mediaplex's IPO last November and Stanek followed the company; thus, it's fair to say he was intimately familiar with the firm's prospects.
While Mediaplex's after-market performance has been solid -- having roughly doubled since its Nov. 19 IPO -- it's been downright pokey compared with some other tech names.
I still haven't been able to speak with Stanek -- who was traveling today according to a Mediaplex spokeswoman. But I wonder if he's trying to tell me (you, us) something.
Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at