Editor's note: This series by James J. Cramer and Gary B. Smith examines the first 30 dot-com companies to go public. Cramer diagnoses how each company has weathered the sector's storms, while Smith charts their progress using technical analysis. Together, they offer a thorough, if abbreviated, sketch of the dot-com pioneers. Smith's first segment on the Dirty Thirty was published last Friday, as was the first part of Cramer's take on the group.
Ready or not, here are my thoughts on the final 15 in the Dirty Thirty!
IPO date: 3/8/99
This is the company that, for me, prompted this whole re-examination of the Dirty Thirty. I was stunned to see how low it had gone in such a short time. I can't believe that it has fallen so dramatically, but it looks like the selling pressure (from some convertible holders) is now over. This stock doubled in a week after the selling pressure ended, which made me think there could be some other quick doubles in this group. I don't think this electronic-library stuff, Rowe.com's core business, is an exciting business. (They make it so you don't have to subscribe to a lot of paper periodicals; it is all online.) In fact, I don't even know if this company should be public. But it made it through the window and now, well, who knows? It seems viable.
IPO date: 3/16/99
Flash in the pan: an ISP play.
IPO date: 3/17/99
Here's a boring company that has fallen way too far and is about to make a lot of money. It packages the research of others. I hate aggregators because they are parasites but the market loves parasites because they are cheap to produce and have few costs -- until the folk who let their stuff be pirated figure out that they shouldn't let it happen. (They never seem to, the dolts!) I don't understand how this stock dove so fast when business seems to be on fire. But maybe it is just too boring a company.
IPO date: 3/18/99
Too controversial even for me, as this is really more of a revolution than a company, and I invest in companies. It is too hard to figure out the book value and the multiple of revolutions.
Caroline Trabuco, who was profiled somewhat unflatteringly in
, wanted me to buy this one at 11 because it couldn't go lower.
C'est la vie
. Seems ripe for consolidation.
IPO date: 3/19/99
Getting cheaper. Another start-up that got lucky with its timing. This company couldn't come public now. Claims 5 million registered users. Should be of interest to somebody!
IPO date: 3/22/99
I don't like any of the auto Web plays. They should merge into one big winner instead of a lot of little losers.
IPO date: 3/24/99 (as
Here is one of those community plays that I guess might be the apple of the eye of somebody in the portal business. Not me, as I am insisting that profitability be a Q4 prospect and that's not possible here, although they are making noises that profitability will occur in 2001. I will buy it when I see it.
IPO date: 3/25/99
Boom: Takeover bid!! What we are looking for from the rest of these names.
IPO date: 3/26/99
IPO date: 3/29/99
We call this company PriceWrong in our office; we are long it and have taken a real punishing because we think it is worth more than it is selling for. These guys are now disliked even though they have done everything they said they were going to. We remain loyal. Smartest new management team we have met in this era.
IPO date: 3/29/99
Email is big. This stock hangs in. Email management should be worth something to a larger acquirer looking to crash into the Net.
IPO date: 3/30/99
Why the heck is this stock so hated? It seems like it is one more of these businesses that is hard to understand and unsexy. ZDZ is a "contextualization" play. That's their term; it doesn't mean jack to me. If I want contextualization, I guess I will take
IPO date: 4/6/99
An electronic medical-claims processor. Too hard to go it alone.
IPO date: 4/8/99
No value. Seems in a perma-tailspin. Chronicled negatively, but beautifully by
IPO date: 4/9/99
Provides Web sites for adolescents -- that's how they describe it; I didn't make it up. Maybe buy it with your money, but not with mine.
There you have 'em -- the Dirty Thirty. Some surprising gems amid the rubble. Watch today and Tuesday for Gary B. Smith's continuing TA columns on these companies. We both look forward to your remarks, rebuttals and claims about these companies as we continue to assess their capabilities and prospects.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long priceline.com. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at