After Inching Up Slowly, Net Sector Finishes in the Green

All three <I>TSC</I> e-indices ended up raking in gains for the week, led by Internet Sector index.
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What about Bob?

What about Internet Sector

index? After slipping 15 at 10:20 a.m. EDT, the sector has been taking baby steps toward the green all day -- to 721 at 11 a.m., to 726 at 12:30 p.m. and to 729 at 2:40 p.m. Eventually, it sailed up 9.57 to 732.79.

Like a husband whose wife is in

Victoria's Secret

, E-Commerce

index spent most of the afternoon wandering around an opening. It finished off a fraction of a point to 109.95. Meanwhile, E-Finance

index found a bench, sat down early and stayed there. It finished off 1.22 to 64.13.

The e-financiers' woes were due to

Morgan Stanley's

downgrade of

Charles Schwab


to neutral from outperform. Schwab got spanked, down 2, or 5.6%, to 33 3/4.

Schwab wasn't alone. Other components were slapped around, too.



was red-faced and off 15/16, or 3.4%, to 26 7/8.

National Discount Brokers


had a fat lip and dropped 1, or 3.7%, to 26.

TeleBanc Financial


took it on the chin, falling 15/16, or 3.4%, to 26 9/16.

What a week! The DOT finished up 85 points, for a 13% gain. E-commerce cranked out some serious gains, too. It rose 20, or 22%. E-finance got in the act and rose 6, or 11%.

Five minutes into the opening bell,

America Online


looked like

Apollo Creed


Ivan Drago

, falling to a low of 115 1/8. As the afternoon wore on, AOL made a


-sized comeback, finishing up 3 1/8, or 2.6%, to 121 5/8.

Mood swings?





look civil. After gaining all week, the stock seemed poised to give back a lot of gains today, spending most of the day on the red side of the spectrum. At 1:30 p.m., the stock traded in a 10-point range between 177 and 187. Later on in the afternoon, at 3:45 p.m., the stock traded between 182 and 192. Eventually, someone took some Valium and settled in with a gain of 1 7/8 to 192 1/8.

IPO usually stands for "initial public offering," but to a couple of e-tailers, it probably means "inadequately performing open."


, a Web-based vitamin retailer, and


, an online real estate broker, were unimpressive on day one of trading. The former was down 1 5/32, or 10.5%, to 9 3/4, while the latter was around where it started, up 1/8 to 15.

The e-Postman Rings Twice

The successful IPO of San Mateo, Calif.-based



today brought the market a second player in the online postage business. On E-Stamp's first day of trading, the stock rose from its initial offering price of 17 to 22 3/8, a 31.6% gain. The 7 million-share offering was led by

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette


E-Stamp will go head-to-head with

(STMP) - Get Report

in providing postage for the "SOHO" market -- no, not pretentious artists in black turtlenecks -- but rather the 44.7 million Small-Office/Home-Office market in the U.S., according to

International Data Corp.

Those offices accounted for $3.7 billion of electronic commerce in 1998, and IDC says that will grow to $69.7 billion in 2002.

E-Stamp offers customers a $49.95 matchbook-sized device that allows users to print postage from their PCs and "refill" the device as the postage runs out. The firm plans to use the proceed from the offering to develop a purely online product next year and move "up-market" in the years to follow, according to Chief Executive Officer Robert "Bo" Ewald.

"We're really pleased," said Ewald, whose 1,225,000 shares in the company were valued at $20.8 million when the stock priced at $17 last night. Ewald took a dig at, which had the gumption to take the company public without a single dollar in revenue. "We felt it was very important to get some customers before we went public," he said.

Other investors who were licking their chops today were AT&T Ventures, a division of


(T) - Get Report



(MSFT) - Get Report

. Both firms were early investors in E-Stamp, and, at $17 a share, saw the value of their investments rise to $29.4 million and $27.6 million, respectively.


investors, however, say that the real 800-pound gorilla in the space will ultimately prove to be postal behemoth

Pitney Bowes

(PBI) - Get Report

, which has sued E-Stamp for patent infringement. E-Stamp contests the charges of infringement. "We do see them as a serious competitor," said Ewald. Shares of Pitney Bowes finished the day up 1, to 63 7/16., meanwhile, fell 2 1/16 to 33 9/16.


Cory Johnson