AOL Among New Competitors to Network Solutions in Domain-Registry Arena

AOL and a unit of France Telecom will be among five companies battling Network Solutions in the Shared Registry System.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The nonprofit firm overseeing the technical management of the Internet named America Online (AOL) and a unit of France Telecom (FTE) along with three others to compete with Network Solutions (NSOL) in the domain-registry business.

The

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

this morning unveiled the names of the five competitors in the Shared Registry System for the .com, .net, and .org domains. The companies are AOL, the

Oleane

unit of France Telecom, the

Internet Counsel of Registrars

,

Melbourne IT

and

register.com

.

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

is among the 29 other entities that will be allowed to compete beginning in late June. Those other companies include the following: 9NetAvenue; A Technology Company; Active ISP; Alldomains.com; All West Communications; American Domain Name Registry; Domain Direct; DomainRegistry.com; eNom; InfoAvenue; InfoNetworks; InfoRamp; Interactive Telecom Network; Interdomain; Internet Domain Registrars; interQ; MS Intergate; NameSecure.com; Name.Space; NetBenefit; NetNames; Nominalia; Port Information System; RCN; Telepartner; Verio; Virtual Internet; and WebTrends.

AOL was up 8 5/16, or 6.5%, to 137 after the announcement. Network Solutions was recently trading up 14, or 23%, at 74, after dropping 40 points in the past four sessions.

Mister Softening

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was weakening following its earnings

report after the close Tuesday. In early trading, Microsoft was down 2 1/4, or 3%, at 80 7/8.

Prudential Securities

analyst Douglas Cook downgraded the stock to hold from accumulate. Cook wrote that in the just-reported quarter, revenue growth for the Windows NT server was flat sequentially, "possibly indicating an early start to a Y2K-induced slowdown." He says he does not see "any near-term catalysts to the stock from these levels," though he maintains a price target of 88 on the stock.

While most other firms did not change ratings on the company, some analysts had cautious words to say about Microsoft's prospects for the rest of the year.

Goldman Sachs

wrote that investor sentiment "may be dampened a bit by the fact that results did not exceed expectations by the magnitude of earlier quarters and given some evidence of some slowing in demand from Europe." In addition, Goldman Sachs reported seeing some slowing in earnings growth in the second half of the calendar year, but expects stronger earnings growth next year due to Windows 2000 and resolution of Y2K issues.

After its recent

preannouncement,

Compaq

(CPQ)

reported first-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, which beat downwardly revised estimates of 15 cents. It was little changed early on, trading up 1/16, or 0.3%, at 24 1/16.

Today,

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

was up 13 15/16, or 8%, at 195 1/2 in early trading after reporting better-than-expected

earnings Tuesday and setting a planned 2-for-1 stock split. Shares rose 52 points yesterday ahead of the announcements.

More Earnings News

Shares of enterprise software company

PeopleSoft

(PSFT)

were rebounding from recent weakness after the company

topped reduced earnings estimates by a penny. It was trading up 1 1/16, or 9%, at 13 3/16.

And

Broadcom

(BRCM)

was soaring after it beat earnings estimates by 5 cents.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

maintained an outperform rating on the stock, but upped its price target to 95 from 80 to reflect higher earnings estimates. It was trading up 7 5/8, or 12%, at 72.