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AOL Europe's Free-Access Leanings Reward Stock

Shares of the company were trading higher after it said it was considering offering free Internet access in Britain.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Internet stocks were making plenty of noise to begin the week, with news out on a number of Net companies today.

America Online

(AOL)

was trading higher after the company said it was considering offering free Internet access in Britain. There have been

concerns about AOL's subscriber growth due to the free-access movement in the U.K. AOL was up 1 1/4, or 1%, at 113 1/4 in early trading.

Shares of

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

were firmer early today on news that the company is in talks with

Reuters

(RTRSY)

to give retail investors access to Reuters'

Instinet

unit. Yahoo! was up 5 1/16, or 3.5%, at 149 1/2 early on.

E*Trade

(EGRP)

was higher early after the company said it was forming a marketing pact with

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

. Investors who open a new account with E*Trade will get six months of AT&T's Internet service for free.

E*Trade was up 1, or 3%, at 36, while AT&T was up 3/4, or 1%, at 56 3/8.

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation Report

, which was featured on

TSC

this

TheStreet Recommends

morning, was up 4 1/16, or 5.5%, at 77.

Also,

Lycos

(LCOS)

was trading higher on reports that it was entering an agreement with

Lotus Development

to provide access to Lycos in a new version of Lotus Notes. Lycos was up 4 1/2, or 5%, at 92 1/4 early on.

Ashok In Love

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report

remains a focus in the marketplace following Friday's

downgrade by

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

.

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

analyst Ashok Kumar responded to the downgrade this morning with a note titled "Much Ado About Nothing."

Kumar said delays in the rollout of the chipmaker's 0.18-micron process technology are only a "speed bump," and that Intel has been working on the problem since April. He maintained his strong buy rating on the stock and said that a seasonal uptick in the second half of the year and the recovery in Asia should lend a positive bias to PC demand.

Get a 'Buy' With a Little Help From My Friends

This morning, two brokerage houses have initiated coverage on a couple of Internet stocks that recently went public.

Merrill Lynch

began coverage of

barnesandnoble.com

(BNBN)

with a near-term accumulate and long-term buy rating. Analyst Henry Blodget set a 12- to 18-month price target of 30 on the stock, saying he considers it a "core holding" in the Internet sector, with seasonal strength expected in the holiday season. Merrill was an underwriter for the barnesandnoble.com IPO.

Also, lead underwriter Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of barnesandnoble.com with a market outperform rating. The stock was up 1, or 6%, at 19 in early trading.

Merrill also initiated coverage of

DLJdirect

(DIR)

with a near- and long-term accumulate rating. Merrill set a 12-month price target in the low to mid-30s. Shares of DLJdirect were up 1 7/8, or 6.5%, at 30 7/16. Merrill was an underwriter for DLJ.