SAN FRANCISCO -- America Online (AOL) apparently wants to be like Mike -- Mike Dell, that is.
reported Friday that AOL is discussing with
an effort aimed at inducing people who don't own computers to sign up for AOL's service. Speculation is AOL would sell Microworkz computers cheaply or give them away to people who subscribe to AOL. In early trading, AOL was up 1 1/2, or 1.4%, at 108 1/4.
Microworkz, which sells PCs for as little as about $200, earlier this week introduced its iToaster computer at the PC Expo show in New York. The desktop uses a non-Windows operating system that provides easy access to the Internet.
In a note today,
analyst Henry Blodget wrote he believes consumers "remain more focused on service and content, and as such, free access should remain a small percentage of the overall Internet access market in the near term."
Blodget wrote that with the proliferation of alternative Internet access models, he is "somewhat concerned with AOL's ability to excessively beat analysts' earnings estimates, as they have done in quarters past," though he speculated that AOL is "on track for the quarter." He maintained his intermediate and long-term buy rating on the stock.
Regarding the Internet sector in general, Blodget wrote that he does not "foresee any major industry catalysts developing until the fall."
Today's initial public offerings include
, a network equipment maker. The 4.8 million-share IPO was priced Thursday at $34, a huge increase from the $21-to-$23 range at which it was expected. The stock hadn't begun trading at midmorning in New York.
, a network of Web sites, email newsletters and online discussion forums, was priced at $14. Also set to go public Friday are
, an online postage company, and
, a provider of public-record information about individuals. Stamps.com was priced Thursday at $11, US Search.com at $9.
founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is shedding some of his duties.
Late Thursday, Amazon.com said it hired Joseph Galli as president and chief operating officer. Galli, 41, spent 19 years at
Black & Decker
, where he was most recently president of the company's worldwide power tools and accessories unit. Galli will report directly to Bezos.
The giant Internet retailer declared its search for a chief operating officer and a new chief financial officer when it
reported first-quarter results April 28. There was no mention for a search for a new president at that time. Joy Covey, the current CFO, will become chief strategist, working to expand the company's services and operations, when a replacement is named. In early trading, Amazon.com was up 2, or 2%, at 115 5/8.
-- Suzanne Galante
Inside Wall Street
has an item on
. The stock has been beaten up lately, but may soon exceed its old high of 50 because, unlike most Internet companies, Pegasus earns a profit.
analyst James Kissane says that in light of Pegasus' strong revenue growth and prospects for margin expansion, Pegasus, which dominates the market for online hotel reservations, could grow much faster than the average computer-service company over the next several years. Pegasus was up 1 3/4, or 5%, at 34 11/16 in early trading.