Big Blue Says Jump but Net Stocks Don't Ask How High

After IBM's chief talks e-business, the stock bounds higher. Also, Oracle falls on earnings jitters.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- If IBM (IBM) - Get Report is to become a bellwether Internet stock, it's going to have to do better than this.

Though IBM was up strongly after CEO Lou Gerstner Tuesday night touted the company's Internet presence, most of the Internet sector showed some weakness without "one of their own" in the news. And those who say Net stocks are very sensitive to interest rates better come up with something else; the long bond was up around a point today and Net stocks still fell.

IBM closed up 20 1/2, or 9%, at 246, after Gerstner said that 25%, or $20 billion, of the company's annual revenue is now coming from the Internet. In and of itself, IBM contributed 93 points to the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

, which closed up 106.82.

But other than Big Blue's big day, there was little other positive news in the tech sector.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

was a bit of a downer as the company was set to

meet with market analysts amid fears it would guide down earnings estimates for its current quarter. Oracle ended the day down 2 5/16, or 9%, at 23.

Lycos

(LCOS)

was an Internet bright spot as investors continue to clamor over the stock following dissolution of its merger with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

, though it fell prey to profit-taking along with other Net stocks. Hopes that the company will find another partner willing to pay a higher premium than USA were fanned by reports from both

BT Alex. Brown

and

Jefferies

.

BT Alex. Brown, which has done underwriting for Lycos, upped its rating on the company to strong buy from buy and listed a number of potential suitors, including

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

,

News Corp.

(NWS) - Get Report

,

Time Warner

(TWX)

and

Bertelsmann

.

Jefferies also upped its rating on Lycos to buy from hold, with the same 150 price target as BT Alex. Brown, and also named Time Warner as a potential partner.

Also benefiting from an upgrade was

Tut Systems

(TUTS)

. The company was upgraded to buy from neutral by

Lehman Brothers

. Lehman placed a 55 price target on the stock and it reached a high of 55 23/32 intraday before closing up 12 15/16, or 32%, at 52 15/16. Tut Systems designs and develops advanced communications products which enable high-speed data access over the copper infrastructure of telephone companies.

Also in the self-fulfilling prophecy category was

ST Microelectronics

(STM) - Get Report

, a hot communications chipmaker that held a meeting with analysts.

Goldman Sachs

raised its price target on the stock to 125 and it closed up 10 1/16, or 9%, at 124 3/16.