Blodget's Bullish on priceline, While Other Nets Pay the Price

The Merrill Lynch analyst's kind words couldn't overcome the market's negativity.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Unlike the perpetually cohesive folks from Beverly Hills 90210, Net stocks no longer move as a group.

And, as the recent contrary action in

priceline.com

(PCLN)

demonstrates, good news for an individual Net company is no longer enough to carry the entire sector.

The company's stock was up this afternoon while its peers still suffered from this morning's larger-than-expected jump in the

consumer price index

.

Merrill Lynch

analyst Henry Blodget raised his revenue estimates for the company, which matches customers with products they want to buy at the price they want to pay.

In a report released this morning, Blodget said that the company's strong sales for airline tickets should bring its second-quarter revenue to $65 million rather than $60 million, its 1999 revenue to $300 million from $265 million and its 2000 revenue to $450 million from $415 million.

Though Blodget offered that priceline.com's stock "appears extraordinarily expensive," he wrote that the company's early growth "suggests to us that it could eventually grow into its valuation." But to do that, he said, business in services other than airplane tickets -- such as hotels, cars and mortgages -- will have to accelerate, something they haven't done yet.

Blodget said priceline.com should be a core holding in an Internet portfolio and that weakness in the stock presents a buying opportunity. Shares of the company were lately up 7 7/16, or 6%, at 128 15/16.

Also in the Web world,

BancBoston Robertson Stephens

analyst Keith Benjamin opined in his weekly Internet report that next week's big event will be the

America Online

(AOL)

analyst meeting Wednesday.

Benjamin said he hopes to hear more about AOL's DSL developments and to gain some insight into timing of their availability for AOL's customers. He also said that he "would not be surprised" to see an announcement with a cable provider. While continuing to recommend the stock, Benjamin "remains stuck envisioning near-term catalysts."

AOL stock dropped 7 3/4, or 6%, to 124 7/8 in afternoon action.

Net investors will also likely focus on third-quarter results for

Lycos

(LCOS)

, due Tuesday after the close. On Thursday, the company repeated comments it made in April that it expects its quarterly results to be in line with analysts' expectations, which call for a loss of 3 cents a share, though Lycos also touted that it had signed e-commerce agreements valued at $200 million in the quarter.

Shares of Lycos recently slipped 15/16 to 106 3/4.

priceline.com?

Blodget's the man -- I'm buying.

$18 billion valuation -- are you kidding?

I've used it -- it's great.

I've used it -- it sucks.