Put this on your list of signs that we may have re-entered a stock bubble: Shares in CMGI( CMGI), a headliner in the turn-of-the-century tech stock frenzy, surged 25% Monday on remarkable volume.
The frantic rally didn't stem from any particular activity by CMGI, which last generated news a month ago by posting the details of its latest money-losing quarter. Nor was there any apparent spark on Wall Street, where analysts no longer cover the former highflier.
Instead, the action appears to have been triggered in part by a positive mention on a weekend television show -- a mention that was motivated by the commentator's liking the stock's chart. The TV comments were echoed on the Internet message boards Monday as CMGI shot skyward and the
rallied modestly after a flat start.
On Monday afternoon, shares in CMGI were up 51 cents, to $2.52. With half an hour left in the trading day Monday, some 32 million shares had changed hands -- six times the company's three-month average trading volume and its heaviest trading day since Halloween, when shares gained as much as 17% on volume of 30.8 million shares.
CMGI President and CEO George McMillan said the company was not aware of any explanation for the stock's activity. While the company was named "stock of the day" on the
channel within the past two weeks, he said, "There haven't been any material announcements made since our last earnings release." McMillan said he had not heard about the TV mention of the stock this weekend.
That leaves as the likely inspiration for Monday's movement the Fox News Channel show "Bulls & Bears," which airs as part of Fox's Saturday morning business programming.
Off the Charts
...and recent rally
Gary B. Smith, a regular on the show, mentioned CMGI as a stock "that deserves a second chance," according to Fox's summary of the show on its Web site. (Smith is also a contributor to
, which like this Web site is published by
Smith -- who also goes by the nickname Chartman -- "said even though CMGI had that huge fall, it has continued to fight back," according to the summary. "He likes that the stock has been strong since last year and continues to be strong. He would wait for the stock to close at $2.25 before buying, but thinks it could get to $10 within two years." Pat Dorsey, director of stock research at Morningstar.com, "doesn't like CMGI, because it has not generated any positive cash flow," says the summary.
CMGI shot to fame as an incubator of Internet companies, bankrolling onetime market fave Lycos as well as numerous duds such as Furniture.com and iCast. Back in early 2000, CMGI closed as high as a split-adjusted $163.22. But as the company found it difficult to generate cash from operations and investors began to question the value of a majority of Internet-based business models, CMGI's shares crashed back into the neighborhood of $5 a share by the end of the year before falling further in 2001 and 2002.
Though CMGI still has a venture capital portfolio, it's primarily involved in supply-chain management for electronics manufacturers.
Asked whether there was a cause-and-effect relationship between his commentary and the stock, Smith said Monday that he suspected there was: "This is just a $2 stock that has a lot of speculation and froth in it." But Smith, who doesn't hold any CMGI shares, added later, "I liked the chart, I thought it could break out, and whether I caused it to break out, I guess we'll never know."
As for whether CMGI's activity is a sign of larger speculation in the market, Smith said, "I guess you could assume that when stocks like this move ... it could be construed as speculative. It's difficult to say."
The CMGI rally comes on the heels of a number of sharp moves in tech stocks in recent months, notably a jump last week in big telecom equipment makers led by
( LU) and
( NT), as well as last year's 1,000% rise in
XM Satellite Radio
Gary Schreier, a Fox News senior producer who oversees the Saturday business programming on the channel, says that comments about individual stocks "infrequently" have an effect on Monday trading. "It's clear these shows are heavily watched," he said. "We know that they're heavily talked about in chat rooms."
Indeed, Smith's positive comments about CMGI were picked up, among other places, on the
stock message boards, where Smith's discussion and the stock's Monday movement inspired momentum-happy messages such as "HOUSTON...We have lift - off!," "Buy now and you will be a millionaire soon!!" and "THANKYOU GARY!!! GARY B. SMITH!!! :)))"
Last week, Schreier said, comments by a participant in another show, "Cashin' In," had a similarly positive effect on the optical networking company
Schreier says he doesn't see bubble-era speculative frenzy in viewers' reactions to the Saturday shows. "In emails we get, I don't see this wild exuberance that you saw where
stocks grow into the sky," he says. "On the other hand, I see a lot of optimism -- in the economy, in the stock market, and in America." There is, he says, "an underlying cautiousness in most of the emails I see, because people have been burned before."