CNet

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plunged 21% Wednesday on the heels of a weak revenue forecast and bearish remarks from advertising industry behemoth

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CNet shares dropped $1.63 to $5.92 after the company projected that first-quarter revenue will fall 10% to 15% from fourth-quarter levels. Further upsetting investors, AOL said Wednesday morning that it doesn't expect to see the ad market pick up anytime soon, a trend that will surely punish ad-supported companies such as CNet.

CNet President Dan Rosensweig said Tuesday night that the company expects technology advertising to remain "stable yet challenged" for the first half of the year. Technology advertisers are going to wait until they see an improvement in capital expenditures, he said, before they begin to "aggressively uptick" their marketing. Online-technology advertising should perform "significantly better" than technology advertising in print publications, he said.

For its part, AOL made a conspicuous effort Wednesday morning to ease investors off any hope that the ad market, mired in its worst slump in recent memory, will stage a bounceback anytime soon. The company reiterated financial guidance for 2002 that calls for modest growth from 2001, which itself came in much weaker than the company had originally projected.