SAN FRANCISCO -- For Internet stocks, it's not always what you do but how you say it.
jumped 33% after the company forecast a sharp increase in revenue for its fourth quarter ended last month.
The operator of Outpost.com, which sells computer hardware and software over the Internet, said revenue for the quarter should reach about $33 million, up from the third quarter's $23.5 million.
, the company is expected to lose 39 cents a share for the quarter. In its press release, the company forecast that revenue would rise 300% from a year ago and 40% from third-quarter levels. The company didn't mention expectations for earnings.
Derek Brown, an analyst with
Volpe Brown Whelan
, said the 300% gain is "a little bit deceiving" in that it comes off a relatively small base. He also noted that the results include the December holiday season, so there should have been a "healthy quarter-over-quarter increase." After talking to the company, Brown said he believes that gross margins for the quarter will be a "bit below expectations."
"I don't know enough to know if it's stronger-than-expected growth," said Brown. "But 40% growth is showing healthy demand for their product."
Katherine N. Vick, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Cyberian Outpost, said the numbers that were reported were "very solid" and ones the company was proud of.
"I never think facts are deceiving," Vick said. "We had a 38% growth in
last quarter and 40% growth in this quarter. I feel very happy to talk about it."
Vick said the company was in the midst of its audit and did not have an estimate on earnings per share for the quarter. Shares of the Kent, Conn., concern were up 5 5/16 at 21 7/16.
3Com Still Struggling
The meltdown of
continues. At noon the stock was off 3 5/16, or 12%, to 23 11/16 on volume of more than 40 million shares. Tuesday evening 3Com warned that profits in the February quarter would fall short of expectations, prompting institutional investors abandon the stock.
"As long as the volatility is there, it becomes a trading stock by default," says Ronny Kraft, CEO of
Gotham Capital Management
. Despite the volatility, Kraft might start "nibbling" shares as a potential value play. 3Com trades at 17 times estimated earnings for 1999, and is expected to grow 24% in coming years.
One sell-side analyst who asked not to be named says 3Com's problems don't reflect a broad slowdown in corporate spending on networks. Rather, 3Com likely is reeling from ebbing sales of personal computers, and price cuts in its low-end network products. The analyst rates 3Com a buy at this price, but says that 3Com will have trouble proving its worth as a buy-and-hold stock to money managers.
If It's Broke, Don't Fix It
Problems with breakdowns notwithstanding,
Credit Suisse First Boston
analyst Bill Burnham has more positive things to say about online brokerages.
In a report released today, Burnham writes that online trading volumes continued to surge in the first quarter and estimates that average daily trades will increase about 25% from the 340,000 mark reached in the fourth quarter. He adds that trading in Internet stocks continues to drive the volume gains.
"All firms related to
the online trading industry should see strong top and bottom line results in Q1," he writes, with additional upside possible if Internet stock trading volumes remain strong in March.
Burnham also upped earnings estimates for both
. He now expects E*Trade to post a 17-cent loss in its fiscal second quarter that ends in March vs. the 18-cent loss he previously expected. That is still larger than the 16-cent loss estimated by 10 analysts surveyed by First Call.
Burnham now sees Ameritrade posting an 8-cent profit in the fiscal second quarter vs. a 5-cent loss previously forecast, which is far better than the 5-cent loss estimate from seven analysts surveyed by First Call. Burnham made the change because of a reduction in marketing costs along with strong market volumes during the first two months of the quarter.
E*Trade was down 13/16 at 46 7/8, while Ameritrade was up 3/16 at 46 13/16.