Led by Positive PC News, Tech Stocks Get a Running Start

Shipments and domestic sales of personal computers looked strong in the first quarter, according to two reports.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Tech stocks have taken off to a strong start this week. Good news about PC sales and buying ahead of key earnings reports from several Internet companies are contributing to the positive tone.

PC makers are mostly firmer after

International Data Corp.

and

Gartner Group's Dataquest

reported that shipments of personal computers were strong in the first quarter. IDC said that sales rose 19% in the quarter, with U.S. sales up a strong 24%. Dataquest said shipments rose 17%.

Though

Compaq

(CPQ)

maintained its ranking as the top seller of PCs, these reports indicated that its share of the domestic market fell. Dataquest reported that Compaq had a 15.7% share of the U.S. market, which was 2.1% below its year-ago market share. Compaq stock was nearly unchanged in early trading, up 1/8 to 23 1/4.

Dell's

(DELL) - Get Report

share of the domestic market rose to 14.3% from 11.4%. It was trading up 1 3/8, or 3%, at 44 3/8.

Gateway

(GTW)

, which also had a strong quarter, was up 2 1/4, or 3%, at 71 3/4 in early trading.

Earnings Ahead

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

will be among a number of key Internet companies reporting earnings this week. But ahead of its report, the company announced that it had acquired auction house

Butterfield & Butterfield

in a deal valued around $260 million. The two companies had entered into an agreement earlier this month to create a separate listing of premium items on eBay that would come from Butterfield & Butterfield. eBay is expected to report earnings of 2 cents a share, according to

First Call

. It was up 11 13/16, or 6%, at 211 15/16 in early trading.

Other Internet-related companies reporting earnings this week include

America Online

(AOL)

,

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

and

MindSpring Enterprises

(MSPG)

on Tuesday and

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

on Wednesday. Many Internet companies that have reported so far have followed a pattern of rallying into the report and then succumbing to profit-taking after the numbers are released

In the News

Online brokerages are on the rise following news that

E*Trade

(EGRP)

had surpassed the 1 million mark in active accounts. In early trading, E*Trade was up 8 15/16, or 9%, at 113.

Also,

priceline.com

(PCLN)

is among the hot stocks after three firms initiated coverage of the stock.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

placed an outperform rating on the company. Also,

Goldman Sachs

put the stock on its recommended list, and

BancBoston Robertson Stephens

tacked on a buy rating. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and BancBoston Robertson Stephens were underwriters for priceline.com, which was among the early leading gainers on the

Nasdaq

, up 20 1/2, or 23%, at 108 1/2.

H&Q Conference

High-profile high-tech firms will be on display at this week's

Hambrecht & Quist Technology Conference

in San Francisco. Among the firms presenting this morning are

@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

,

InfoSpace.com

(INSP) - Get Report

,

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

.

TSC

will provide

coverage throughout the four-day conference.