Net Debuts Sputter Into Final Hour

Dying momentum and fierce competition have taken their toll on the technology sector.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Compared to some of the highflying Internet IPOs seen earlier this year, barnesandnoble.com (BNBN) had a less-than-noble debut on Tuesday. But that same performance looks stellar when stacked up against three of today's newest offerings.

Juno Online Services

(JWEB:Nasdaq), a low-cost Internet service provider with free email, was priced at 13 but was trading around 11 7/8 by midday.

Edgar Online

(EDGR:Nasdaq), an online supplier of

SEC

filings, was priced at 9 1/2 and dropped as low as 8 1/2 before returning to 9 1/2. And wholesale Internet service provider

ZipLink

(ZIPL:Nasdaq) was lately down 3 1/4, or 23%, at 10 3/4.

"It's not the time to bring Internet companies public," said Randall Roth, analyst for the

Renaissance Capital IPO Fund

. "We're in a situation where the psychology has changed and people are streaming out of these deals. It's not necessarily a fundamental shift, but momentum is going against them."

There are any number of reasons why the Net IPOs have had more trouble of late, most notably the sharp drop among most Internet stocks over the past few weeks. In addition, competition is fierce, what with the veritable deluge of Net IPOs.

Another debut,

StarMedia Networks

(STRM:Nasdaq), was trading up 11 3/8, or 76%, at 26 3/8, while the most high-profile name,

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette's

(DLJ)

DLJdirect

(DIR:NYSE) was up 7 1/2, or 37%, at 27 1/2. Like barnesandnoble.com, which sold 25 million shares on Tuesday, DLJdirect has a relatively large float for an IPO, at 16 million shares. By comparison, StarMedia has a float of 7 million shares. As for barnesandnoble.com, it was trading up 3 1/16, or 13%, at 26.

Elsewhere, the mood has been cautious, with the technology sector seeming to key off the

Dow

. After Tuesday's late tech selloff, the focus will be on the close and whether traders continue to liquidate late in the session.

Among the Internet bellwethers,

Yahoo!

was recently up 8 7/16, or 7%, at 135 3/8, trading in a range between 120 1/2 and 136 5/8.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

was up 3 1/16, or 3%, at 114 5/8, trading in a range between 104 1/2 and 117 7/16.

America Online

(AOL)

was up 13/16, or 1%, at 115 13/16 after trading to a low of 105 1/16. Also,

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

was up 6 7/16, or 11%, at 64 7/16, recovering from a low of 55 5/8.

Internet IPOs?

Buy on first day and hold.

Buy on first day, then sell.

Wait a few days for shakeout.

Depends on the company.

Stay away.