Net Sector Moves Up Ahead of Earnings Reports

Yahoo!, batting first next week with its report expected Wednesday, has put on about 30 points this week.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- While the stock market was digesting this morning's employment report, the Internet sector was already looking ahead to next week, when the second-quarter earnings season begins.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 9.27, or 1.5%, at 649.42 early on.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, which traditionally kicks off the earnings season for Net stocks and reports next Wednesday, was up 1/2, or 0.3%, at 177 3/4 in early trading today. It has gained around 30 points this week in advance of the report, expected to come in at 8 cents a share, according to

First Call

.

In his weekly Web report,

BancBoston Robertson Stephens

analyst Keith Benjamin said he expects to see "evidence of improving fundamentals and further stock progress" with the upcoming earnings reports. But Benjamin wrote that he does not expect "many new highs will be reached, with investors holding back in fear of a slow August."

In somewhat related news, a

USA Today

story today claims that users of the Internet are shunning portals like Yahoo!,

Lycos

(LCOS)

and

Excite

and jumping right to specialty sites. The story quoted numbers from

Nielsen/Net Ratings

showing portal traffic by U.S. home users rose only 5% from March to May. Lycos was down 1 3/8, or 1% at 101 early on.

Other stocks in the news today include

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

, which provides high-speed Internet access. According to

News.com

, some of Excite@Home's users in the San Francisco area have had slow download speeds or have had no service at all since early May. The story says

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

, Excite@Home's largest shareholder, will offer five months of free service to more than 1,000 customers because of the latest problems. Excite@Home was off 11/16, or 1%, at 54 1/4 early on.

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

was extending gains made Thursday after it announced an agreement to provide

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

WebTV

with technology allowing it to support RealNetworks' RealAudio G2 format. RealNetworks rose 13% on the

news Thursday, but the story was featured on

CNBC

this morning. It was up 9 1/8, or 12%, at 87. Microsoft was down 7/16, or 0.5%, at 90 3/4.