Net Stocks Push Ahead Before Earnings

Inktomi, CMGI and CNet are leading the sector today.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- As a new season gets under way, it's not just the Yankees that have to deal with the pressure that results from high expectations. But according to one influential analyst, the Internet sector, much like the defending World Series champs, should find comfort in strong fundamentals.

In his weekly research report,

BancBoston Robertson Stephens

analyst Keith Benjamin said the recent frenzy in Internet stocks is based on the issues' underlying strength as the earnings season begins.

"While it remains easy to dismiss Internet stocks based on challenges of rationalizing valuations, we remain encouraged by underlying fundamentals as we start reporting season with

Yahoo!'s

(YHOO)

strong results," Benjamin wrote.

Among the Internet stocks on the rise today is

Inktomi

(INKT)

. The stock was up 17, or 16%, at 121 5/8 around midsession. Inktomi will announce its fiscal second-quarter earnings after the close April 15. Forecasts are for the company to report a loss of 10 cents a share, though the whisper number is for an 8-cent loss. Inktomi also was featured in a story in

The Washington Post

today and announced earlier this week that it had added 350 merchants to its online shopping service. With gains made this week, a short squeeze in the stock also is being seen.

CMGI

(CMGI)

won't report earnings until June 10, but it remains a favorite of Internet speculators due to its ties to many of the Internet IPOs. It was trading up 8 7/8, or 4%, at 255 3/8.

Also,

CNet

(CNET) - Get Report

, one of the few Internet companies that actually has reported a profit, has been on a tear lately. A recent

TSC

article suggested that the CNet's revenue could be greater than expected due to price hikes in its merchant program at its

Shopper.com

site. On the day the story ran, CNet closed at 92 5/16. It was up 9 3/16, or 8%, at 124 1/2 today.