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Network Solutions Remains Master of Its Domain

While much of the Net sector is down, Network Solution moves up after its CFO highlights growth opportunities.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Take your pick: interest-rate concerns or lack of market-moving news. Whatever the reason, technology stocks are slipping along with the broader market.



was off around 50 points at midsession, while Internet Sector

index was down 10, or 2%, at 565.

While much of the Internet sector has looked weak,

Network Solutions


was looking strong following an appearance at the

PaineWebber Growth & Technology Conference

. It was trading up 6 9/16, or 11%, at 66 13/16 recently.

Network Solutions CFO Robert Korzeniewski spent a lot of his presentation time talking about growth opportunities, a tactic that this domain-name company has deployed in previous conferences to boost investor confidence. He said based on separate reports, the total worldwide market for domain names could eventually grow to 100 million or 140 million such names, compared with the current 7 million.

He also discussed the dot-com directory that Network Solutions will be launching with



. Upon rollout, the search service will have information on 2 million small businesses, according to Korzeniewski, and will be another way for Network Solutions to sell domain names. But the fate of the dot-com directory is uncertain because some critics contend that the intellectual property of the database is not exclusively owned by Network Solutions and is instead public property.

Finally, Korzeniewski touched on the current

testing period for competing domain-name registrars, saying he wouldn't be surprised if at least one of other registrars started operations soon. Earlier this week,

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became the first registrar other than Network Solutions to enter the field.

-- George Mannes

Taking a Hard Line on Software

A couple of downgrades were issued in the software sector.

Prudential Securities

analyst Douglas Crook downgraded

BMC Software


to accumulate from strong buy and

Computer Associates

(CA) - Get CA, Inc. Report

to hold from accumulate.

In Crook's note on BMC Software, he wrote that the downgrade reflects recent strength in the stock, which placed the corporate-software maker within 12% of his 52-week price target, as well as "risk of long-term deterioration of profitability." BMC was down 2 3/8, or 5%, at 44 1/16.

Crook also wrote that Computer Associates has exceeded his price target of 50, and there is a "transition risk" as the company closes its first quarter after its acquisition of

Platinum Technology International

. It was trading down 4 1/4, or 8%, at 47 1/4. His price target remains at 50.

Computer Associates had an analyst meeting Wednesday, so a lot of notes floated out today.

J.P. Morgan

reiterated its buy recommendation on the company and its price target of 64.