SAN FRANCISCO -- Profit-taking late in the day left Internet stocks mixed, with price action in Yahoo! (YHOO) representative of the up-and-down trade seen in the sector. Internet Sector

index ended the session up 1 point, or 0.2%, at 665.30, far from its session high of 689.16. Gains in both Yahoo! and

America Online


set a positive tone for the session early, but Yahoo! sold off in the final hour of trading and contributed to the late weakness in the sector.

Yahoo! traded to a high of 189 1/4 in advance of Wednesday's earnings report. But the Net portal gave back its gains and finished the session down 3, or 2%, at 175 1/8. Investors may have been looking to get a jump on the selloff that typically takes place after Yahoo! reports earnings. Yahoo! has reached highs just before its last two earnings reports in April and January, before selling off despite besting estimates both times. It is expected to report earnings of 8 cents a share, according to

First Call


AOL was back in the spotlight following a positive article in Sunday's

New York Times

. The piece indicated that AOL expects to reach $5 billion in sales this year and to double its subscribers from the current 17 million over the next five years. Unlike Yahoo!, AOL held onto its gains and ended up 6 1/8, or 5%, at 121 3/8.

A deal with America Online was behind a vigorous leap in


. The Internet healthcare network led by the former U.S. surgeon general set a four-year, $89 million strategic alliance with AOL. drkoop closed up 15 7/8, or 67%, at 39 1/2.

One of the largest point gainers among Net stocks was

Exodus Communications


. Exodus has been seen as a prime buyout candidate since

Metromedia Fiber Network


agreed to buy Internet service provider



last month. Exodus closed up 11 3/4, or 10%, at 130 1/2.

"I think somebody's kicking the tires on this thing," said Steve Harmon, senior investment analyst with

. Harmon said the Baby Bells, international telecommunications companies or


(IBM) - Get Report

would be potential buyers for Exodus. "It's really their business

telecommunication companies and the future of communications. They're in the business of storing and moving data."

Recent Internet IPOs continued to see strong demand as investors attempt to get in on the next big mover.

Redback Networks


, which provides Net access management systems, closed up 18 5/8, or 14%, at 153 1/8.

Digital Island


, which sells networking services, closed up 11 7/16, or 54%, at 32 11/16.



, an online mortgage provider, closed up 16 3/16, or 35%, at 63. And


finished up 9 1/2, or 19%, at 60.


Edgar Online


, ended up 9 9/32, or 95%, at 19 1/16. The company, which provides corporate reports on the Internet, said it will add other services such as real estate lease information to its current offerings.