best day ever, paced by red-hot Internet stocks, what more is there to say? How about this: Look out for the repo man, because he may come tomorrow and take it all back.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index, which had lost 77.5% in the year before today's session, soared 19.7% higher. Internet-related stocks led the day's
gains, with e-business software maker
rising 34.8% and
Check Point Software
, which dropped 17.3% yesterday, closing 30% higher today.
Along with everything else, "you've got to think there was some short-covering going on," said Tim Albright, who covers Internet stocks for
Salomon Smith Barney
Beyond the fact that the
wants to keep American consumers from fretting, not much has changed for Internet stocks. Certainly not the business fundamentals or the realities of ongoing earnings warnings.
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Long End of Treasury Market Battered Following Rate Cut
Pulse: Giddy Tech Investors Give Life to Beaten Up Chip Stocks
Fed Moves and the Market: The Charts
Why Did the Fed Cut Rates Today?
"The big thing was that the Fed helped boost consumer confidence. B- to-C stocks will benefit from that," said Mike Legg, who covers
Jefferies and Co.
His company has done no underwriting for Amazon.
The e-tailer jumped $3.69, or 26.6%, to $17.56 today after losing 10.8% yesterday. The Net's premier e-tailer, Amazon, is still far from a 52-week high of $85.94 and, until today's jump, had lost 63.1% of its value in the last two months. Beyond the intangible of a boost in confidence, though, not much is different, Legg said.
"The fundamentals haven't changed, and valuation of the stock is still at a premium to traditional retailers, which are their competition."
may have the best shot at keeping some of its gains, Albright said. eBay was one of the sector's bigger winners, closing up $9.16, or 30.3%, to $39.34.
"It's the name that has held its ground the best and is the first to recover," he said. His company has done no recent underwriting for eBay. The online auctioneer has lost 44.9% in the last two months and is still far from its 52-week high of $127.50.
One of the DOT's biggest winners was Internet infrastructure company
, which rose $3.94, or 27%, to $18.50 after the Fed announcement. This came after a steep loss yesterday, when Inktomi lost 18.5% in a wipeout of Net infrastructure firms, over worries of shrinking corporate information technology budgets. The caching and search engine company had seen its share price drop more than 78% in the last two months.
Don't expect Inktomi to keep it; the company warned after the close that revenue would fall about 10% below its previous projections.
The stock dropped sharply in after-hours trading and will fall further tomorrow, said analyst Luke Fichthorn of
. Fichthorn rates the stock a hold and his company has done no underwriting recently for Inktomi.
Given the limited size of the market for caching, the amount of competition and declining IT budgets, and "you don't have a rosy picture for this company," Fichthorn said. "I think you're going to see that reflected tomorrow."
3:53 p.m. ET: Giddy Investors Gorge on Chips
Until the Fed's surprise action earlier this afternoon puffed up the
Nasdaq like a balloon at a birthday party, it was looking like today would be another dreary day of tech stocks falling casualty to earnings worries and slackening corporate technology budgets.
But then came the announcement that the policy-making body, concerned about the weakening economy, was cutting interest rates by 50 basis points -- and yesterday's losers became today's winners.
Can you spell rising stock prices?
Investors were so psyched about the news that they ignored earlier bad news and potentially fundamental problems, and pushed beaten up chip stocks higher.
In the hour before the announcement, for example, data storage device maker
was down more than 6%, still smarting from a mass downgrade of its industry yesterday. In recent trading, however, Network Appliances was up 20%. Fellow storage player
, which had rebounded a relatively modest 4.1% earlier today after losing 18.3% yesterday, was up 23.1%.
That's the story of the day. Massive gains. Losses becoming gains.
was up 23%, for example. And server maker
, which has lost 54.1% of its value since the beginning of November, was gaining 19.4%. By comparison, it had been ahead only 2.5% shortly before the Fed announcement.
Investors jumped in to the market after the news, sending tech stocks across the board soaring and volume leaping. Chip stocks were a big beneficiary.
The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
, which tracks the sector, soared 16.6% in recent trading. Earlier, it was barely edging into the green, dragged by analysts' downgrades of companies that make programmable logic devices. Since chip companies make the brains that go inside computers, they have been battered as PC sales weakened through the fall.
Even down-and-out companies like
-- which has dropped 37.6% since the beginning of November --and rival
-- down 40.3% in the period -- were higher.
, whose shares have fallen 37.6% since November, was also higher. The companies make programmable logic devices, known informally as system-on-a-chip, which are semiconductors that customers can program themselves. These are used a lot in communications and networking. And the stock of companies that make them have been hit by news that big networkers have inventory stockpiled.
A new report from the
Semiconductor Industry Association
trade group on chip sales stated that the sales of programmable logic devices, while growing nearly 66% year over year, dropped 29% from August to November of this year -- a decline exceeded only by the drop in DRAM sales. DRAM is the memory in PCs that is used for handling different programs or applications.
In an update on the industry,
analyst Chris Danely wrote that a check with a semiconductor foundry showed Altera had reduced its orders by 25%. His response? Danely cut his earnings estimates on Altera for both 2000 and 2001.
And influential analyst
Dan Niles of
also found ongoing weakness among programmable logic device makers, lowering his revenue growth estimates on Altera to 20% from 25%. He also lowered Xilinx's growth rate to 25% from 31%.
Both Niles and Danely wrote that declining orders from big communications companies accounted for the slowdown.
This afternoon, however, investors didn't care. They were buying.