SAN FRANCISCO -- Internet stocks are running away again, and you'll have to move quickly to catch them.

Net stocks have been strong most of the week and are strong again on the last trading day of the quarter.

"They're just doing their thing," said Dan Mathisson, head stock trader with

D.E. Shaw Securities

. "These stocks just keep running, and to look for a fundamental reason is a waste of time."

After trading lower on the open,

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

has righted itself after two down days. The online auctioneer has suffered from

Amazon.com's

(AMZN) - Get Report

entry into the market, though the strength in the entire Net sector today has helped stem the bleeding.

eBay was up 3 7/8, or 3%, at 141 in early trading, while Amazon.com was up 7 7/8, or 5%, at 172 9/16.

Shares of

America Online

(AOL)

are higher despite some negative press in today's editions of

The Wall Street Journal

. The article suggests that AOL could incur as much as $9.7 billion in "goodwill charges" against earnings should regulators determine that

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

effectively purchased Netscape's corporate-software business rather than AOL. Goodwill charges refer to the amount AOL paid above the fair value of Netscape's assets.

But with the Internet sector rallying, shares of AOL were up 5 1/4, or 4%, at 149 3/4.

Wit Capital

started coverage of the company with a buy rating.

Mathisson said he does expect some end-of-the-quarter window-dressing in AOL later in the day, but he did not think there was heavy fund buying on the opening.

Earnings Woes

Shares of

Etec Systems

(ETEC)

dropped after the company warned investors about its upcoming quarterly earnings after the close on Tuesday. Etec was down 14 3/8, or 33%, at 28 3/4 after forecasting a loss in its fiscal third quarter of between 35 and 45 cents a share, including charges it will record after cutting 90 jobs, or 8% of its semiconductor products group workforce. Excluding the charges, Etec expects earnings of 10 cents a share. The 12-analyst view from

First Call

called for earnings of 26 cents vs. the year-ago profit of 47 cents.

Also,

PeopleSoft

(PSFT)

is lower after warning of lower-than-expected revenue and profit margins earlier today. It was lately down 1 1/16, or 7%, at 14 1/2. The company's woes were outlined in a recent

piece on

TSC

.

Dell Gets a Life Preserver

Floundering in recent weeks,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

is getting some help from a note on the PC industry from

Merrill Lynch

. Despite concerns over pricing in the next few years, Merrill Lynch said that the March sales look better and says it prefers Dell over

Compaq

(CPQ)

.

Dell climbed 1 3/8, or 3%, to 41 1/4. Compaq was up 1/2, or 1%, at 32 13/16.

Edelstone Helps

Shares of

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

and

LSI Logic

(LSI) - Get Report

are trading higher after friendly words from

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's

Mark Edelstone. Morgan Stanley has had an underwriting relationship with both companies.

Edelstone raised his rating on LSI Logic to strong buy from outperform and set a price target of 40. He reiterated his strong buy rating on Xilinx and increased his 12-month price target for that stock to 60 from 50. LSI Logic was up 3 7/8, or 14%, at 31 3/8, while Xilinx gained 2 7/8, or 7%, to 41 3/8.