Tech Sector Mostly Ignores Dow's Dive

News of extended trading on the Nasdaq helped soothe worried investors.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Staring at a 200-plus-point loss in the Dow, the technology sector thumbed its nose at the mighty index and closed just slightly lower.

Technology stocks found support from news of longer trading hours at the

Nasdaq

, though Internet stocks were mostly weaker as the interest-rate jitters that pummeled the Dow also weighed on the Net.

Market watchers continued to debate whether the setback in the Net sector has run its course. Analysts at

BT Alex. Brown

said there were "some good buying opportunities for long-term oriented investors," but current weakness could continue "as Internet IPO supply remains high across the market and uncertainty continues surrounding interest rates, inflation and summer seasonality."

Goldman Sachs

said the selloff was "overdone" and presented "an opportunity to build further positions in leadership names."

But Internet leaders did little leading today.

America Online

(AOL)

closed down 4 9/16, or 4%, at 115 3/4.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

closed down 7 1/2, or 5%, at 133 3/8.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

closed down 6 3/8, or 5%, at 114 9/16.

Other blue-chip tech stocks also were in the news. Analysts from two firms cited recent weakness in

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

as buying opportunities.

Lehman Brothers

reiterated a buy rating on Microsoft and upped its price target on the stock to 110 from 92. Analyst Michael Stanek said the correction in the stock was "just about over." Lehman has done underwriting for Microsoft. Microsoft closed down 1/8 at 78 3/8.

Intel closed up 1 7/16, or 3%, at 53 1/8.

Merrill Lynch

analyst Joe Osha reiterated a near-term accumulate rating and long-term buy rating on the stock and placed a 12- to 18-month price target on the stock of 86.

Autobytel.com and the Art of Recycling

Autobytel.com

(ABTL)

learned Thursday that it pays to say it again.

The online car dealer referral service -- whose claim to fame is as the first Internet-related commercial to air during a

Super Bowl

-- reiterated some key points from its first-quarter results, pushing its stock up 7 3/8, or 47%, to 23 1/8.

Autobytel.com said its referrals now result in car sales of about $24 million per day, or $1 million an hour. This number is based on the 489,000 referrals the company reported when it announced its first-quarter results April 29. The company said about 20% of those referrals result in a car sale, and the average price of a car is about $22,000. Put it all together and you get about $1 million in hourly sales on average -- but not for Autobytel.com. For its partners.

This sales number won't ever appear on Autobytel.com's income statement. Even if the partners' sales are growing, Autobytel's referral fees won't necessarily keep pace, because partners pay a flat rate to be part of the network, a company spokeswoman said. "It's not black and white, or X equals Y," she said.

But it's important to put it all together in a press release because as more referrals turn into more sales for the dealers, she said, Autobytel.com will also likely generate more fees from referrals for financing and auto insurance.

So the news today, which was not new at all, says that the company generated revenue of $8 million in the first quarter.

Thanks for the newsflash.

AutoBytel competitor

AutoWeb

(AWEB)

also seemed to benefit from the report, closing up 2 5/16, or 16%, at 16 1/4.

-- Suzanne Galante

Lane Likes Oracle

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

President and Chief Operating Officer Ray Lane again moved to quell rumors that he would leave the Redwood Shores, Calif., database giant to head another high-tech firm.

After a general meeting of the

American Iron & Steel Institute

, an industry trade group, in New York, Lane said he was interested in staying at Oracle. Lane, who is second in command to CEO Larry Ellison, has frequently been named as a potential successor to

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

CEO Lewis Platt or former

Compaq

(CPQ)

CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer.

--

Medora Lee