Setting a Record Pace: Stocks That Deal In Cyberspace

Internet stocks offer a remarkable exception to the "big cap is better" approach.

Click on Broadcast.com, for example. The stock price for this online news provider tripled in value on its first day of trading last week.

How about Yahoo! - literally. The most popular Web-search engine boasts a stock price near $200 a share, off a low near $21 over the last 12 months.

Share prices for online bookstore Amazon.com, America Online, plus Net stocks CNET, CMG Information Services, and EarthLink have all shot skyward.

The main Internet stock index, the ISDEX, is up more than 70 percent this year, compared with a 22 percent gain in the overall market.

But before you get blinded by Internet fireworks, analysts urge caution, lest you also get burned.

Many analysts describe Internet stocks as speculative "froth."

"Net stock valuations are up because interest rates are low," says technology analyst Stephen Dalton of First Capital Group, Philadelphia. Reverse that proposition, and look out!

Most Net companies, such as Amazon.com, actually lose money. Yet their stocks continue to climb, fueled by three forces:

* Expectations that Internet use will grow exponentially.

* A search by mutual and pension funds for smaller stocks with rising prices. They've converged on Internet stocks.

* Speculation that large media companies will gobble them up.

If you want to dabble in these stocks, experts suggest no more than a fraction of your portfolio - perhaps 1 percent at most.

Three major mutual funds focus on Net firms (see chart, below), but many technology funds hold Net stocks. (Check out Northern Technology up 42 percent this year; PIMCO Innovation, up 49 percent; Flag Investors Communications, up 42 percent.)

But remember that fundamentals - basic business performance - aren't in sync, Mr. Dalton. says.

Nonetheless, "once you overlook a serious evaluation [problem] among these companies, I don't think there's been any new sector in the past half century that has as much positive momentum," argues analyst Henry Blodget of CIBC Oppenheimer.

He likes AOL, Yahoo!, and Amazon.com, but adds that small investors will probably feel comfortable with a good mutual fund.

Keith Benjamin, a Net analyst with Robertson Stephens mutual fund company, agrees and sees Net-oriented funds as a long-range investment. He also favors CNET, E-Trade, Excite, and NewEdge (check out his views at www.internetstocks.com).

Fund Spotlight

There's not much choice when it comes to investing in Internet

funds. While analysts view this industry as having great growth potential,

it's extremely speculative.

Fund ------- Total return ------

year-to-date one year

Internet Fund 108.0% 137.0%

888-386-3999

Munder Net Net Fund 45.3 87.2

800-438-5789

WWW Internet 23.5 16.0

606-263-2204

Source: Funds themselves; year-to-date data as of July 21; one year return as of June 30.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK