Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The New New New New Economy

At the risk of boring the 60 percent of my audience who are, in fact, business and technology journalists and already know this, I was pretty surprised today when I took a look at what's been going on with Internet stocks.

I was led on this journey by reading an article (not from Bloomberg ... sorry) about Amazon.com's quarterly results. The piece included terms such as "ratings upgrade", "price target" and analysts "looking beyond" the fact that Amazon did, in fact, lose money in the quarter.

In these days of the Internet bust, those terms have kind of an old-fashioned Monty Burns feel to them. Kind of like when you hear Don Sutton call Marcus Giles the "second sacker".

So, thrown back in memory to the days of online grocery shopping and pre-IPO stock options, I decided to take a look at how the big online players have been performing of late.

Year to date, Amazon.com's stock is up just over 100%. Yahoo and DoubleClick are each up about 80%, InfoSpace (remember them?) is up about 70%. Juniper Networks - up about 90%; Priceline - 140%. Even 'Net Dogs EarthLink and TerraLycos have managaged to rise 30% this year.

Ebay, also known as the world's only really profitable public Internet company, has gone up 60% this year despite having never really taken a hard fall like the aforementioned firms.

Of course, the stock of everybody except Ebay has been flat or worse over the 5-year period marking the rise of Internet stocks (Ebay is still up an amazing 1,400% from its IPO).

But when you take a look at what's been going on elsewhere in the market this year, it shows what a roll the Net stocks are on.

The Dow is up around 10%, as is the S&P 500. The whole of Nasdaq, which benefits from the Internet rise, is up slightly less than 25%. Microsoft, which you might think should track somewhat with Internet companies, is slightly down in price this year.

You don't hear much about Internet stocks anymore, do you? I guess that's typical of the media. 1999 was the "year of Internet stocks" like 2000 had the "summer of the shark" and this year was SARS central. You have to move on to the next thing.

But here's a prediction ... Internet stocks get back in the news when Google goes public. May not be this year, but it'll be end of 2004 at the latest.

So maybe I'll start firing Squawk Box back up in the mornings, renew that subscription to Business 2.0 and upgrade my Ameritrade account to include real-time level-two streaming quotes. Day trading might be more profitable than day blogging.

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