Dot com is getting dot creamed.
Internet stocks were pummeled yesterday amid fears about higher interest rates and concerns over weaker-than-expected performances by high-tech bellwethers.
The Nasdaq sank nearly 50 points, and the Dow Jones Internet index slid 11.8 percent, after a 5.7 percent fall on Friday. Interactive Week's Internet index slumped 8 percent, while the technology-laden Nasdaq composite index fell 49.57, or 2 percent, to 2398.31.
Dulles-based America Online fell $9, or 9 percent, to $90.50 as investors fretted that competitors offering free service would pinch the company's expansion in Europe. Online auctioneer eBay fell $29.87 1/2, or 18 percent, to $136, after the company reported that last week's day-long outage will reduce revenue by $5 million the coming quarter.
Internet stocks slumped even though the broader market rose. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 72.82, rebounding from a 131-point loss on Friday, to close at 10,563.33, while the Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks moved up 0.36, to 1294.00.
A rallying dollar caused the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond -- which moves inversely to the price -- to fall, but bond yields remain near their highest levels in more than a year. The price of the benchmark bond rose $7.50 per $1,000 invested, and its yield fell to 6.09 percent, from 6.16 percent late Friday.
Analysts said investors are worried that a hike in interest rates will hurt Internet shares, which carry high price-to-earnings ratios and could face steep sell-offs if bonds become more attractive. Last month, a policy-setting committee of the Federal Reserve said that it was leaning toward raising rates sometime in the future to fend off the threat of rising inflation.
"Jitters related to interest rates continue to impact the technology market broadly and the Internet in particular," said Derek Brown, an analyst with Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. in San Francisco.
"These are companies with rich valuations in very high-growth sectors, and an interest rate rise would have a big impact on the value of their projected future earnings," he said.
Those worries, Brown said, were fanned by the glitch at eBay, which shut down the company for 21 hours and demonstrated to both investors and consumers the risks of electronic commerce.
"As long as there are concerns about the broader market, there's no reason why Internet companies will be immune," Brown said. "These companies are strong indicators of the general market on the upside and downside."
Few Web stocks were spared in the carnage. Locally, Network Solutions, which registers Internet domain names, fell nearly 11 percent, to $56.56 1/4. The company is nearly two-thirds off its March peak, when share traded at $153.75.
PSINet Inc., the Internet service provider, fell 11 percent, to $36.
Nationally, e-commerce stocks were hammered. Online bookseller Amazon fell 13 percent, to $92, well off its 52-week high of $221.25. EToys dropped nearly 20 percent, to $40.12 1/2, despite bullish recommendations by several underwriters of its recent initial public offering.
Online financial stocks sank too, with Charles Schwab & Co. down 11 percent, to $83.93 3/4, after the company reported that online trading activity fell to its lowest level since December. Other online brokers fared poorly, too, with Ameritrade Holdings Corp. down $12.68 3/4 at $66.06 1/4, DLJdirect off $3.06 1/4 at $24.43 3/4 and E-Trade Group down $5.75 at $32.
Among the popular Internet portals, Yahoo dropped $16, to $119.25, and Lycos fell $14.68 3/4, to $70.06 1/4.
CAPTION: Wobbly Web (This graphic was not available)