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CNet soars on strong 1Q, upgrades

    CNET Networks (Nasdaq: CNET) bounded ahead 26 percent Thursday after the company posted a profit for its first quarter and got some praise from analysts.

    Lazard Freres upgraded the stock from "outperform" to "buy" and First Union Securities from "buy" to "strong buy."

    Shares were up 7 11/16 to 39 3/16, though they were still a long way off their 52-week high of 79 7/8. The stock has suffered, along with most other Net issues, during recent volatility. CNET also reported a strong fourth quarter.

    After market close Wednesday, the online provider of technology news and information reported first quarter net income of $1.5 million, or 2 cents per share, excluding amortization and one-time events. First Call's survey of 14 analysts predicted a loss of 6 cents per share.

    Including expenses for goodwill writedowns, merger-related costs, net losses on stock sales and charges related to stock options, CNET lost $19.5 million, or 23 cents per share. The company also said it expects an operating profit, excluding amortization, on revenue of more than $200 million for the full year 2000. Previously, it did not foresee operating income until the fourth quarter of this year.

    CNET also announced Wednesday its board approved a plan to buyback up to $100 million of stock.

    CNET is a competitor of ZDNet (NYSE: ZDZ).