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Tech Industry

Viant, AppNet soar on &#039strong buy&#039 rating

Shares of AppNet Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: APNT) and Viant Corp. (Nasdaq: VIAN) soared Friday after CS First Boston upgraded both e-commerce consultants to "strong buy" from "buy."

In morning trading, AppNet was up 22 9/16 to 38 1/16, or 145 percent, and Viant jumped 13 3/8 to 53 7/8, or 34 percent. Both stocks were at all-time highs.

CS First Boston cited the explosive growth of Internet services in a research note. CS First Boston was an underwriter for both the AppNet and Viant initial public offerings.

Viant and AppNet went public in mid-June priced at $16 and $12, respectively. Shares of both companies have had a bumpy ride but are neck-and-neck in terms of market capitalization.

Another Internet consultant iXL Enterprises (Nasdaq: IIXL) has had strong aftermarket performance since its June 3 IPO. iXL priced at $12. (See comparison chart.)

In its latest quarter, Viant reported second quarter sales of $11 million, and a loss of $1.8 million, or 10 cents a share. AppNet reported second quarter sales of $25 million and a loss of $18.8 million, or 92 cents a share. iXL reported second quarter sales of $45.7 million and a loss of $16.4 million, or $1.09 a share.

Given the demand for consultants it's no surprise another one is on deck. Internet consulting firm Luminant Worldwide (Proposed ticker: LUMT) is scheduled to price next week, but could face a tough reception. Luminant lowered its offering terms for the second time to 5 million shares at $15-17, down from its original terms of 12.57 million shares at $11-13.