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Expectations mixed for Net firms

Net stocks may see some upside in the coming days, as a number of Internet companies roll out their quarterly earnings this week.

Net stocks may see some upside in the coming days, as a number of Internet companies roll out their quarterly earnings this week.

"Overall, the December quarter should be a positive quarter for the industry," said Shaun Andrikipoulos, an analyst with BT Alex. Brown. "I think it will turn out better than everyone is expecting because of the strong e-commerce during the Christmas season and higher Web traffic."

Online bookstore, for example, preannounced that its fourth-quarter revenues would reach $250 million, fueled by strong holiday sales. The company is scheduled to report its results tomorrow.

Infoseek is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results on Thursday, online auction site eBay is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter results tomorrow, America Online is going to report its fiscal second-quarter results Wednesday, and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch is planning to release its quarterly results on Thursday.

Amazon's profit margins, however, are not expected to benefit from the strong sales. Although the company may forecast that its current-quarter performance may be flat to slightly down from the fourth quarter, Andrikipoulos chalked it up to seasonality in Amazon's business.

"Some people may perceive it as their business is going down, but not me," he said. Analysts anticipate the company to post a loss of 18 cents per share, according to First Call.

AOL, meanwhile, is expected to generate stronger-than-expected revenues, in light of the larger-than-anticipated subscriber growth during December, Andrikipoulos said. The online giant is expected to report a profit of 14 cents per share, according to First Call.

eBay, one of the few profitable Internet companies, is anticipated to bring in a profit of 4 cents per share. Andrikipoulos said eBay will likely surprise investors with higher-than-anticipated profits, but he does not expect it to be a "blowout."

And in sizing up Infoseek, which analysts expect will report a loss of 44 cents per share, Andrikipoulos said no "fireworks" will be found in the fourth-quarter results. But he noted that 1999 is shaping up to be a promising year.

"Infoseek paints an exciting picture for 1999 with the launch of the Go Network," he said. "I've seen a lot of TV promotions on ABC and ESPN. This is one of the companies to watch."

The Go Network is a joint venture between Infoseek and Walt Disney.