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CNet rises on upgrades

    CNet Inc. (Nasdaq: CNET) was up 7 percent Friday after it received a couple of upgrades.

    The company, which operates an Internet network focused on computers and technology, competes with ZDNet (Ziff-Davis is the parent company of ZDNet and ZDNet's Inter@ctive Investor).

    CNet shares, up 4 7/16 to 67 1/4, have been gaining since the company beat estimates in its fourth quarter. Goldman Sachs said on Thursday that analyst Tonia Pankopf had upgraded CNet and added it to the "recommended for purchase list" from a previous "market outperformer" rating. Further details weren't immediately available.

    On Friday, Credit Suisse First Boston raised its rating to a "strong buy" from a "buy" rating, and put a price target of $100 on the stock.

    Analyst Bob Hiler met with senior CNet management on Thursday, and concluded the company's potential in the Data Services sector may be unfulfilled. CNet Data Services provides what Hiler calls ``e-commerce middleware'' to power Web sites and supply chains with detailed product information. Middleware and operating systems makers such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) have lofty valuations and great economics.

    CNet Data Services recently announced that it has added 10 new customers. CNet Data Services provides a standardized multilinqual database of detailed technology product descriptions, technical specifications and product images.

    CNet has developed other software tools before and sold them in return for equity. In July 1996, CNet sold its PRISM content publishing system to Vignette Corp. (Nasdaq: VIGN), which later went public and became a major Internet software company. Vignette merged PRISM with its own tools to generate Web content.