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Excite rallying on Net spree

Is the search firm destined to become the next Internet stock priced at $100 per share?

Is Excite (XCIT) destined to become the next Internet stock priced at $100 per share?

The No. 2 Internet directory still has a ways to go before joining Yahoo in that category, but the shares leaped into record territory again today led by the Net stock frenzy and new product announcements.

Excite shares closed up 7-1/8, or more than 10 percent, at 76. The stock has traded as high as 70-5/8 and as low as 7-1/2 in the past 52 weeks.

Other Internet issues, including Yahoo, America Online (AOL), Lycos (LCOS), and Infoseek (SEEK) also were trading higher. The rally came as many Net stocks--excluding Excite--took a breather yesterday. (See related story)

Excite joined Lycos yesterday in announcing that it would offer its own version of a Web "portal" to its users. The company reiterated it wants to become a personalized, free online service.

It faces stiff competition, however. For example, AOL soon is expected to launch a feature to customize news on its Web site--dubbed "My News"--divided into top headlines, business, entertainment and sports.

On Thursday, Excite is expected to announce first-quarter earnings after the market closes. According to First Call, the mean estimate is for the company to post a loss of 35 cents per share, narrowed from a loss of 37 cents per share for the like quarter a year earlier. The range of broker estimates is from a loss of 27 cents per share to a loss of 42 cents per share.