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Five Excite insiders to divest

As portal stocks have fallen since sharply rising this summer, five executives at the company file to sell more than $9 million in stock.

As Internet portal stocks have seen some softness since their sharp rise earlier this summer, five Excite executives have filed to sell more than $9 million in stock.

Excite has seen its share price leap from around 25 a share in early June to hit the 55-a-share range in early July. But the stock since has trended down to close at 40.50 today, 3.125 points lower than yesterday's close.

"When stocks are in retreat, it's interesting to see if insiders would be willing to sell," said Craig Columbus, an insider trading analyst with Disclosure and a columnist for News.com. "If insiders are selling at lower points, that's a thing to watch for."

Excite last week released the lock-up restrictions on 1.3 million of its shares from a recent secondary offering. Lock-up restrictions prohibit the sale of stock in an offering for a designated period of time. The company had said certain shareholders would be able to sell the shares as of last Friday.

Graham Spencer, Excite's chief technology officer and a cofounder of the company, has filed to sell the largest stake among the five executives divesting. Spencer plans to sell 100,000 shares valued at $4.2 million, according to recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He sold 25,000 shares in June, which brought his holdings down to 1 million shares after adjusting for a 2-for-1 stock split the company issued last month.

Excite CEO and president George Bell has filed to sell 20,000 shares valued at $841,500, according to regulatory filings. Those shares represent only a small portion of Bell's total holdings of 472,270 shares on a post-split basis.

Joseph Kraus, a cofounder and senior vice president of the company, has filed to sell 65,000 shares valued at $2.8 million. He filed to sell 25,000 shares last June, which leaves him with 625,546 shares on a post-split basis.

Brett Bullington, an executive vice president at Excite, plans to sell 15,908 shares valued at $688,136, according to SEC filings. Bullington sold 17,500 shares last June, which brought his holdings down to 340,548 shares on a post-split basis.

Finally, Christopher Vail, the company's general counsel, has filed to sell 15,000 shares with a value of $623,906.

Portal companies like Lycos Yahoo, and, to a lesser degree, Infoseek saw their stocks virtually double in value after a string of portal investments by large media companies. In mid-June, for example, Disney took a 43 percent stake in Infoseek, and NBC purchased nearly a 20 percent stake in Snap. (Snap is a division of CNET: The Computer Network.)

Portal stocks since have cooled a bit, however, giving up some of their gains as the markets overall have hit by growing fears about Asia's economic crisis and stalled corporate earnings.