Netscape soars on speculation

Summary:Here's a novel way to send your stock price climbing: Cancel a public speaking appearance before a group of investors and watch Wall Street go into a feeding frenzy.Not that it necessarily crafted its decision with such Machiavellian intent, but Netscape Communications Corp.

Here's a novel way to send your stock price climbing: Cancel a public speaking appearance before a group of investors and watch Wall Street go into a feeding frenzy.

Not that it necessarily crafted its decision with such Machiavellian intent, but Netscape Communications Corp. (NSCP) watched its stock rise nearly 9 percent after canceling an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference in New York.

In recent days and weeks, Netscape has been reported to be a merger candidate. A story in the Wall Street Journal last week suggested that Netscape will sell all or parts of the company to either America Online Inc. (AOL), Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW), or Oracle Corp. (ORCL).

At the time, Netscape declined comment. A Netscape spokeswoman said today that the company does not comment "on rumor and speculation."

However, as word spread, traders scrambled for their phones. Activity in Netscape shares more than tripled from their daily average volume of 2.6 million.



More Netscape


Netscape officials say their effort to widen the market for their browser is starting to pay off.




The spin on the Street was that some sort of Netscape deal was still alive. However, some analysts suggested that the company may not want to face hostile questioning about its finances.

Last month, the company reported a wider-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter. The loss was $82.3 million, or 92 cents a share on a diluted basis -- compared with net income of $8.2 million, or nine cents a share, for the year-earlier period.

The company's sales increased 9 percent to $125.3 million from $115.2 million during the same period a year ago. However, the company's battles with Microsoft Corp. took their toll.

As it turned out, Netscape actually sent in its cancellation notice two weeks ago. The company said it bailed out of the Goldman Sachs conference for a very simple reason: "We've actually done a number of investor conferences over the last six to eight weeks," said the spokeswoman, Allison Johnson. "We've briefed the investment community in person as well as in several conference calls. We declined to attend the Goldman conference because there's no new news."

Topics: Oracle, Browser, Microsoft

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