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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

AsiaweekTimeAsia NowAsiaweek technology

DECEMBER 3, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 48

E-vesting: A Tale of Two Net Stocks
China.com shares rocketed, but it was Japan's Trend Micro - a rare profitable Net play - that led the way
By JIM ERICKSON

China.com has yet to earn much respect in some quarters, owing largely to the Internet portal's low popularity with a crucial target market, mainland net surfers. "We don't think [China.com] is worth covering," sniffed one Asian technology stock analyst when asked to comment on its stock. But in the U.S., the Nasdaq-listed, Hong Kong-based company doesn't need credibility for punters to go crazy over its shares.

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departments

Pulse: What well-dressed Borgs will be wearing, a digital diary, I-privacy and something gooey
Politics.com: As the campaign trail and the information superhighway collide, India's politicians navigate a new path to voters
Face Off: Apple's colorful iBook laptop has arrived in Asia. We see how it rates against the industry workhorse, IBM's ThinkPad
Asiaweek/CNN Internet Index: China.com shares rocketed, but it was Japan's Trend Micro - a rare profitable Net play - that led the way
E-vesting: Having trouble managing your investments? Online portfolio-trackers can monitor your Net gains and losses
Toolbox: These days anybody can be a DJ. All you need is a PC, some free software and a voice as loud as your shirt
B2B: Korea's Samsung is turning its customers -- and its employees -- on to the power of the Internet
Wired Exec: Narong Chivangkur, CEO, Momentum (Asia)


The Asiaweek/CNN Internet Index as of November 20, 1999 - Click Here for the latest

Positive news, however vague, hits the Nasdaq these days like chum tossed into shark-infested waters - just a little cupful can stir up a great boiling frenzy. When China and the U.S. reached a long-awaited trade agreement Nov. 15, China.com shares were suddenly and sharply in play. In a week of wild swings, CHINA started at $58 and ended at $117.69, gaining more than 100%. China's imminent accession to the World Trade Organization was viewed by the market as a plus for China. com, because the deal appeared to clear the way for foreigners taking stakes in mainland Internet companies - and China.com is sitting on a post-IPO bank account of roughly $150 million, much of it likely earmarked for investments and buyouts. However intangible the WTO fallout may be, news of the deal alone was enough for day-traders in America to send the stock as high as $137. When the rally weakened and the price began plunging late in the week, China.com officials dumped gasoline on the sputtering fire by announcing a two-for-one stock split - resulting in a 26% daily gain on Nov. 19, (followed by a 7% gain to almost $126 on Nov. 22).

For those made queasy by the extreme volatility of shares in loss-making dot-com companies, we have some information to settle the digestion. The best-performing stock in the Asiaweek/CNN Internet Index for the last two months was not China.com. Top performer of late has been Tokyo-based Trend Micro, and amid all the market madness this is rather refreshing. Merrill Lynch analyst Mahendra Negi calls Trend Micro "an Internet company with earnings." It does not sell books or CDs online. The company has a global franchise providing anti-virus software to the world's corporations, and commands nearly two-thirds of the virus-protection software market in Japan. Operating profits are growing at a rate of 60% a year, and Negi expects the rate is sustainable over the next several years. Corporations are increasingly dependent upon networks. They need to filter their external communications traffic for destructive micro-organisms, and that presents Trend Micro with an expandable customer base, Negi reasons.

However, in October he downgraded Trend Micro from an "accumulate" rating to "neutral" because shares had grown too pricey. The stock was up 135% between Sept. 17 and Nov. 20; it's risen more than 2.5 times since June 30.

Trend Micro has been a major contributor to the Asiaweek/CNN Internet Index's 61% advance since its inception June 30. Over the last two months, the group has been posting its best results to date. Of 20 stocks in the index, 17 advanced in the period from Sept. 17 to Nov. 20. Besides Trend Micro, big gainers were South Korean telecom/Internet access provider Dacom (up 102%) and China.com (up 71%). The only major underperformer has been Hong Kong's Wharf Holdings, which slid 12%. The conglomerate is spinning off its Internet and cable-TV operations in November, so we'll be dropping the parent from the index shortly.

A final note: We've changed the name of our techstock portfolio to the Asiaweek/CNN Internet Index. The change reflects a co-branding arrangement with Asiaweek's television sibling CNN. To follow the index's performance on a regular basis, you can now find it on the Internet at www.asiaweek.com/techindex. It will also be featured regularly on CNN's BizAsia show, which airs throughout the region at 6.30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Hong Kong time), and on CNN's Asia Business Morning program between 6.30 a.m. and 9 a.m. (Hong Kong).

Technology Home | Asiaweek Home

AsiaNow


A Tale of Two Net Stocks: China.com shares rocketed, but it was Japan's Trend Micro - a rare profitable Net play - that led the way (December 3, 1999)

Taking Stock of Tech: After a shaky start, the Asiaweek.com Portfolio found its legs. Now the index includes two racier Internet companies (October 1, 1999)

The Asiaweek.com Portfolio A list of 20 Asian stocks that are, or aspire to be, Internet and information technology players (June 25, 1999)

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