Register.com (RCOM ), a dot-com survivor, has fallen hard: Its stock dived from 100 in early 2000 to 10 on Dec. 5. But it's making money and has strong growth prospects. So says Jonathan Cohen of JHC Capital Management in Greenwich, Conn., who thinks the stock is a good play on the growth of the Net. Also, he figures Register.com is one of the few attractive takeover targets around. Its business is registering Web domain names--those ending, for example, in .com, .net, and .org. In 2002, says Cohen, Register.com will get a big boost when new top-level domains, in which it owns a controlling stake, are opened--such as .pro, available to doctors, lawyers, accountants, and the like. Cohen says encryption, verification, and authentication will be required for the registrations, thus swelling Register.com's revenues.
Companies that might find Register.com attractive, says Cohen, include Yahoo!, which would benefit from Register.com's strong cash position and revenues. "Register.com's balance sheet remains solid," says Todd Weller, an analyst at Legg Mason Wood Walker, who rates the stock a strong buy. He sees earnings of 50 cents a share in 2002. The company has cash of $180 million, or $5 a share. There is limited downside risk at the stock's current price, he adds. Register.com has only 10% of the market (compared with 80% for VeriSign), but it has a 20% share of the high-end corporate domain business. Yahoo and Register.com declined comment.
By Gene G. Marcial