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Barron's Report article puts cat among pigeons

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Dotcoms have rushed to refute claims made by a respected financial magazine that at least 51 Net firms are on the verge of running out of cash. Research carried out by Pegasus Research International for Barron's, the Dow Jones & Company's business and financial weekly magazine, claimed that time was running out for some dotcoms. It claimed things were so bad that some e-companies could not rely simply on issuing more stock or bonds in a bid to raise more cash. In the very worst cases, companies would have to sell out or face financial oblivion, it said. Among those fingered by Barron's were CDNow, EarthWeb, ShopNow, Secure Computing, and VerticalNet. In a bid to minimise the potential damage caused by the research, dotcoms have rushed to their own defence. Irene Math, senior vp of finance at business portal, EarthWeb, said: "We respectfully disagree with Barron's methodology and conclusions about EarthWeb, because it does not take into account either future performance or recent capital-raising activity. "Their findings are clearly disputed by leading Internet analysts who examine detailed and current financial data that is publicly available." Mark Walsh, President and CEO of b-2-b outfit, VerticalNet, described the findings as "highly confusing". Tim McGurran, senior vp of operations and cfo of Net security e-business, Secure Computing Inc, said: "We respect Barron's reporting and their reputation within the investment community as a leading publication, but are compelled to correct the information provided in their recent article relative to our cash position. "Unfortunately, the Pegasus Research report utilised by Barron's, had a number of errors and oversights which were reported in the article addressing cash burn by Internet companies,'' he said. And CDNow issued a statement disputing the story which claimed the e-tailer had less than one month of cash remaining. "As a result of a strategic investment by Time Warner and Sony, CDNOW expects that it has sufficient cash for at least six months," the company said. Ooooooh, six months' worth of cash -- well, that's alright then. ® Tune in and turn on to Cash Register, for more tales of the Bubble Economy

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