Media Medium
26 October 2000

FREESERVE

Freeserve unlikely to freefall

Freeserve's stars are full of contradictions but by September next
year this Cancerian should be reaping the benefits of its bold nature.

Freeserve is the latest ISP to run into trouble with unmetered off-peak web access. With many of its 250,000 account holders logged on for hours at a time, its costs were becoming unsustainable and it has trimmed 'unreasonable' users and suspended new sign-ups. The fall in its share price has pitched Freeserve out of the FTSE 100, and analysts have cast doubt on the strength of its portal to attract revenue through advertising and other services. The collapse of talks with Deutsche Telekom's T-Online last June dented Freeserve's hopes of establishing a Europe-wide link-up to compete with U.S. competitors and its owner, Dixons, has failed to find another buyer.

Freeserve is full of contradictions and its long term prospects are difficult to call, for the astrologer as well as the analyst. Its horoscope (June 26 1999) is criss-crossed with oppositions and squares, giving it an erratic and intemperate quality. The opposition of reckless Mars and extravagant Jupiter is particularly troublesome and the astrological tradition warns of 'an inclination to give little and demand much' as well as 'a constant tendency to waste and prodigality' (Charles Carter 1930). As a homey Cancerian with its Moon in grab-a-freebie Sagittarius, Freeserve has expanded rapidly in the domestic market and its recent troubles are less significant than they might seem, even though the share price might jitter from mid- November right through to early April. Pluto's disruptive conjunction to the Moon in its overseas zone also puts a question mark over foreign expansion.

However, in March this year, its horoscope clicked into a positive new phase as speedy Mercury, planet of trade and indicator of its customer base, moved into generous Leo, coinciding with the introduction of unmetered access. It will be September 2001 before Mercury reaches the Moon and Freeserve reaps the benefits of its bold strategies. For any investor, including Dixons, that looks like the right moment to take a profit and sell.

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