SHARES IN Great Universal Stores received a welcome boost last month when the company was tipped for e-commerce stardom at a UK conference on internet shares organised by US stockbroking giant Merrill Lynch. GUS shares rose 23p to 693p following analyst Nick Hawkins' recommendation that the group's combination of state-of-the-art technology and high street retailing skills gave it all the credentials vital to success in online retailing. Hawkins noted that GUS, the UK's largest mail order operator, already has the customer database, e-commerce software, and delivery network [White Arrow, the UK's second largest carrier] needed for commercial success on the Internet.

The Thundering Herd's cowpokes also dusted-off their crystal ball to predict that US consumers will spend over $100bn on the web within the next five years.