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Rising Tide at eBay

The conventional wisdom that investors should avoid e-commerce companies in favor of Internet media names hasn't panned out lately.

In fact, shares of eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN) each rose more than 17% in August. Though both stocks are down substantially for the year, last month they outperformed Google (GOOG), which rose less than 1%, and Yahoo! (YHOO), which gained 7%.

Another e-commerce stock, IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), the parent of the HSN cable-shopping channel, jumped 13%. During that same period, the Nasdaq Composite index jumped 5.9%.

This may signal a change in fortune for these stocks, which still are out of favor with analysts, who caution against reading too much into these price moves. Indeed, eBay and Amazon are both down more than 30% this year, while IAC is little changed.

"There is a price where any stock becomes attractive, especially ones with powerful brand names and significant share," says Darren Chervitz of Jacob Asset Management, which owns shares of Google, Yahoo! and eBay among its $75 million in assets under management. "If the consumer stays healthy, then we are entering the best months for these companies. The stock prices usually anticipate that."

Though the growth of e-commerce is slowing, it's still pretty strong. JupiterKagan estimates that online retail sales will reach $95 billion this year, up 18% from last year. That compares with a 4.7% jump in overall retail sales projected by the National Retail Federation.

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