E-Tailing Stocks Seek a Way Out of the Mud

Egghead.com rises after issuing a press release about its high ranking among e-commerce sites.
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It wouldn't be surprising to see a traditional e-tailer attempting to pass itself off someday soon as a business-to-business play. Why not? E-tailers have, for the most part, been abandoned by investors in favor of the more highflying and potentially more lucrative

B2B plays. And in this age, investors seem to react first and ask questions later.

The latest example of a company that used the power of a slow news week to promote itself is

Egghead.com

(EGGS)

. The stock was up 5 15/16, or 51%, at 17 1/2 after the company

issued a press release saying Egghead.com had moved into the top 10 e-commerce sites, according to

Media Metrix

. It's too bad the news was dated. The Media Metrix numbers were released Dec. 23. Egghead has come off a session high of 24.

The other big news in the e-tailing sector was

Value America's

(VUSA)

announcement that it would be narrowing its focus and laying off 47% of its workforce. The company said it has redefined itself as a "specialized online electronics, technology and office products superstore." The site had offered everything from fashion and apparel to patio furniture.

TSC

took a detailed look at the announcement in an earlier

piece. Value America was down 31/32, or 14%, at 5 29/32 on the news.

Value America's woes weren't really impacting the rest of the e-tailers.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

was up 15/16, or 1.1%, at 83 1/4. Value America's problems may even help Amazon as many experts are predicting a shakeout among e-commerce plays with only the strong surviving, and Amazon is seen as the strongest. And after a one-day halt to its slide,

eToys

(ETYS)

was back on the downside, off 1/2, or 1.7%, at 28 1/2.

Also stuck in the mud was

priceline.com

(PCLN)

. priceline got a modest pop Monday on plans for an auction-related site, but has floundered since. It may have been hurt by yesterday's report from

Merrill Lynch

that showed December airline bookings were "anemic" because people are staying at home for their millennial celebrations. priceline was down 7/8, or 1.7%, at 51. It reached a low of 50 1/2 earlier, equal to its all-time low made Nov. 5.

Goldman Sachs

e-commerce analyst Anthony Noto put out a note on the e-tailing sector, saying the postholiday selloff presented "attractive opportunities." Noto wrote that the recent pullback reflected a year-end decline potentially due to tax-loss selling or reduced exposure in front of quarter-end results. He wrote that the sector could see price appreciation by mid- to late January in front of fourth-quarter numbers, similar to what occurred last year.