Four years after it was the subject of a call that helped define dot-com mania, Amazon's ( AMZN) price is again a matter of debate. Henry Blodget and his $400 price target may be gone, but skepticism over the online retailer's valuation lives on. It seems that lately the company's stock has been partying like it's 1999, climbing more than 50% just in the past three months. Although the company has reined in costs and is expected to post a profit this quarter on strong holiday sales, the question is whether Amazon deserves its rich valuation. It seems unlikely, given probable slower growth, uncertain success with high-margin inventory and its reliance on luring customers with margin-eating free shipping. "No matter how you slice and dice the numbers, in our opinion, Amazon is overvalued," wrote Prudential Securities analyst Mark Rowen in a research note issued on Friday. "We continue to believe that the company's growth patterns will not ultimately support the current market valuation." (Prudential Securities does not have any investment banking relationships with Amazon.) Rowen's report reiterated Prudential's sell rating on Amazon and reaffirmed a price target of $10 on Amazon shares. Following the report, the e-tailer's stock traded down 46 cents, or 2%, in early afternoon trading on the Nasdaq to $22.12. (It closed up 3 cents to 22.61). The company's stock has lost nearly $2, or 8%, since Monday, when it closed at $24.12. Despite the selloff, Amazon shares have doubled in value since the beginning of the year. Amazon is now trading at 188 times its estimated 2002 earnings and about 94 times its projected 2003 earnings, according to First Call. That puts Amazon in heady company. E-commerce rival eBay ( EBAY), which, unlike Amazon, has consistently posted profits and strong growth, is trading at a relative bargain of 84 times its estimated 2002 earnings. Meanwhile, Amazon's market capitalization of $8.5 billion edges that of offline rivals, such as Sears, Roebuck ( S) and J.C. Penney ( JCP), and is larger than the market value of Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, Abercrombie and Fitch and Toys "R" Us combined. By way of comparison, Amazon posted a loss of $567 million on $3.1 billion in sales last year, while Sears earned $735 million, or $2.24 per diluted share, on $41 billion in sales in the same period.