Wall Street can't seem to determine whether Overstock.com ( OSTK) is the next eBay or another looming dot-com disaster. The company's stock is up 58.4% this year and set a record high earlier this month. But the gain appears to be mainly the result of a short squeeze, and many investors and analysts remain sharply critical of the company and its prospects. "I'm not a believer that these guys are going to make money," said Rob Wilson, who covers the company for Tiburon Research Group. Last year, Overstock's profits declined even though its sales skyrocketed, Wilson noted. "That flies in the face of the conventional wisdom as to what everyone thought was going to be the case here." (He does not own Overstock shares and Tiburon does not do investment banking.) Predictably, CEO Patrick Byrne was more sanguine about the company's recent results, noting Overstock losses in recent quarters are far less than those of rival Amazon.com ( AMZN) when it had similar revenue. "We should come within a percent of breakeven this year," Byrne said in a
recent interview with TheStreet.com. "If we can keep it up, at some point -- people can doubt all they want -- but at some point, they're going to have to give credit to the franchise we've built." Last month, Byrne put his money where his mouth is, spending some $12.8 million to buy 620,000 shares of Overstock, according to regulatory filings. Byrne now beneficially owns some 6.8 million shares of Overstock, or about 40.6% of the company. Byrne's move came as investors were shorting some 44% of the company's public float, according to Yahoo! Finance. His purchase amounted to nearly 80% of the company's average daily trading volume, prompting many short-sellers to cover their bets and buy shares. Notably, Overstock shares are up 60% since Byrne's move.