For e-tailers, bad things come in more than threes.
Already this week,
said they'd close their (virtual) doors. Then, on Wednesday,
analyst Henry Blodget downgraded three other e-tailers,
, citing the incredibly difficult capital markets.
Blodget cut his ratings on the stocks (all Merrill banking clients) to neutral. Previously, he rated eToys intermediate-term neutral/long-term accumulate and rated Buy.com and Webvan both intermediate- and long-term accumulate.
He expects all three will have to raise additional money before breaking even, and in the current capital-constrained market, that might be difficult. Blodget estimates eToys has about three quarters of cash left before it needs to raise between $100 million and $150 million to fund operations as it crawls toward break-even. He estimates Webvan has between three and four quarters of cash left but needs another $80 million to $100 million to break even. And Buy.com likely has enough cash to reach break-even in 2002, but may need to raise "an unspecified amount of working capital," he said.
Raising money has been tough for consumer e-commerce companies since the spring's Nasdaq swoon. Every company in the entire sector, including industry biggie
, has seen its shares fall amid questions about profitability and how big they can get.
Buy.com's shares fell 25 cents, or 13%, to $1.69. eToys' shares fell 78 cents, or 23%, to $2.56. Webvan's shares fell 28 cents, or 17%, to $1.41. Just to put those valuations in perspective, eToys still trades at more than two times trailing 12-month sales, compared to
Toys R Us
, which trades at 0.35 times sales. Webvan trades at nearly five times sales, compared to
price-to-sales ratio of 0.88.