December 27, 2005, 12:00 AM

Holiday sales up, but at a slower rate of growth, at Overstock.com

Overstock won’t report Q4 results before the end of January. But citing brand positioning spending, President Patrick Byrne says year to year holiday growth, in previous years three or four times the national average, will slow.

Marketing and other expenses attached to maximizing holiday season performance will contribute to season over season growth at Overstock that’s lower than in previous years, according to a holiday sales update released by Overstock.com. President Patrick Byrne stated that Overstock’s fourth quarter growth is coming in at about two times the industry average rather than three to four times the average as in previous fourth quarters.

Revenue growth for the year will fall in the targeted range of 60% to 100%, but earnings will be a percentage or two less than the targeted breakeven net income, defined as greater than or equal to 1% of revenue, he says. Byrne also has stated the company will break even or show positive results for the quarter on an EBIDTA basis. However, cash flows for the year will be negative due to build in inventory balances, he adds.

Byrne calls Overstock’s holiday season “nice, but not as nice as we’ve had in the past or as I’d hoped for.” He adds that to support a strategic decision to boost the brand in consumers` eyes this season, the company spent more than anticipated. “To get above the noise, we spent a few more dollars than we had hoped, but in my experience, over time, those dollars will pay large dividends,” he says.

Overstock will announce its Q4 results in late January or early February.

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