March 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

While the broader market falls off a cliff, e-commerce stocks merely slide

Through the first nine weeks of 2009, the Dow and S&P each dropped more than 24% in value. That makes the nearly 7% decline in the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index of e-commerce stocks seem almost look like good news.

Investors remain convinced that retailers that sell on the web will do better than those that sell in stores, analysts say. And that’s being reflected in the relatively strong showing of e-commerce stocks in the early part of 2009.

Relatively strong, that is, compared to the broader market, which has been woeful. The two major barometers of stock market performance, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, each are down more than 24% since Jan. 1. By contrast, the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index of 25 e-commerce companies is down just a hair under 7% this year.

Since Internet Retailer began its weekly tracking of the Online Retail Index early in February, the e-commerce companies have consistently outperformed the Dow and the S&P; 500. Last week was no exception, as the Online Retail Index declined by 2.5% for the week ended Friday, March 6, much less than the Dow, which was down 6.2%, or the S&P; 500 index, which fell 7.0%.

Nine of the 25 e-commerce stocks gained in price last week, while 16 declined. Leading the way was Systemax Inc., operator of TigerDirect.com and other e-retail sites, which was up 12.1%. Systemax is No. 22 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Here are the best-performing stocks last week in the Online Retail Index and the percentage price increase for the week:

  • Systemax, 12.1%
  • DemandTec, 6.8%
  • Digital River, 6.7%
  • Netflix, 5.4%
  • CyberSource, 2.3%

Here are the Online Retail Index stocks that fell in price the most last week and the percentage price decline for the week:

  • United Online (owner of FTD.com), -12.9%
  • RealNetworks, -12.2%
  • Omniture, -11.2%
  • Blue Nile, -9.8%
  • Akamai, -9.6%.

The 25 companies in the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index are: Akamai Technologies, Amazon.com Inc., American Greetings Corp., Art Technology Group Inc., Bidz.com Inc., Blue Nile Inc., CyberSource Corp., DemandTec Inc., Digital River Inc., Drugstore.com Inc., eBay Inc., GSI Commerce Inc., Interwoven Inc., Keynote Systems Inc., LivePerson Inc., Netflix Inc., NutriSystem Inc., Omniture Inc., Overstock.com Inc., PetMed Express Inc., RealNetworks Inc., Shutterfly Inc., Systemax Inc., United Online Inc. (owner of FTD.com) and VistaPrint Ltd.

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