May 7, 2009, 12:00 AM

E-commerce stocks rebound rapidly, up 36% for 2009

Investors register their conviction that consumers will continue to shift their shopping to the web, bidding up the 25 stocks in the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index at a much faster rate than the recovery of the broader stock market.

Investors appear convinced that consumers will continue to shift their buying to the web, and have bid up the prices of the 25 stocks in the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index at a much faster rate than the recovery of the broader stock market.

As of the market close Wednesday afternoon, the Online Retail Index was up 36% for the year. While the e-commerce stocks collectively sank 39% during 2008, that was only slightly worse than the 37% drop in the NASDAQ and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, and the 34% decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The tech-heavy NASDAQ has recovered 9.1% since the first of the year, while the S&P; is up 0.8% and the Dow down 4.1%.

“The Internet sector has rallied not only because 2009 is showing some stability, but also because a number of companies are showing some strength in market share and growth trends in an otherwise dismal economy,” says Colin Sebastian, senior vice president of equity research at Lazard Capital Markets, who covers several e-commerce stocks. “Amazon is clearly performing well relative to the broader retail segment, and many of its online competitors; eBay is showing some signs of stability, albeit with a lot of work left to do, and even smaller companies such as GSI Commerce and Digital River are benefiting from traditional offline companies investing more to build out the online channel. Going forward, the key will be for these companies to show ongoing stability, if not improving growth trends, particularly as we move closer to the next holiday period.”

Twenty of the 25 stocks in the Online Retail Index are ahead for the year. Leading the way are three online retailers: VistaPrint is up 96.6%, Shutterfly 80.5% and Blue Nile 80.4%.

Here are the best-performing stocks so far in 2009 in the Online Retail Index and the percentage price increase for each:

  • VistaPrint, 96.6%
  • Shutterfly, 80.5%
  • Blue Nile, 80.4%%
  • ATG, 76.7%%
  • Amazon.com, 59.9%

Here are the Online Retail Index stocks that have performed least well year to date and the percentage decline in each stock price for 2009:

  • RealNetworks, -23.0%
  • PetMed Express, -9.4%
  • 1-800-Flowers.com, -9.2%
  • Bidz.com, -9.1%
  • DemandTec, -6.0%.

The 25 companies in the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index are: 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., 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., 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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