December 7, 2009, 12:00 AM

E-commerce stocks get a bounce from strong online holiday sales

Several Wall Street analysts talked up e-commerce companies in the wake of the strong online retail sales over the Thanksgiving period. That helped the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index gain more than 5% for the week.

Wall Street was impressed with online retail sales over the Thanksgiving period, and it showed up last week in strong gains in share prices for e-commerce stocks.

The Internet Retailer Online Retail Index gained 5.2% for the week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up only 0.8% and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced only 1.3%.

“Stronger than expected online spending data contributed to share prices moving higher,” says analyst Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets. “We are still looking for ongoing healthy online trends over the remainder of the shopping season, however growth rates may moderate a bit.” Sebastian predicts 3-5% growth in online sales for the holiday period. Web measurement firm comScore Inc. reported online sales grew 7.4% from Thanksgiving Day through last Monday.

Analysts from such Wall Street firms as UBS Securities LLC and Morgan Stanley, as well as Lazard’s Sebastian, issued reports noting the strong online retail sales. All three reports highlighted e-commerce technology provider GSI Commerce Inc. as one of the companies likely to benefit from consumer spending shifting to the web. GSI’s stock was up nearly 9% last week.

Overall, 22 of the 25 online retailer and e-commerce technology provider stocks tracked by the Internet Retailer Online Retail Index gained for the week. Leading the way was Drugstore.com, which reported it had its best day ever on the Monday after Thanksgiving, typically one of the heaviest online shopping days of the holiday season.

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

  • Drugstore.com, 17.0%
  • 1-800-Flowers.com, 14.8%
  • VistaPrint, 10.5%%
  • CyberSource, 9.8%
  • GSI, 8.9%

Here are the Online Retail Index stocks that performed least well last week and the percentage change in stock price for the week:

  • Netflix, -2.8%
  • American Greetings, -1.0%
  • Bidz.com, -0.9%
  • Digital River, +0.3%
  • Overstock, +1.8%

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., Overstock.com Inc., PetMed Express Inc., RealNetworks Inc., Shutterfly Inc., Systemax Inc., U.S. Auto Parts Network, United Online Inc. (owner of FTD.com) and VistaPrint Ltd.

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