Editorial: Land Ho

Funny how Wall Street works. A cataloger beats its third-quarter earnings by 12 percent, its year-to-date earnings are up 258 percent and its inventory is down 39 percent. Meanwhile, sales are up 4.8 percent, and expenses have dropped 5.4 percent. Add in some reports from Gomez.com naming the firm as one of the top online sites for the holidays, and Keynote Systems ranking it as one of the top two sites in performance for people shopping online at work with an average response time of under four seconds (which means shoppers won’t get frustrated waiting for screens to load and actually may stay long enough to buy something).

Sound like a merry holiday season? Not exactly. Columnist Bill Dean dissects what went wrong with how analysts read the quarterly statement issued by Lands’ End on Nov. 11 (http://www.dmnews.com/articles/1999-11-15/5379.html) and why its stock plunged 33 percent that day. The stock didn’t recuperate last week either, dropping $4 more to close at just over $51.50 a share Nov. 17.

We live in a wacky Internet world, which is typified by stocks that can soar one day and bottom out the next. But the Net stocks need to be taken very seriously. A story in last week’s Internet World suggested some scenarios of Net companies acquiring some DM giants, including Amazon buying Federated (would they rename the parade?); Priceline taking over Cendant with its 32 million members in its discount-card franchises; and DoubleClick scooping up Young & Rubicam. Who cares how much brick and mortar a company has, it’s all about market capitalization and who has the cash.

Get Out Your Checkbooks

Columnist Cary H. Baer, meanwhile, tackles some serious issues facing the U.S. Postal Service (http://www.dmnews.com/articles/1999-11-15/5381.html), asking what it will do once First-Class mail volume starts declining in 2003. To make up that shortfall, it’ll have to eye other avenues, particularly Periodical and Standard-A mail. With the next rate increase, which will be filed in early 2000, insiders say we can expect to shell out at least 10 percent more. Ouch.

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