Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hard Sell: OSTK

We've berated Overstock (OSTK) quite a bit as of late.

Then again, who hasn't?

If you've never listened in on an OSTK conference call, you're missing out some some of the most salacious stuff Wall Street has to offer.

Shares of OSTK have been trounced ever since CEO Pat Byrne -- caught in a catatonic state of corporate paranoia -- claimed that there was a "conspiracy" against him and his company.

What conspiracy?

OSTK is an online liquidator that's mired in operational woes and subsequently hemorrhaging money.

Of course the shorts will target a company with travails like Overstock's.

There's a reason billionare investor Mark Cuban is short 20,000 shares of OSTK.

CEO Pat Byrne seems to be very good at scapegoating externalities and dressing his company's ($650 million dollar market value) shortcomings in convoluted tropes and pop culture innuendo.

So far this year, Overstock has burned through at least $80 million by our count.

That leaves Overstock with $77 million in cash and marketable securities, versus $290 million at the beginning of the year.

Even more, inventories have more than doubled to $90 million, and shopper acquisition costs continue to rise.

While shares are up since we first beat up on OSTK, we still hold to our underperform/sell rating on shares.

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