Hastings Expands E-Commerce Presence

Shares of Hastings Entertainment (Nasdaq: HAST) were up sharply in early trading today, after the entertainment retailer announced plans to expand its e-commerce presence. Hastings, which already sells music, movies, books and video games via its Web site, says it is planning to launch a new e-commerce Web site at www.gohastings.com.

About 15 minutes after the stock market opened, Hastings was trading up more than 35 percent, climbing nearly four points to more than 14.

Valley Media Also Climbs

John H. Marmaduke, president and CEO of Hastings, said that strategic alliances with partners like music distributor Valley Media (Nasdaq: VMIX), “will provide one of the broadest assortments of entertainment products currently offered on the Web.”

Shares of Valley Media were also trading higher early today, up two points to 24-3/4.

In addition to using traditional distributors like Valley Media, Marmaduke said Hasting’s site also plans to embrace digital distribution. “We plan to offer online downloading of music titles,” he said.

Room To Grow

On March 16, Hastings announced record earnings of $398.7 million for 1998, up 11 percent from 1997.

Hastings stock, which went public in June 1998, is still well off its 52-week high of 36-7/8. Considering that Hastings, which runs 130 entertainment superstores in 18 states, is an established brand name that is now going head-to-head with companies like Amazon.com, the stock could have some room to climb. Hastings is profitable, unlike Amazon.com, and has a market capitalization of about $150 million, compared to Amazon.com’s $28 billion.

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