Nasdaq To Say Bye-Bye to Buy.com

Beleaguered electronics e-tailer Buy.com (Nasdaq: BUYX) suffered another jolt of bad news Thursday when it was informed by the Nasdaq stock exchange that the company’s shares will be delisted.

Aliso Viejo, California-based Buy.com said it had requested a formal hearing to fight the notice.

“However, there can be no assurance that the panel will grant the company’s request for continued listing,” the company said.

While not fatal in itself, losing the prestige of the Nasdaq means raising additional capital will be nearly impossible for Buy.com, Morningstar.com analyst David Kathman told the E-Commerce Times.

“Getting delisted has a huge effect on a stock’s liquidity, and makes it much, much harder to recover from woes like those Buy.com is facing,” Kathman said.

A week ago, Buy.com was listed among a handful of dot-com shares that were being removed from the Russell 3000 stock index, furthering lowering the stock’s profile among institutional investors.

Death Knell

Buy.com can take little comfort from history. The past two years have seen several high-profile e-tailers quickly go from delisted to defunct — often in a matter of weeks. Delisting was of the last signposts before the closures of failed dot-coms Pets.com, eToys and Garden.com.

Kathman sees few options for Buy.com and says a last-minute acquisition is not likely.

“I can’t imagine who would want to buy it now,” the analyst said. “Not only is it in terrible shape financially, but it outsources its fulfillment and similar operations, so there isn’t even much infrastructure for a potential buyer to be interested in.”

Buying Time

An aggressive cost-cutting plan that included laying off about half of its workforce early this year might have bought Buy.com some extra time, however.

The e-tailer said last month that its cash supplies should last the company until early next year. Buy.com also said it ended the first quarter of 2001 with about US$33 million in cash on hand, but said that $20 million of that total is wrapped up in secured notes.

Long Way Down

For a time, Buy.com vied with Amazon.com for the top spot in U.S. online sales, winning praise for its customer-service policies. It also pursued an ambitious international expansion, opening in both Canada and the UK. However, the UK operation was later sold to British retail giant John Lewis Partnership.

After Buy.com went public in February 2000, its shares hit $35, but began dropping not long after. The stock has not traded above the $1 level since January 2001.

Defections and Suits

The e-tailer has seen several executive defections, including losing its chairman and its chief financial officer in February. The company has also suffered the departure of four board members, including two who represented the firm’s major venture capital backer, Softbank Capital Partners.

On another front, Buy.com sued the PGA Tour in March after the Tour signed a deal to have a division of USA Networks run its e-commerce operations — a move that Buy.com said was a breach of contract. According to Buy.com, the contract it had with the PGA Tour required the Tour to engage in good faith and exclusive negotiations with Buy.com regarding any e-commerce opportunity that might produce mutual benefit.

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