Amazon buys 49% stake in

Expanding marketer adds sporting goods

Electronic commerce

July 15, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

SEATTLE -- Inc., the largest Internet retailer, said yesterday that it has bought a 49 percent stake in, an online seller of sporting goods at closeout prices, in another move to expand aggressively beyond its original book business.

Closely held sells sporting goods such as Cannondale bicycling shoes, Woolrich outdoor clothing and golf clubs from Cleveland Golf at discounts of 20 percent to 90 percent.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed., which began by selling books online, is moving quickly to sell many types of goods, making it something like an online department store.

Tuesday, it added online toy and electronics stores to its Internet site. The company has also invested in Inc., Inc. and Inc.

"This just continues Amazon's full-service theme of offering everything under the sun," said Alan Mak, an Argus Research analyst with a "buy" rating on the stock.

Shares of rose $8.875 in trading yesterday to close at $135.

Seattle-based, founded by four investors, began selling products from its Web site in October, said Barry Devenney, a spokesman. also is based in Seattle.'s competitors in- clude Fogdog Sports' Web site, which sells sporting goods at full retail prices, and, which sells climbing gear and other outdoor sporting goods at discount prices. differs from competitors by selling indoor and outdoor sporting goods at closeout prices, Devenney said.

By investing in other Internet retailers such as, is getting more information about consumer behavior online and access to expertise in selling various kinds of goods, analysts said.

The companies has invested in "represent categories that Amazon thinks are going to be valuable long-term," said Derek L. Brown, an analyst with Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. He rates the stock a "strong buy."

If those companies become successful and expand, would have a clear path to acquiring them, Brown said.'s offerings also include music, videos and goods sold at auction.

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