Is K-Tel a one-hit wonder?
That is the question on the minds of analysts and investors after the music marketer's breathtaking climb and subsequent return to earth.
It started in mid-April, shortly after K-Tel announced that it was expanding its sales of oldies-but-goodies to the Internet. The news pushed the company's share price from 3.31 to 7.46 in a single day, adjusting for a stock split that became effective on May 8.
The momentum continued, with Stock Investor Trading News initiating coverage of K-Tel soon after the announcement, with a "long-term and short-term strong buy" rating. By early May, K-Tel was at 33.93--again after adjusting for the split.
Now, however,the company is singing a different tune. By mid-May it was trading in the mid-20s, and today it closed down 1.93, at 9.31.
Investors haven't been the only ones getting out. According to financial information provided by Bloomberg, five of K-Tel's top officers filed to sell nearly 379,000 shares once the stock began its descent. The Wall Street Journal, citing data from CDA/Investnet, reported that that the five executives planned to sell 542,978 shares.
A K-Tel spokesman said he could not confirm the accuracy of these numbers. In fact, the company remains publicly bullish about its music business on the Net.
Last month, it struck a marketing and services agreement with @Home, which provides high-speed Net access via cable lines. On June 1, the company said it also would market videos on the Net, through "K-Tel Express," its newly launched online service.
Two analysts, however, said that K-Tel's ride is a cautionary tale for investors--many of them individuals--who leap at Internet stocks before taking a good look. With the success of companies such as Yahoo and Amazon.com, investors have paid increasing attention to up-and-coming Internet companies that, over the past month or so, have flooded the market with announcements.
"Every announcement was greeted with just incredible euphoria...as if announcing that you're going to sell your product over the Internet justified the value that Yahoo or Excite has," said Andrea Williams, an analyst at Volpe Brown Whelan.
K-Tel's slide signals that the reality of the overvalued Net stocks is slowly setting in, she added. "Investors are realizing that being a successful Internet company and obtaining valuation should and does require more than saying you're going to launch an Internet site," Williams said.
Axxel Knutson, director of institutional research at Janssen Meyers Associates in New York City, agreed.
"We thought [K-Tel] was overvalued when we first did the analysis," says Knutson, who initiated coverage of the stock with a "sell" rating on April 23. He since has taken the unusual step of reiterating his rating three times, with the latest reiteration coming today.
"The more I look at it, the more I see there isn't a single fundamental reason why anyone should buy it" at current levels, Knutson explained. He warned that, in addition to an irrational bullishness for Internet stocks, investors are suffering from an overload of quick, sometime less-than-accurate information about new stocks.
"When you start seeing these momentum plays, you can get these exaggerated price movements out of them," he said. "It's beginning to propel stocks down as well."