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Investors stick to Stamps.com on Intuit deal

Shares of the online postage company rise 33 percent after announcing that its services will be packaged with the software maker's financial products.

Shares of Stamps.com ended the day up 33 percent after the Internet postage company announced its services would be packaged with Intuit's financial software.

The stock was up $1.19 to $4.75 at the end of the regular trading session.

Stamps.com, which allows customers to print postage onto envelopes from their personal computers, will be integrated into the 2001 versions of Quicken Basic, Quicken Deluxe and Quicken Home & Business, the companies announced today.

The move is one of many partnerships forged by Stamps.com to increase its profile in the online postage marketplace.

According to a report by Goldman Sachs, Stamps.com embeds its software in the installation disks of AOL 5.0 and Hewlett-Packard printers. About a year ago, Microsoft said it would offer Stamps.com services through its Office Update Web site, giving the company access to millions of users of the popular Office suite of business software.

Stamps.com senior vice president Doug Walner said in a statement the partnership with Intuit would save consumers "valuable time and resources by eliminating the hassle of making trips to the post office."

The stock has traded as high as $98.50 and as low as $3.50 this year. Shares of Intuit rose $8.56, or almost 19 percent, to $54.63 at the end of regular trading, following a bullish conference call yesterday in which the company projected strong sales growth for fiscal 2001.

Stamps.com commands 80 percent of the market for online postage, but experts question whether the relatively small market can support several large competitors. Roughly 300,000 people use online stamps, according to a report by Goldman Sachs analyst Deane M. Dray.

Stamps.com has yet to be profitable, losing $34.4 million in the first quarter of 2000 on revenues of $3.7 million.

Stamps.com faces increasing competition not only from direct competitors such as E-Stamp and Pitney Bowes' ClickStamp Online, but also from online bill paying services that eliminate the need for postage entirely.