Stamps.com gains as Postal Service ponders Internet discount

Stamps.com shares moved up 44 cents, or 11 percent, to $3.22 Tuesday after the U.S. Postal Rate Commission recommended the creation of a discounted rate for First Class mail sent using Internet postage.

Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP) will now wait for approval from the Governors of the U.S. Postal Service. If they concur, it's likely the Postal Rate Commission will chop four cents off each item mailed through an online mail or shipping service.

"This recommendation is a huge vote-of-confidence for the emerging Internet postage category," said Frank Heselton, a former Assistant Postmaster General for Rates turned consultant, in a prepared release. "The creation of this new classification is a logical first step towards establishing a specific and permanent discount for users of Internet postage."

If the Postal Service ultimately institutes a discount, users of traditional, non-Internet postage meters will still pay the standard First Class rate -- soon to be raised to 34 cents -- while Stamps.com's customers will pay a lower rate.

Last quarter, Stamps.com topped analysts' estimates when it posted a loss of $38.5 million, or 80 cents a share, on sales of $4.2 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expects it to lose 69 cents a share in its fourth quarter.

The stock moved up to a 52-week high of $98.50 last November before falling to a low of $2.31 in October.

All five analysts following the stock rate it a "buy."