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Penny stock soars on Amazon "partnership"

In the circus-like atmosphere of Internet stocks, freakish things can happen.

    In the circus-like atmosphere of Internet stocks, freakish things can happen.

    Online auction company saw its stock rise by nearly 40 percent yesterday and another 34 percent today after announcing that it had been "accepted" into the Associates program. This despite the fact that is one of more than 200,000 Amazon associates and just about anyone with a Web site can join the program.

    It wasn't the first time that a lesser-known Internet stock benefited from the "" effect. In January, fish-oil firm Zapata saw its stock leap more than 20 percent in a single day when it announced a similar association for its Web site. (See related story)'s stock ended the day at 1.5625, up 0.4375 from yesterday's close of 1.1250. The stock began trading under the new symbol UBUY on Monday.

    Although a company executive attributed the jump in the company's stock to the company's increased visibility, analyst Vernon Keenan of Keenan Vision said the rise probably had more to do with the exuberance of what he deemed "uninformed" Internet investors.

    "It's the law of P.T. Barnum," Keenan said. "There's a sucker born every minute."

    Amazon spokesman Paul Capelli speculated that the stock's jump could be the result of's association with the bookseller. "We've seen that because we've enjoyed and continue to enjoy great success that when people speak about doing business with, it gets attention," he said. owns the SportsAuction Web site, which offers photographs, trading cards, and other sports memorabilia. The company plans to develop other niche auction sites in the future.

    According to Capelli, the Associates program began in 1996 and now has more than 200,000 members. Amazon pays each of its associates a referral fee for business the associates send to Amazon. The fee ranges from 5 to 15 percent depending on the item sold.

    Although Amazon reserves the right to reject sites because of objectionable content, just about anyone with a Web presence can become an Amazon Associate. Members can join by filling out a form on Amazon's Web site.

    Amazon does list some of its associates on its Web site, but not all of them. is not currently listed.

    Martin Meads, senior vice president of business operations at, conceded that becoming an Amazon Associate does not give the company a presence on the Amazon site. However, he said that is trying to increase its visibility and becoming an Amazon Associate was just one of those steps.

    "It is our intention to get our name out there," Meads said. "We run a nice business. Nobody knows too much about this."

    Meads said the company's SportsAuction site, which has been running for more than three years, attracts some 1 to 2 million page views per month.