Amazon Blacks Out

Get out the diapers. Online shopping has grown like a weed in recent years. But on Monday, when its site went missing for several hours, Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) gave us a startling reminder that the key players, like bladder-busting toddlers, are still prone to the occasional accident.

In a report at ZDNet, Web performance monitor Keynote Systems said the e-commerce giant started experiencing problems yesterday morning at 8 a.m. Pacific time and that outages continued intermittently through 2:30 p.m. Pacific. It wasn't clear whether the site was the target of a deliberate attack or the victim of an internal glitch. Either way, the timing stinks.

Amazon blacked out after online retailers had a banner Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving -- known for its ability to put retailers "in the black" -- was a huge success as online shoppers booked more than $250 million in sales, up 41% from last year, according to researcher comScore Media Metrix. Shoppers even got out on turkey day, stuffing virtual shopping carts with $133 million in goods. That's double last year's total.

The good news is that last month's shopping could account for only 17% of expected online retail sales this season, according to a research report compiled by Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , Nielsen/NetRatings, and pollster Harris Interactive (Nasdaq: HPOL  ) . No doubt Amazon would get much of the remaining business, so long as its virtual doors remain open. It's worth noting that the company is expecting a windfall: Fourth-quarter guidance calls for revenue of $2.29 billion to $2.54 billion, or growth of as much as 31% over last year.

Will it now be harder for Amazon to make its numbers? Probably. But investors shouldn't overreact the way Wall Streeters did when Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT  ) Thanksgiving hiccup came to light. If anything, Foolish stock pickers ought to be looking to profit if smaller online retailers such as Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK  ) or Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick RedEnvelope (Nasdaq: REDE  ) see their shares spark and sputter on Amazon's blackout.

For related Foolishness:

Has all this gift-giving talk imbued you with the holiday spirit? If so, check out our annualFoolanthropy charity driveand support a worthy cause this season.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers has never blacked out, though he did live through New York's famous 1977 blackout. Tim doesn't own stock in any of the companies mentioned. To get a peek at his weird habits and portfolio, check out his Fool profile, which is here.


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