What happened

Shares of Inc. (NASDAQ:OSTK) climbed 41.7% in 2016, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as the internet retailer impressed the market with upbeat quarterly results and progress in both its retail and blockchain businesses.

So what

Overstock's first big jump came in February, when shares soared 23% after an encouraging fourth-quarter 2015 report but not so much because of its actual headline numbers. For perspective, Q4 2015 revenue climbed just 2% year over year, to $480 million, while net income was $110,000, or breakeven on a per-share basis and down from $0.06 per share in the same year-ago period. Management noted at the time, however, that profitability was held back by Overstock's investments in blockchain, the same capital markets technology used by bitcoin, as well as by a 4% contribution profit decline from its stumbling retail segment.

"I am exploring a possible synergy between these two wings of our business (retail and our capital markets innovation)," added Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne at the time, "but if it does prove out they will be separated."

Most recently, Overstock's third-quarter 2016 report in November caused shares to climb another 19% in a single day as the company's core retail business began to show signs of progress. Quarterly revenue climbed 13% year over year, to $441.6 million, while Overstock's net loss widened by roughly half from the same year-ago period, to $3.1 million, or $0.08 per share.

Nonetheless, Byrne insisted:

The retail business is reaccelerating and is fundamentally sound. It had a pre-tax loss of ($0.9) million in Q3, which included $3.9 million of impairment and bad debt expense related to an international minority investment. Our Medici business cost us $3.0 million pre-tax this quarter, but that was well worth it as we achieve real progress in our blockchain and fintech initiatives that others have yet to demonstrate.

Now what

Let it suffice to say, then, that investors will be on the edge of their seats looking for continued retail progress when Overstock releases its fourth-quarter 2016 results early next month. But for now, given the promise of Overstock's blockchain investments and the ongoing rebound of its retail segment, it's no surprise shares have climbed so much over the past year.