I'll concede that Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) CEO Patrick Byrne is a polarizing figure. You either love the colorful straight-shooter, or you hate his conspiracy theory-stirring ways.

However, I challenge even the most cynical bear to not admire Byrne's blunt assessment of this morning's uninspiring quarterly report.

"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play," he writes after leading off with a laundry list of the company's lackluster financials.

The comic phrase is overused, I know, but you don't expect to see it in an earnings release.

The market isn't amused. Shares of Overstock fell by as much as 16% this morning on the report. Revenue rose 17% to $186.9 million, but the company still posted a loss during the period on widening negative free cash flow. The company posted a loss, despite scoring an accounting gain on the repurchase of debt at a discount. Some of these factors are seasonal, naturally. Overstock remains EBITDA-positive and is generating positive operating cash flows over the span of the past four quarters.

When Byrne writes, "The path to profitability seems clearer than ever," it's not accompanied by a laugh track.

Profitability hasn't come easy for online retailers not named Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). Fashion specialist Bluefly (NASDAQ:BFLY) hasn't been able to turn the corner. Drugstore.com (NASDAQ:DSCM) is also coming off several years of losses, though analysts see the online drugstore posting a profit next year.

The recent narrowing of losses is encouraging at Overstock, even though analysts don't see profitability coming until 2010 at the earliest. With the company also restating several years of financials this morning, as a result of a botched implementation of an Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) enterprise resource planning program, it's just as well. The market may need time to warm up to Overstock.

Opportunistic nibblers may not care to wait. The stock has already been battered, trading at a quarter of its peak from last October. If deal-hungry shoppers flock to Overstock at attractive customer acquisition points, it may be one of the few winners over the upcoming holiday season.

Love him or hate him, at least the ownership experience will be entertaining.

Other ways to stock up: