Press Release Source: Stamps.com
Over 600,000 PhotoStamps Ordered on Final Day of Market Test
Monday October 4, 4:37 pm ET
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP - News) announced today that on September 30, the final day of the market test for PhotoStamps(TM), it received an overwhelming customer response with more than 600,000 PhotoStamps ordered in the final 24 hour period. Overall customer response to the market test of the new PhotoStamps product has been very positive, with more than 130,000 sheets, or 2,600,000 individual PhotoStamps, ordered during the market test, which began with a public launch on August 10 and lasted 7 1/2 weeks through September 30.
"Customers embraced PhotoStamps from the very first day of launch of the market test. The momentum grew rapidly and the response on the final day of the test was simply phenomenal," said Stamps.com president and CEO Ken McBride. "In a very short period of time, this product became extremely popular with consumers and businesses. We also think PhotoStamps is a great program for the US Postal Service, generating over $1 million in USPS postage revenue -- the majority of which we believe is new revenue -- in only 52 days. It is clear that consumers and businesses want this product."
Stamps.com recently submitted a formal request to the US Postal Service to continue testing the PhotoStamps service. That request is being considered during an evaluation period that is expected to take 90 days, at most, from the end of the market test on September 30.
During the 7 1/2 week market test, Stamps.com received over 80,000 individual photos, graphics or logos that were submitted through the PhotoStamps web site or via mail order. The most popular image categories ordered were babies and children, and pets and animals. Other popular submissions during the market test included business logos, couples, families, uniformed soldiers, landscapes, buildings, artistic items, and vehicles.
PhotoStamps postage is valid US postage and can be used at any point in the future. The evaluation period stoppage affected only the PhotoStamps program and in no way impacts the regular Stamps.com PC Postage product. For the fiscal quarter ended September 30, Stamps.com shipped approximately 80,000 of the approximately 130,000 PhotoStamps sheets ordered; the remaining sheets are expected to be shipped during the fiscal fourth quarter.
Postal Service Cancels PhotoStamps
Monday October 4, 11:18 am ET
By Rich Duprey
The United States Postal Service asked Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP - News) to not accept any more orders on its innovative PhotoStamps program until it has a chance to review the results of the test run.
By all accounts, the test was a popular success. A customer would provide Stamps.com with a photograph that would then be turned into a sheet of individualized stamps. The customer had to buy at least one sheet of 20 stamps at a cost of $16.99 for typical $0.37 postage. The post office got only the cost of the postage; Stamps.com received the rest. The company estimates that more than 100,000 sheets -- some 2 million individual stamps -- were ordered during the seven-week test market period that began Aug. 10.
The online purveyor of postage had asked the postal service to extend the test marketing period, but because of a well-publicized stunt by The Smoking Gun website, in which pictures of serial killers, foreign dictators, and items of dubious historical value (such as Monica Lewinsky's infamous dress) made it to print, the post office is rethinking the program. As a result, the company stopped the printing of pictures of adults and teenagers to prevent a recurrence, which admittedly makes the service somewhat less desirable, but it wasn't enough to persuade the post office to extend the program.
In true bureaucratic fashion, the postal service says it will make a decision on extending the test market within 90 days, just long enough to miss the holiday season. And it won't allow Stamps.com to continue processing orders while it reviews the program.
Stamps.com's stock had been on a tear after the program was announced, hitting a 52-week high of $17.75. Last Tuesday it closed at $12.17, down 31% from the high, but has since recovered to $14. The company will deliver 80,000 of the 100,000 stamp sheets ordered in the third quarter, delivering the balance in the fourth quarter. Revenue is recognized from the program as the product is shipped.
The company posted on its website a note announcing the end of the program and asking customers to write the U.S. Postal Service and their local congressman to keep the program going.
While there will always be pranksters trying to push the envelope, it seems overkill to end the program because of a couple of incidents of high-profile high jinks. These stamps should not be canceled.
Fool contributor Rich Duprey thinks the postal service should be canceled and privatized. He does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.
Home Photo-Stamp Experiment Canceled
Friday October 1, 6:46 pm ET
U.S. Postal Service Cancels Experiment to Allow Consumers to Make Stamps Out of Home Photos
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The U.S. Postal Service has canceled a brief experiment that allowed ordinary people to make postage stamps using images of their dogs, babies and even, it turned out, outlaws such as the Unabomber.
Stamps.com Inc., based in Santa Monica, said this week that its PhotoStamps program has ended for now while the U.S. Postal Service re-evaluates the program.
"We are disappointed with this outcome as it puts the PhotoStamps program into a state of limbo as the holiday season approaches," Stamps.com CEO Ken McBride said in a statement.
The company launched the program in August along with the Postal Service. It allowed people to upload vacation, wedding or just about any other kind of photo to a Web site, then have the photo placed in a variety of borders and turned into legal postage.
The idea was that people would use the special stamps for wedding invitations, new baby announcements, holiday cards and similar purposes.
Last month, Stamps.com revised the program to prohibit photos of adults and teenagers after pranksters at the Web site The Smoking Gun claimed some success in getting pictures of notorious adults, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, past the company's censors.
Nevertheless, Stamps.com declared the test a success. The company said an estimated 100,000 sheets, or 2 million individual PhotoStamps, were ordered in the seven weeks of the market test.
A notice posted on the PhotoStamps Web site urges customers to write to the USPS while it considers over the next 90 days whether to renew the program.
"The customers have voted loud and clear with their orders," McBride said. "Now it is up to the USPS."
In trading Friday, Stamps.com shares finished up 79 cents at $14.09 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Press Release Source: Stamps.com
Market Test Concludes: Over Two Million PhotoStamps Ordered in Seven Weeks
Wednesday September 29, 5:54 pm ET
Postal Service Begins Evaluation Period
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP - News) was asked today by the U.S. Postal Service to conclude its market test and to cease taking customer orders for PhotoStamps(TM) as of October 1, 2004, to allow the Postal Service to conduct a review of the program. The USPS stated that it expects to make a decision on the future of the PhotoStamps program within 90 days. Customer response to the market test of the new PhotoStamps(TM) product has been overwhelmingly positive with an estimated 100,000 sheets, or 2,000,000 individual PhotoStamps, ordered during the approximately seven weeks of the market test which began with the public launch on August 10.
Stamps.com recently submitted a formal request to the U.S. Postal Service to extend the PhotoStamps market test for a definite period of time, or to start a new market test of the service. That request is expected to be considered during the Postal Service's evaluation period. Stamps.com also made a request that it be allowed to continue taking PhotoStamps orders while the program was evaluated, and that request was effectively denied.
"We are disappointed with this outcome as it puts the PhotoStamps program into a state of limbo as the holiday season approaches, however we acknowledge the Postal Service's request to evaluate the program before additional orders are taken," said Stamps.com president and CEO Ken McBride. "By all reasonable measures, we think this program has been overwhelmingly successful. The customers have voted loud and clear with their orders -- now it is up to the USPS."
Stamps.com will continue to accept orders for PhotoStamps at www.photostamps.com through midnight PDT on September 30, 2004. All orders received up to that point will be fulfilled by Stamps.com in the following business days. All PhotoStamps postage is valid US postage and can be used at any point in the future. The evaluation period stoppage affects only the PhotoStamps program and in no way impacts the regular Stamps.com PC Postage product.
For the fiscal quarter ended September 30, Stamps.com expects to ship approximately 80,000 of the approximately 100,000 PhotoStamps sheets ordered; the remaining sheets are expected to be shipped during the fiscal fourth quarter. Revenue on PhotoStamps sales is recognized as the product is shipped.
PhotoStamps is a PC Postage product brought to you by Stamps.com Inc, a leading provider of Internet-based postage services. In addition to providing the PhotoStamps product, Stamps.com PC Postage Service enables over 300,000 customers to print U.S. Postal Service-approved postage with just a PC, printer and Internet connection. The Company targets its PC Postage services to small businesses and home offices, and currently has partnerships with companies including Microsoft, CompUSA, EarthLink, HP, NCR, Office Depot and Vendio.
"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: This release includes forward-looking statements about our expectations that involve risks and uncertainties. Important factors, including the Company's ability to complete and ship its products and obtain regulatory approval, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements, are detailed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission made from time to time by Stamps.com, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2003, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and Current Reports on Form 8-K. Stamps.com undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
Stamps.com, the Stamps.com logo and PhotoStamps are trademarks or registered trademarks of Stamps.com Inc. All other brands and names are property of their respective owners.
For further information please contact: Investors, Austin Rettig, Director, Investor Relations, Stamps.com, +1-310-482-5830; or Press, Dena Cook of PR21, +1-310-566-2283, email@example.com, for Stamps.com
Stamps.com venture in doubt
By Frank Barnako, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Last Update: 1:44 PM ET Sept. 23, 2004
The company also canceled a publicized appearance Thursday at a technology investors' conference in San Francisco.
Shares of Los Angeles-based Stamps.com (STMP: news, chart, profile) fell almost 13 percent in midday trading.
A statement from the company said Chief Executive Ken McBride was unable to attend the conference, although a public relations person Thursday said she would try to make him available for a midday interview with CBS MarketWatch.
A week ago, Stamps.com announced that it would make a presentation at the ThinkEquity Partners' Growth Conference in San Francisco Thursday and make executives available for one-on-one investor meetings.
A company representative said Stamps.com has been in talks with the Postal Service since the test of PhotoStamps began.
Stamps.com has restricted the selection of photographs it accepts for its PhotoStamps. Last week, it prohibited pictures of famous and infamous people, and this week it began refusing to accept photos of anyone who appears to be over the age of 12. Animals, business logos and landscapes are still acceptable.
Stamping Down on Personalized Postage
Thursday September 23, 11:22 am ET
By Rich Duprey
Editor's note: The original version of this article reported that the director bought shares two days before the company made an announcement. This is incorrect. He bought shares three days after the announcement. We regret and apologize for the mistake.
You knew it had to happen.
Not long after I had written that Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP - News) had launched a new service to allow personalized postage but cautioned against offensive and politically incorrect images, The Smoking Gun website reported that it was able to get pictures printed of Yugoslavian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey and his alleged gay lover and former state Homeland Security director Golan Cipel, as well as Monica Lewinsky's infamous stained blue dress.
OK, some dubious portraits made it through the censors, but then again, not many people would recognize Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu.
In response, however, Stamps.com has decided to take the draconian measure of prohibiting all photos of adults and teenagers from being printed. You can still get exciting pictures of furniture, landscapes, pets, cars, babies, and preteens printed. While the company has its own categories, you can term them Dull, Duller, Even More Dull, and Dullest.
Still, by all accounts the program is a success. Some 2,000 sheets were ordered within the first two days, while at the end of three weeks more than 40,000 sheets had been ordered. After a month of the service, more than 1 million individual PhotoStamps had been ordered. That's a lot of pictures of Fifi.
The effort is a trial program being run with the blessing of the U.S. Postal Service until Sept. 30. While Stamps.com would like the program to continue -- it should, since it gets all the money above and beyond the basic postage cost -- the program might now not be as successful as it was before The Smoking Gun's prank. If you can't put Biff's graduation picture on a stamp (but can get a picture of the chair he sat in at the ceremony) there might not be the same stampede as there had been.
Consumers are required to buy a minimum of one sheet of 20 stamps. For the typical $0.37 postage, Stamps.com charges $16.99, plus $2.99 shipping and handling. That's more than double the basic flag stamp you can pick up at the local post office.
When Stamps.com announced the program on Aug. 10, the shares of the stock jumped almost $2 a stub and then began an inexorable climb to a new 52-week high.
A PhotoStamp could be a big seller during the holidays if the Postal Service approves it for permanent status, though there's no guarantee it will. But looking at the results thus far, the post office would have to be crazy not to continue a program that encouraged the use of snail mail over email.
Fool contributor Rich