Stock Watch: Hastings Delays Launch

Hastings Entertainment (Nasdaq: HAST) was supposed to make a big splash on Tuesday with the launch of an online superstore to compete with the likes of Amazon.com. But the site never opened on Monday, prompting investor outrage and a major sell-off of the stock.

Hastings shareholders expressed their disgust on online message boards as the company’s stock plummeted 2-15/16 to 13-1/2, a drop of nearly 18 percent. What makes this delay especially embarrassing is that Hastings heavily promoted the launch with advertisements in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

The company said that it delayed the launch of the site to address bandwidth issues. “We had gohastings.com ready to launch, but determined that it would not deliver the level of speed and convenience that over four million Hastings customers already pre-registered for our site have come to expect from shopping at our 131 entertainment superstores,” said John H. Marmaduke, president and chief executive officer of Hastings.

Marmaduke went on to add that the company felt “that it was better to delay the debut of our new site than to open with less than the best product that we could offer to the global community we will be serving.”

Hastings did not go into specifics about when its new site would actually go live.

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