Home Shopping: Under the Radar

11/13/2014 7:00 am EST


Investors may know of a few other e-commerce stocks such as Alibaba, Amazon, and eBay. But one of the best alternatives to the big names of Alibaba and Amazon is completely under the radar, suggests David Zeiler in Money Morning.

HSN Inc. (HSNI) is an e-commerce stock that everyone has missed. It's a household name that almost no one associates with e-commerce.

The company launched in 1982 in Florida and is worth $3.46 billion. And it has several catalysts that make it a compelling stock to buy.

Many of you may be scratching your heads. The Home Shopping Network? How could a cable shopping channel be an e-commerce stock to buy?

As it turns out, HSNI has been quietly expanding its online sales. In the June quarter, HSNI reported that e-commerce accounted for 46.6% of total sales.

Today HSNI is what's called a multi-channel retailer. It sells merchandise through its HSN.com Web site, its TV exposure to 95 million US households, and its mobile apps that run on smartphones and tablets.

The multi-channel approach has been key in getting customers to spend more. HSNI's sales data shows that customers who buy from multiple channels spend over 50% more than those who buy from a single channel.

The strategy seems to be working well. HSNI's sales per share are the highest in the catalog retail industry at $64.04. Liberty Interactive Corp. (QVCA) is second in this sector with sales per share of $22.73.

That brings us to another great reason HSNI is a stock to buy now, it could be acquired by Liberty Interactive, which owns QVC, a rival to the Home Shopping Network.

And Liberty just reorganized its business to split QVC into its own division. HSNI and QVC have very similar businesses and would make a great fit. For example, QVC derives 43% of its revenue from e-commerce.

Plus, QVC already owns 38% of HSNI. And Liberty Ventures is expected to have $2.7 billion in cash by the end of the year, so it can easily afford to make the deal happen.

Finally, there's one last thing that makes HSNI a stock to buy: it pays a 1.53% dividend. And with a payout ratio of just 32.2%, the company has a lot of room for future payout increases.

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