Here's one company whose Internet commerce bubble isn't about to bust any time soon: Sealed Air Corp., the Saddle Brook (N.J.) company that makes Bubble Wrap, the clear-plastic packing material that everybody--including Chief Executive T.J. Dermot Dunphy--loves to pop. After all, those items people snap up online have to be shipped somewhere, and they're all going to have to be very carefully wrapped.
Dunphy's lips, however, are sealed. He won't discuss how much of his revenue is generated by e-commerce sales, but some Wall Street analysts consider Sealed Air so primed to ride the online wave that they're calling the firm a "backdoor Internet play." Sealed Air sells its Bubble Wrap, Instapak foam padding, and Jiffy padded envelopes to e-commerce customers such as Lands' End, eToys, and Amazon.com. Analysts say Sealed Air racked up more than $1 billion in revenues from protective packaging sales last year. They expect sales to grow 9% this year, nearly triple historical levels. Says analyst Joel G. Tiss of Lehman Brothers: "As the Net boosts the amount of stuff getting shipped around the world, all that stuff has to be protected."
Investors agree. The company's stock has surged from 27 last Oct. to around 60. That just proves there's more than hot air in Bubble Wrap.