The in-plane compressive strength of a stiffened thin-skinned composite panel with a stress concentrator is examined. Two possible in-plane failure mechanisms are investigated. The first one is near-surface instability at the edge of the cutout, where high stress gradients are expected because of the stress concentration and the thickness heterogeneity of the laminated skin. Analytical 3D formulas allowing simple parametrical investigation of the phenomenon under consideration are derived. The second failure mechanism is fiber microbuckling in 0degrees-plies. An equivalent crack model is used to predict the compressive strength of a multidirectional composite laminate. How a stiffener affects the compressive strength of the thin-skinned panel with a hole is studied for both mechanisms. Experimental and predicted values of the critical load are in good agreement.