Internet stocks have been suffering slightly in the first quarter of 2015 due to foreign exchange fluctuations. However, results from the fourth quarter of 2014 have temporarily suspended the recent lackluster performances of internet stocks, allowing them to recover. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali issued a note to investors on February 17th covering internet stocks that were able “to claw back much lost ground by reporting 4Q:14 results, which were generally in-line with estimates but against a backdrop of muted expectations.” Highlights from the report are as follows:
Shutterfly (NASDAQ: SFLY):
Investors were none too happy to see that photo publishing service Shutterfly has forecast its first quarter 2015 revenue to reach a range of $153 million to $157 million, which would consequently lead to an adjusted net loss per share of $1.36 to $1.20. Wall Street analysts had predicted a much smaller loss of $0.88 per share and revenue of $159.5 million for the first quarter. As a result, Shutterly’s stock fell roughly 14% in the beginning of February.
However, the company’s fourth quarter earnings results beat analysts’ expectations at $2.57 earnings per share and $483.3 million in revenue, helping its stock recover. Squali maintained a Buy rating with a price target of $58 on Shutterfly on February 13th following the company’s Q4 results, reasoning its “strong 4Q:14 results, an appropriately conservative in line 2015 guidance, and a $300M stock buyback announcement.”
Youssef Squali has rated Shutterfly 7 times since September 2012, earning a 50% success rate recommending the company and a +15.1% average return per recommendation.
Shutterstock (NYSE: SSTK):
Shutterstock had a rather dismal start in 2015 having dropped as much as 20%. Yet, investors saw a glimmer of hope following the company’s announcement of its fourth quarter 2014 earnings results on February 12th.
Shutterstock beat expectations with adjusted earnings of $0.35 per share, beating the consensus by $0.03 and marking a 35% rise from last year’s levels. Squali maintained a Buy rating on Shutterstock on February 13th and raised his price target from $95 to $100. He noted, “A secular shift to digital stock imagery/content, a differentiated offering, a large addressable market, and a favorable competitive environment keep us positive on SSTK. Operationally, a sustainable and favorable mix of the higher-priced Offset, Enterprise, Music, and Video offerings should continue to create a tailwind for growth and margin expansion over time.”
Youssef Squali has rated Shutterstock 6 times since May 2013 with a 33% success rate recommending the company and a +5.2% average return per recommendation.
comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR):
comScore was doing okay at the start of the year, slowly but surely gaining momentum. However, the company’s stock surged almost 17% following the announcement of its Q4 earnings results and strategic alliance with WPP’s data investment management division, Kantar on February 11th.
WPP agreed to buy a 15% to 20% stake in comScore in an effort to improve the company’s cross-platform audience and ad campaign measurement capabilities in non-U.S. markets. Squali maintained a Buy rating on comScore on February 12th with a $58 price target, reasoning “strong 4Q results and the potential for incremental revenue from the WPP/Kantar partnership.” He added “The WPP/Kantar deal should accelerate the rollout of successful vCE and multi-platform offerings to international markets. Importantly, management announced the extension of the DoubleClick partnership to mobile and international, which implies good traction so far with desktop, in our view. The WPP proposed equity stake announcement, while creating some uncertainty around dilution short term, is a long-term positive strategically.”
Youssef Squali has rated comScore 7 times since May 2013, earning an 86% success rate recommending the company and a +36.0% average return per recommendation.
AOL (NYSE: AOL):
AOL’s stock dropped 11% after the company’s senior management provided a weak outlook for 2015. Management warned that the first two quarters of 2015 will focus on recovering from a major restructure in which the company laid off a bunch of its ad-sales staff in order to refocus the business around programmatic advertising and its most popular content brands.
However, AOL was able to beat analysts’ expectations, earning $59.6 million, or $0.73 a share, in the most recent period, up from $36 million, or $0.43 a share, a year prior. Revenue grew 8% to $562 million. Youssef Squali maintained a Buy rating on AOL on February 11th and cut his price target from $48 to $45, noting “We believe mixed 4Q:14 results and a muted 2015 outlook, driven by a sales force realignment and increased investments, are likely to keep a lid on the stock short-term. Longer term, however, we expect AOL’s focus on non-commoditized areas, especially programmatic and video, to help re-accelerate growth and expand margins in 2016 and beyond.”
Youssef Squali has rated AOL 6 times since March 2010 with 0% success and a -4.5% loss per recommendation.
Yelp (NYSE: YELP):
Yelp has been seeing a deceleration of growth as of recent, and investors have begun to shy away from its stock. However, the business review website recently announce its acquisition of Eat24, a company that lets users order from nearby restaurants through its website or app, for $134 million.
In addition, Yelp also raised its outlook for the first quarter of 2015, expecting revenue between $118.5 million to $120.5 million, up from its previous forecast of $114 million to $116 million. Squali maintained a Buy rating on Yelp with a $78 price target on February 10th, reasoning “We view this deal favorably for Yelp, as it extends its reach with merchants, and helps it close the transaction loop for local businesses (mainly restaurant at this point). This transaction also gets Yelp closer to the ultimate customer.”
Youssef Squali has rated Yelp 12 times since April 2012, earning a 40% success rate recommending the company and a +38.8% average return per recommendation.
Overall, Youssef Squali has a 70% success rate recommending stocks and a +26.1% average return per recommendation.
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