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Netflix, Yelp Get Votes of Confidence but Shares Retreat

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Netflix (NFLX) and Yelp (YELP) shares got an early boost but have since retreated despite separate upgrades to buy-equivalent recommendations from Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein.

"In our view, the recent sell-off in high-beta Internet and technology stocks has created a buying opportunity in certain stocks in our coverage universe," the analyst wrote in a note to clients. "As we view near-term fundamentals as unchanged, we are upgrading the shares of NFLX and YELP to Outperform from Perform. Based on prior price target calculations, we estimate 24% and 19% upside, respectively, with favorable near-term technical support."

"While YELP was best performing stock under coverage in 2013, shares now 35% below 52-week high," the note said. "Meanwhile, NFLX are down 26% from 52-week high (Nasdaq down 6%.)"

Netflix shares rose as much as 3.2% earlier Monday, but were rising just 0.09% to $337.61 at last check. Yelp shares jumped as much as 5.7% early in the day, but were falling 0.45% to $65.46 at last check. Helfstein has price targets of $419 and $78, respectively, on the stocks.

Helfstein joins the minority group of analysts that have a buy-equivalent rating on Netflix. Of the 37 analysts that rate the stock, according to Bloomberg, 10 have buy ratings, 22 have hold-equivalent ratings and four rate the stock at "sell." Helfstein's rating is included in the total.

In contrast, more analysts say to buy Yelp, according to Bloomberg. Of the 30 analysts that rate Yelp, 18 analysts have a buy-equivalent rating, while 11 say to hold the stock. Only one analyst is recommending that investors sell shares of Yelp.

Valuation aside, Helfstein said that Amazon's (AMZN) new set-top box, Amazon Fire TV, will be a positive for Netflix, as the streaming service is a "featured application."

He also characterized recent headlines about Yelp related to an Federal Trade Commission investigation regarding businesses that "claim false or fraudulent reviews causing damage (YELP refuses to release consumer information, in most cases)" are mostly "noise." 

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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