The wild, wild Web is a lawless place again, filled with desperados and renegades struggling against the same elements, united and divided by one common need -- to stay alive. Only the fittest will survive. Today,
Derek Brown initiated coverage on two companies that he feels have a decent shot.
were both started with a buy rating.
The two companies are very different kinds of cowboys, despite the fact that they both are involved in the creation of online markets. FreeMarkets is a classic business-to-business play, using the Web to help make a market where buyers and sellers can cut out the middleman. Homestore.com, meanwhile, has put nearly every facet of real estate online, owning a trio of sites that cover a wide range of needs. The company's Realtor.com lists houses for sale, while HomeBuilder.com connects contractors with vacant lots. It can even help businesses find a home via its CommercialSource.com site.
FreeMarkets was given a price target of $20 by Brown, who specifically cited the company's management and solid business model as major reasons behind the rating. He also said he liked the company's recent purchase of private softwaremaker
for 17.25 million shares in stock -- about $193 million based on yesterday's close.
"As a testament to its effectiveness, FreeMarkets has now conducted more than 9,200 online markets for over $14 billion worth of goods and services, generating estimated savings of over $2.7 billion for its
blue-chip customers," he wrote to investors in a note this morning. "Further, the company is led by a strong, seasoned management team, and presents a business model characterized by fast-growing, (relatively) predictable revenue streams and emerging signs of operating scalability."
That said, it's worth noting that FreeMarkets posted a loss in the fourth quarter; that loss was wider than the previous year.
Homestore.com, something of an analyst darling lately, was given a $40 price target. About a month ago, the company closed a deal with rival
, owner of
, to purchase its Move.com online presence. The deal further consolidated Homestore's move into the online world of real estate.
At the time, analysts cheered, with
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
Salomon Smith Barney
all raising their earnings estimates on the company, specifically citing the Move acquisition as a major factor. Even better, the company's fourth-quarter earnings beat expectations.
And now, Hambrecht's Brown started the company with a buy rating.
"We believe Homestore.com is ideally positioned within the $5.4 trillion worldwide residential real estate market," he wrote. "Furthermore, we think the company's model is extremely attractive, offering multiple high-margin revenue streams, relatively high levels of visibility, and tremendous operating leverage."
There's a little shake-up over at
in the semiconductor department. Terry Ragsdale, formerly with
J.P. Morgan Chase
, assumed coverage of 10 companies from previous analyst Joe Moore. Many of the companies received new estimates, and as is typical with tech these days, the news about fiscal 2001 was not great. Some of Goldie's new forecasts for profitability were placed below Wall Street's consensus on the matter.
Despite the negativity, or maybe because of it, Goldie did not advise investors to stay away from semiconductors. Instead, Ragsdale told investors to rebuild positions in the sector, especially after earnings chatter kicks into high gear in April. Keep in mind that in order to rebuild a position in semiconductors, you should have already cashed out of a previous position.
"Yes, the fundamentals are awful, with little sign of a turn, but sentiment is much more realistic than it was two months ago," the new analyst wrote. "Thus, we like the risk/reward, but cannot make the case that potential downside is limited. We suggest a market weighting, with a bias toward a more aggressive stance."
Added to Goldie's U.S. recommended for purchase list was
Started at market outperform were:
- Intel (INTC) - Get ReportXilinx (XLNX) - Get ReportAltera (ALTR) - Get ReportLattice Semiconductor (LSCC) - Get ReportLSI Logic (LSI) - Get Report
Started at market perform were:
- Analog Devices (ADI) - Get Report,
Linear Technology Group (LLTC) Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM) - Get ReportNational Semiconductor (NSM) .
Here's a quick roundup of those estimate revisions:
: UP to strong buy from buy at
; price target to $40 from $125.
: UP to buy from hold at
Credit Suisse First Boston
: DOWN to buy from strong buy at Credit Suisse First Boston.
: DOWN to hold from buy at Credit Suisse First Boston.
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