Three famous Internet stocks were put under the analyst microscope Tuesday, and only
came out unscathed.
In a call that is sure to draw comparisons to bubble-era froth, Credit Suisse First Boston raised eBay's price target to $100 from $85, after revising first-quarter estimates. eBay was recently up 1.28% to $86.40.
CSFB raised its EPS estimate to between 32 cents and 34 cents and said first-quarter revenue should be $478 million. By comparison, the company itself expects earnings of 30 cents a share on revenue of $440 million, while the analyst consensus is for earnings of 31 cents a share on revenue of $448.2 million.
"We believe the long-term strength in eBay's business combined with the power of the business model justifies further upside over the next 12 months," Credit Suisse said in a research note. The broker maintained its outperform rating.
Meanwhile, Salomon Smith Barney downgraded
to in-line from outperform, while CSFB dropped
to neutral from outperform. Both cited valuation and both hedged their call by saying either share could see upside.
Recently, shares of Yahoo! were falling 4%, or 96 cents, to $23.06, while Amazon's were down 2.61% to $25.35.
Though Salomon said it lowered Yahoo!'s rating because the shares reached its valuation target of $24, the brokerage remained optimistic on the company. Salomon said in a research note that it is "convinced that Yahoo! now has several years of rapid revenue and free cash flow growth ahead of it."
Salomon said advertising and subscriptions are strong, and that investors view the company as one of the strongest cash-flow growth stories over the next few years. Salomon expects $1.15 a share in free cash flow by 2006. Further, "our five-year (2003-2008) estimated free cash-flow growth-rate for Yahoo! is 30%-32% per year." Salomon's price target remains $24.
Salomon expects first-quarter 2003 earnings of 7 cents a share and revenue of $281 million, with upside potential. Analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial expect earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $273.4 million.
As for Amazon, Credit Suisse said: "With shares of Amazon up 33% since the beginning of the year and the stock having exceeded our $25 price target, we are lowering our opinion from outperform to neutral." The brokerage said it remains a long-term Amazon fan, but thinks a more conservative position is warranted in the near-term due to the approach of summer.
Amazon has declined 26% on average from May 1 to Aug. 31 for the past three years, CSFB noted, though it said that doesn't guarantee it will happen again. But "given the strength of Amazon's performance to date, we feel it is a short-term risk."
Credit Suisse maintained its first-quarter revenue estimate of $1.1 billion and EPS of 4 cents. Analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial also expect 4 cents a share on revenue of $1.05 billion.