Time Warner ( TWX) perked up early Wednesday after CIBC raised the shares to sector outperform and set a $20 price target, up from $18. "As AOL's results improve every quarter this year, and as positive early results from voice-over-Internet-protocol helps to restore investor confidence,
the shares will be viewed as a positive second half of 2004/2005 story, particularly if investor concerns about local advertising do not let up," the brokerage wrote. Today TWX's shares closed up 4 cents, or 0.24%, to $16.45. CIBC noted that they are down 9% year to date, a worse fall than those taken by both the S&P 500 and the company's immediate peer group. That makes the shares attractive, the brokerage argued, given its expectations that earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization will rise by a percentage in the low double digits next year, similar to its expectation for 2004. "We also believe that over a two-year period, 2004-2005, which normalizes for political and Olympics ad spending, Time Warner is likely to post very comparable-to-better growth to its peers," while trading at a discount, CIBC wrote. It expects the media conglomerate to meet or beat current Wall Street estimates over the next year to 18 months. Analysts surveyed by Thomson One Analytics were expecting the company to earn 56 cents a share in 2004 and 67 cents a share next year.