NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of WebMD Health Corp. gained ground Monday after the health Web site operator completed a merger with HLTH Corp., its former parent.

An analyst for Stifel Nicolaus raised his ratings on WebMD, saying the company suggested its third-quarter operating profit and pretax profit will be greater than expected, and revenue will be at the high end of its latest forecasts. In morning trading, shares of WebMD rose $1.24, or 3.6 percent, to $35.52.

Analyst George Askew said the long-delayed merger is an important positive event for WebMD. He kept a "Buy" rating on WebMd shares, and raised his profit estimates for 2009 and 2010 as well as his price target on the stock. He now expects the company to earn $1.06 per share this year, up from $1.04 per share, and $1.21 per share in 2010, from $1.17.

Askew's price target went to $42 per share from $36.
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