NEW YORK (AP) ¿ The worst of its slowdown due to the recession now appears behind online auction marketplace Liquidity Services Inc., said Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel, upgrading the company.

Nagel on Wednesday upgraded the Washington-based company to "Outperform" from "Perform," saying he expects auction activity to "accelerate meaningfully" in 2010 as consumers' spending picks up and commodity prices stabilize in its metal scrap business.

The decline in gross merchandise value volume ¿ a measure of business growth on the site ¿ slowed in the quarter that ended in September, Nagel said, and continued to improve later this fall.

Liquidity Services' marketplace deals in wholesale, surplus and salvage assets.

Earlier this month, the company said while it was pleased with its recent progress, its remained cautious due to the economy.

Still, the current stock price doesn't reflect the company's earnings potential once the economy recovers, Nagel said.

He set a $15 target price on the shares, which closed at $9.46 on Tuesday.

The stock has risen nearly 20 percent since Nov. 27. Nagel said business trends particularly improved through the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend after Thanksgiving.

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