NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - TripAdvisor ( TRIP) was the worst performer in the S&P 500 midday Thursday. The index rose 5.4 points midday Thursday to 1,371.08.
TripAdvisor's shares fell 2.22% to $31.51. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts downgraded the online travel research company to neutral from buy on Thursday. "We are downgrading TripAdvisor to Neutral as we believe the Street appears to be overly optimistic about the company's near-term growth prospects while expanding TripAdvisor's multiple in the wake of Yelp's upcoming IPO," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a report. "Although TripAdvisor will likely be a key beneficiary from the travel industry's offline to online secular shift and we see the potential for significant revenue growth acceleration by 4Q, near term upside potential seems limited." Shares of TripAdvisor hit a 52-week high on Feb. 3 of $35.93. The stock's 52-week low of $23.99 was set on Dec. 22. TripAdvisor has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 19.36; the average for travel and tourism companies is 19.94. For comparison, both Priceline.com ( PCLN) and Expedia ( EXPE) have lower forward P/Es of 16.44 and 10.84, respectively. Thirteen of the 18 analysts who cover TripAdvisor rated it hold. Three analysts gave the stock a buy rating and two rated it sell. The stock has risen 25.01% year to date.