Yahoo Downgraded, Continues Slide Following Alibaba IPO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Yahoo (YHOO) are falling after two research firms downgraded the stock following Friday's initial public offering of China's Alibaba (BABA) , in which the U.S. company owned a 23% stake.

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BACKGROUND: On September 19, Alibaba opened for trade on the NYSE at $92.70 after the company's 320.1M shares were originally priced at $68. Alibaba closed Friday at $93.89 per share, giving it a market value of over $230B. Yahoo sold nearly 122M shares that it owned in the Chinese e-commerce giant as part of the IPO, which left it with a stake of 401.8M shares.

ANALYST OPINION: This morning, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post downgraded Yahoo to Neutral from Buy. He feels that Yahoo is no longer the optimum means to gain Alibaba exposure and that some investment funds will likely exit shares. Post believes that some traders might be now utilizing Yahoo as a short proxy for the Chinese company's stock. Yahoo will potentially allocate some of the Alibaba debut proceeds to acquisitions, Post wrote, and added that Yahoo could also possibly spin-off its Alibaba shares into an entirely separate publicly traded company or that Alibaba could look to buy Yahoo to get back the stake the U.S. company holds. Despite cutting his rating on the stock, Post raised his price target on Yahoo to $46 from $40 to reflect the valuation of its Alibaba position. Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner also downgraded Yahoo this morning, lowering his rating on the stock to Market Perform from Outperform. Kirjner is not certain whether Yahoo's stock can grow meaningfully from its current levels now that the Alibaba IPO has come and gone. The analyst maintains a $42 price target on Yahoo.

PRICE ACTION: During morning trading, shares of Yahoo fell $2.31 or 5.6%, to $38.62. On Friday the stock ended the day down $1.15, or 2.74%, to close at $40.93. Shares of Alibaba were down about 4% to $90.05 in morning trading.

Reporting By Gina Gioldassis.

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