Mary Meeker isn't shy about AOL Time Warner (AOL) .
On Friday morning, the
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
Internet analyst initiated coverage on the new media colossus with a $75 price target for the year and a strong buy rating -- her firm's highest ranking and the only such rating Meeker has on the companies she follows.
AOL was trading up $2.85 to $52.62, a two-month high. Over the past 52 weeks, AOL -- formed from America Online's acquisition of Time Warner earlier this month -- has seen its stock price range from $31.50 to $74.63.
Meeker previously had a strong buy on America Online, but suspended that rating more than a year ago because Morgan Stanley was an adviser to Time Warner on the merger.
In her report, Meeker calls AOL Time Warner "our best money-making idea" and says it's her top pick in the Internet: New Media & e-Commerce sector as well as the Broadband & Entertainment sector.
The analyst estimates that AOL's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2001 will match the company's forecast of $11 billion, and that revenue will amount to $42.8 billion, ahead of AOL's forecast of $40 billion. Revenue will grow 15% to 16% annually from 2000 to 2005, she says, and EBITDA will grow 24% to 25% annually over the same time period.
The biggest risk the company faces, says Meeker, is the difficulty of expanding AOL's businesses outside of the U.S. Other risks relate to the challenge of integrating AOL and Time Warner, and to the slowing economy.