By Cody Miecnikowski
Shares of Yelp Inc (NYSE: YELP) skyrocketed over 33% between May 6 and May 8 after news broke that Yelp put itself up for sale. Nearly a month later on July 2, it was reported that Yelp will not be looking to sell itself afterall. Despite the subsequent 13% drop in share price, analysts still have some faith in Yelp’s future.
In reaction to potential buyers in early May, Yelp hired Goldman Sachs who valued the company at approximately $3 billion. Following the report of a potential sale, analysts at Credit Suisse identified six potential buyers, including Google, Apple, Amazon, and TripAdvisor.
It was reported on July 2 that Yelp’s CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, had potential offers, but ultimately decided not to pursue the sale. Shares of the local reviews company started crashing on the market floor after the news broke, with sellers worrying that Yelp will not be able to make it alone.
On July 6, shares of Yelp hit a new low of $36.10.
Despite such news, Cowen & Co analyst Kevin Kopelman reiterated a Buy rating on Yelp with price target of $55 on July 6 with the expectation that focus will return to fundamental drivers.
Kopelman thinks the news could be a “positive sign for Q2, as Yelp would face more pressure to sell if business were deteriorating.” He finalizes his argument by pointing out, “shares reflect (1) an early ’15 slip-up, already overcome, and (2) ‘15E margin compression that is likely to reverse in ’16. Valuation of 4.8X EV/S is attractive on both current growth and [long-term] outlook.”
When measured over no benchmark and a one-year horizon, Kevin Kopelman has a 76% success rate recommending stocks, earning a +17.4% average return per recommendation. The analyst has rated Yelp a total of five times, earning a 50% success rate recommending the stock and a +28.9% average return per YELP recommendation.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is less optimistic about Yelp. On July 5, the analyst reiterated a Hold rating on the stock with a $40 price target, believing that Yelp is still “one quarter away from fundamentals stabilizing.”
Munster discusses Yelp’s deceleration in unique user growth. Essentially, fewer new users have been coming in the door, and investors have not taken to this news lightly. However, the analyst believes that user growth “will reaccelerate in the fall and investor sentiment will likely shift back to positive at that time.”
Munster explains that Yelp’s decision to call off the sale process will be inferred by near-term investors “as a sign that Yelp was unable to sell itself.” He continues, “Given that shares have historically enjoyed a takeout premium, we believe that investors will reduce the take out premium.”
He concludes that the “lack of near term catalysts [is] a reason to stay [on the] sidelines.”
When measured over no benchmark and a one-year horizon, Gene Munster has a 69% success rate recommending stocks, earning a +25.7% average return per recommendation. Munster has rated Yelp a total of 12 times, earning a 25% success rate recommending the company a -9.5% average loss per recommendation.
Out of the 22 analysts polled by TipRanks, 12 analysts are bullish on Yelp, 9 are neutral, and 1 is bearish. The average 12-month price target for Yelp is $54.84, marking a 47.74% potential upside from where the stock is currently trading.