Solid Start to Online Holiday Shopping for Top Internet Stocks

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Even though the actual Black Friday numbers may have been somewhat lower than anticipated, a situation many on Wall Street chalked up to the earlier start of Black Friday promotions, the online shopping boom continues to grow. A new report from the Internet team at Baird says based on their data, e-commerce growth accelerated over the weekend due to earlier “Cyber Week” discounting, increasing usage of mobile devices and tablets for shopping, and the ongoing shift of holiday shopping to online channels. If those trends stay intact, the analysts feel that overall e-commerce growth could meet or beat the firm’s 13% to 14% estimate.

The analysts focus on five top stocks, all of which are rated Outperform at Baird, that they feel can be the leaders this holiday season.

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) was absolutely eviscerated back in October after reporting earnings far below analyst estimates. Although the stock has bounced back, many on Wall Street bellowed that Jeff Bezos’s forays into other potential product silos were killing shareholder value and straying from the company’s strengths. Many analyst reports indicate the company is the clear pricing winner in almost all categories for holiday gift buying, with the exception of the toy arena. With solid data points being reported, the huge increase in e-commerce growth should continue to benefit the company.

The Baird price target for the stock is $340, while the Thomson/First Call consensus target is much higher at $357.30. The stock closed Monday at $326.

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eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) is continuing improvements in the user experience. eBay’s marketplaces keep attracting new users, evidenced by double-digit growth in active users and items sold. The Baird team feels the company has a decided advantage in cross-border shipping of product, something that many other retailers struggle with. eBay reported solid third-quarter earnings, and the PayPal business continues to be very strong. While not only enjoying strong early seasonal metrics, eBay remains a potential buyout target with the valuable PayPal franchise.

Baird has a $61 target for the stock. The consensus target is $57.83, and shares closed Monday at $54.87.

ChannelAdvisor Corp. (NYSE: ECOM) is an e-commerce initiative that enables brands to boost product sales and complement activities on other e-commerce channels. When qualified buyers visit a brand’s website, the brand can use ChannelAdvisor Where to Buy to drive buyers to certified retail partners to complete the purchase. Further, with the ChannelAdvisor for Brands initiative, brands can expand their direct-to-consumer strategies with ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces using sites like Amazon and eBay, as well as promote their products on various online advertising channels with ChannelAdvisor Digital Marketing.

The Baird price target is $32, and the consensus price objective is $25.44. The stock closed Monday at $17.12 a share.

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Shutterfly Inc. (NASDAQ: SFLY) has secured a quality niche in the Internet landscape for photos and is another stock the Baird analysts are bullish on during the busy holiday season, which accounts for over half of its annual revenue. Shutterfly sees a sharp increase in photo gifts and holiday card purchases in the fourth quarter. In recent months, the company has been subject to acquisition rumors, in particular that private equity firms were interested in a buyout, which given the dominance in the photo niche makes sense.

Baird has a $55 price target, and the consensus figure is set at $52.62. Shares closed trading on Monday at $41.90.

Zulily Inc. (NASDAQ: ZU) is another one of the top picks from the Baird team. They believe that the recent stock underperformance creates a very attractive entry point for investors given the company’s continued expansion beyond core children’s apparel segment, which implies proven value to vendor partners. Survey results highlight the company’s leadership position as a flash-sales website, with high customer satisfaction with price, customer selection and discovery viewed as company’s best features. Like the others, the holiday shopping season is critical to overall numbers for the year.

The Baird price target for the stock is $42. The consensus estimate is at $52.62. Zulily closed Monday at $28.16.

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With the overall holiday shopping season expected to be solid this year, these top stocks to buy could be good additions to aggressive growth portfolios, especially if they are added in front of fourth-quarter earnings, which will come out in January.