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Focus Media: Focusing On Chinese Shoppers

By Mara Der Hovanesian China is growing at a 9% annual clip, and everyone seems to want in on the action. Case in point: Focus Media Holding (FMCN), a Shanghai ad outfit, saw its shares zoom 90%, to 33, after its NASDAQ initial public offering in July. The company uses flat-screen video displays in high-traffic downtowns and in retail and grocery stores -- targeting a swelling consumer class. Third-quarter revenues grew 146% year-over-year, to $19.5 million, and profits hit $7.1 million, vs. a loss of $1 million for the same period in 2004. "We don't think it's hyped up. In fact, it's undervalued," says Jim Oberweis, manager of the new Oberweis China Opportunities Fund (OBCHX). Since the fund's launch on Oct. 1, it has piled into Focus Media, at an average cost of 28 a share, making Focus its No.1 holding (see BW Online, 11/14/05, "China: Focus Media Holding Ltd."). In total, Oberweis' firm owns 1.6 million shares. Piper Jaffray (PJC) recently raised its 2006 earnings estimate for Focus to 82 cents a share, up 11 cents, and its 12-month price target to 40.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

Gene Marcial is on vacation.

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