USB Piper reiterates outperform on USA Interactive (USAI ).
On Thursday, the diversified media and e-commerce company posted 16 cents first-quarter earnings per share (adjusted), and forecast 75 cents for 2003.
Analyst Safa Rashtchy believes the confident tone of second-quarter prospects will lift some overhang on the stock. He expects continued integration of properties, and thinks investors' recognition of a full integration will be a key catalyst for the stock. USA Interactive announced in April that it would buy the rest of online reservation company Hotels.com for $1.1 billion. USA Interactive expects the transaction to be slightly accretive to its budgeted, adjusted earnings per share for 2003. USA also bought the remaining shares of travel reservation company Expedia.com that it did not already own.
Rashtchy cut the 28 cents 2003 earnings per share (GAAP) estimate to 16 cents (76 cents adjusted earnings per share), due to charges relating to its stakes in its online units. He raised the 48 cents 2004 earnings per share estimate (GAAP) to 69 cents ($1.02 adjusted earnings per share). Rashtchy says USA Interactive trades at a discount to leading Internet companies -- despite its comparable growth rate. Finally, he raised his $32 target to $37.