Stock Watch: PurchasePro Gains on Recommendation

PurchasePro, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPRO) gained 9 11/16 to 44 3/4 Monday after Prudential Securities repeated a strong buy recommendation on the stock and set a 12-month price target of $50 per share.

Prudential, which said PurchasePro could beat analysts’ expectations by 30 to 40 percent when it reports results on Tuesday, had expected the business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce services company to lose 18 cents per share on revenue of $13.7 million. However, the firm said in a research note Monday that PurchasePro likely had “higher than expected placements in the e-marketplace” as well as “increased sponsorship revenues,” which would contribute to recurring revenue.

In addition, Prudential said, “strong partnerships should continue to improve PurchasePro’s revenue mix.”

Analysts expect B2B e-commerce to continue to grow, though many anticipate an industry shakeout. In a recent report, Forrester Research noted an “unsustainable profusion” of online marketplaces and predicted there will be fewer than 200 players by the time the consolidation is complete.

PurchasePro, however, is one of the bigger players. The company last month announced an alliance with Italy’s BizOmnia.com, making PurchasePro e-commerce products available to businesses across Europe. President and chief operating officer Chris Carton said the move was a “first step in building an international channel for PurchasePro.com.”

Gartner Group and Andersen Consulting, he noted, expect B2B to grow rapidly in coming years.

PurchasePro, with online marketplaces serving more than 25,000 businesses and browser-based services operating private-label sites for another 160 firms, has alliances with America Online, Computer Associates, Sprint Corp., Hilton and Office Depot.

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