Blue Apron on Monday received its first deluge of ratings from Wall Street analysts, and they were mostly bullish.
The meal-kit delivery service entered the public markets with a thud. After it cut its initial public offering price range, its shares barely traded above the new range of $10 to $11 on day one. They tumbled 35% from the debut on June 29 through Friday.
Of 11 new recommendations, Blue Apron received seven "buy" or "outperform" ratings and four "equal weight" ratings, according to Bloomberg. There's one "sell" rating from Northcoast Research's Charles Cerankosky, who released his recommendation on July 11.
"Blue Apron is the leading player in the nascent meal-kit delivery market and addressing a large, multi-billion dollar market," said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets who has a $10 price target on the stock. Goldman Sachs, an IPO underwriter, also had a buy rating on the stock with an $11 price target.
Blue Apron surged as much as 9% in premarket trading to $7.18 a share.
Amazon's involvement in online grocery would be a "meaningful overhang for Blue Apron in the foreseeable future," Mahaney said. Amazon's $14 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, however, supports the view that there's a huge market opportunity for online grocery.
Amid stalling revenue growth, it's uncertain how much of the market Blue Apron will be able to capture, he said. A poll by Morning Consult and Money Magazine found that the cost of meal kits (starting at $8.99 a serving on Blue Apron) was the biggest issue for subscribers who canceled and for 59% of respondents who had never tried such a service.
Youssef Squali, an analyst at SunTrust, said Blue Apron had a first-mover advantage in the meal-kit market. This brand recognition and a strong management team should help it achieve profitability over time, he said.
"There are a number of instances where the worst fears from the threat of Amazon’s potential entry into a vertical have failed to materialize," Squali said. "As an example, Amazon’s entry into photo books (through a tie-up with District Photo) last year failed to have a noticeable impact on Shutterfly, a category leader in personalized print."
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