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ValueClick shares rise following analyst upgrade

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of ValueClick Inc. rose Monday after a Jefferies & Co. analyst upgraded the stock, praising new CEO John Giuliani's plans for digital marketing company.

THE SPARK: Analyst Brian Fitzgerald upgraded the shares to "Buy" from "Hold" and raised his price target to $35 per share from $23. He said Giuliani has injected new focus into the company since he became CEO in December. Fitzgerald also praised ValueClick's acquisitions of mobile advertising network Greystripe and display advertising company Dotomi in 2011.

The analyst said ValueClick has a database of 200 million people, which helps the company target ads to those consumers over smartphones, the Web, and other platforms. Mobile advertising is a big opportunity for ValueClick because more people are accessing the Internet on mobile devices.

THE BIG PICTURE: The Westlake Village, Calif., company provides online advertising services to companies and analyzes how their ads work. ValueClick promoted John Giuliani to CEO in December, replacing James Zarley. Giuliani was the CEO of Dotomi when ValueClick bought the company, and he remained in charge of Dotomi after the acquisition. He was later promoted to chief operating officer of ValueClick.

Zarley is now the company's chairman.

ValueClick hired Scott Eagle as chief marketing officer on Thursday and held its annual investor day.

In February ValueClick said its fourth-quarter net income grew 23 percent, and excluding one-time items the company said it earned 56 cents per share over the last three months of 2012. Revenue grew 14 percent to $199.6 million. Both results were better than analysts had expected.

The company forecast adjusted net income of 39 to 41 cents per share and revenue of $165 million to $168 million in the first quarter of 2013. Those projections were also slightly better than Wall Street had expected. FactSet says analyst estimates called for net income of 38 cents per share and $164.9 million in revenue on average.

SHARE ACTION: ValueClick shares gained $2.58, or 9.3 percent, to $30.32 in midday trading. Earlier the shares rose to $30.48, their highest price since April 2007. The stock is up 27.1 percent since ValueClick reported its fourth quarter results on Feb. 13.