Why Benefitfocus Shares Popped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Benefitfocus (NASDAQ: BNFT  ) popped more than 15% on Monday after no less than four separate analysts initiated positive coverage on the online benefit portal specialist, including an overweight rating at Piper Jaffray and three buy ratings from Canaccord Genuity, Goldman Sachs, and Jefferies. All four firms assigned a $50 price target on the stock, and all served as underwriters for Benefitfocus' initial public offering on September 17.

So what: The timing of the notes was no coincidence: Remember, today marked the end of a 25-day "quiet period" imposed by the SEC following Benefitfocus' IPO, at the end of which its underwriters were allowed to release their respective research reports. It's also worth noting that while the stock more than doubled from its IPO price of $26.50 per share to close its first day of trading, shares had steadily fallen by more than 20% through the middle of last week until investors began anticipating today's positive remarks.

Now what: All four analysts had similar things to say, namely that Benefitfocus' widely used software -- which streamlines the process of enrolling and managing employee health-care, retirement, and insurance benefits -- represents a significant competitive advantage considering its current customers include enormous insurers like Aetna and Allstate.

However, after today's pop brought shares within 4% of that $50 price target, it may be worth holding off for a better entry point going forward.

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