One of this year's early winners is Vipshop Holdings (NYSE:VIPS). The Chinese online discounter of brand-name apparel has risen 29% this month, picking up steam this week with at least three analysts boosting their price targets. One of those Wall Street pros has now jacked up his target in back-to-back weeks.
The market's been rallying around Vipshop since Tencent Holdings (OTC:TCEHY) and JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) agreed to invest a combined $863 million in the deep discounter last month. Shares have nearly doubled since bottoming out in late November.
The latest move came on Wednesday afternoon, when Jialong Shi at Nomura Instinet increased his price target on Vipshop from $16.50 to $19. He was the one who just last week had upgraded the stock while lifting his goal on the shares from $9.60 to $16.50, so Shi's target has actually nearly doubled in the span of seven days. He joins Keybanc's Hans Chung, who raised his goal from $11 to $17 earlier in the day. Bhavtosh Vajpayee at Bernstein had upgraded Vipshop a day earlier -- going from market perform to outperform -- and catapulting his price target from $9.20 to $23.50 in the process.
Friends in high places
All three analysts that are raising the roof on Vipshop are singling out the merits of having Tencent and JD.com as sizable investors. News of the transaction is already four weeks old, but it was earlier this week that SEC filings confirmed that Tencent and JD.com now own 7% and 5.5% stakes in Vipshop, respectively.
Tencent and JD.com won't be merely passive investors. Part of the deal announced last month was that Tencent will be adding Vipshop to its Weixin Wallet interface. JD.com will link to Vipshop on its JD.com landing page as well as its Weixin Discovery platform. Wall Street's liking what the incremental traffic and brand validation will do for Vipshop.
Shi upgraded the stock last week from neutral to buy, raising his profit estimates by 5% in 2018 and 25% in 2019 at the time. It's not often that you see someone raise a price target in back-to-back weeks, but Vipshop came within $0.03 of hitting his $16.50 price target on Tuesday. It would've been hard to stick with a bullish rating in that scenario, but it's ultimately encouraging to see Shi raise his target instead of downgrading the stock back to neutral on valuation.
This isn't the first time that Vipshop is a hot stock. It was a dot-com darling when, from 2012 to 2014, the stock more than doubled for three consecutive years. Growth has slowed lately, but most retailers and even many e-tailers would love to generate the 28% in revenue growth that Vipshop generated in its most recent quarter. The key to the stock's resurgence is that sales growth could accelerate now with Tencent and JD.com cheering it on.