Shares of Web.com Group (NASDAQ: WEB) soared as much as 13.5% higher in Monday's trading session, following the disclosure of an activist investor taking a larger financial interest in the company. By 3:30 p.m. EDT, the stock had settled down at a milder 11.2% gain.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Friday evening, hedge fund Starboard Value disclosed a 9.4% ownership stake in Web.com. The management team of Web.com, which specializes in online marketing and domain-name management, responded with an official statement welcoming the investment and inviting Starboard to discuss alternative ways to increase Web.com's shareholder value.
Analysts at BWS Financial followed up with an upgrade from hold to buy, with a $32 target price on the shares. BWS Financial's new price target sits at 36% above current prices and 78% above its old $18 target.
BWS Financial believes that Starboard should be able to cure some of the business problems that have led to disappointing earnings and weak revenue growth in recent quarters. So far, Starboard Value hasn't disclosed any new ideas or desired business directions for Web.com.
Today's price surge repairs the damage that was done by a soft fourth-quarter report in February, but Web.com remains a speculative turnaround bet. So while it's not surprising to see investors clinging to a rare scrap of hope here, I'm happy to stay on the sidelines.