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What's Fueling eBay's Rocket Ride Today?

By Anders Bylund - Apr 1, 2013 at 1:57PM

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The online auction house is moving quickly into all-new markets.

Online auctioneer eBay (EBAY -0.71%) has jumped 3.5% as of 2 p.m. EDT on a pair of analyst upgrades.

Canaccord Genuity upgraded the stock from a hold to a buy, raising target prices from $56 to $67. Jefferies had already rated eBay a buy, but it upped its target from $62 to $66.

eBay shares are sniffing at 52-week and split-adjusted all-time highs in today's action. Reaching the analysts' new target prices would definitely push eBay investors past whatever entry prices they might have seen.

Wall Street absolutely loves this stock nowadays. According to StreetInsider, 32 of 41 eBay analysts pin a buy rating of the stock today, and the other nine consider it a hold. Nobody's betting against the stock, even at these near-record prices. Even the shorting bears are staying at home, with only 0.8% of eBay's float currently sold short.

Jefferies cited an upbeat analyst day as the catalyst for its target price boost. "We left eBay HQs encouraged by what we saw and heard from management (especially new [long-term] guidance that exceeded our and Street expectations)," said analyst Brian Pitz.

More specifically, eBay's technology and business model have been adjusted to address "omnichannel retail" on all five continents. That means moving beyond the pure e-commerce market and becoming an enabler for any kind of commerce.

This map of a massively larger market was a common sight in eBay's analyst presentation.

Management expects the addressable market to grow tenfold as a result, and then it's just a matter of converting potential clients to actual customers. "Our next 3-year journey is simply how do we capitalize in the opportunities that we have in front of us," said CFO Robert Swan.

eBay is not alone in this retail rethinking, of course. The company matches wits with at every turn and with MercadoLibre in many of the most promising global markets. Here's the silver lining to all this competition: There's no reason why a $10-trillion market couldn't support several thriving vendors. All three of these e-commerce innovators are winners in my book.

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