NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of Blue Apron Holdings Inc ARPN.N jumped as much as 20 percent on Monday, reversing some of their heavy losses from the past few weeks, after several brokerages initiated coverage of the meal-kit service with a bullish outlook.
Concerns about what Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) $13.7 billion deal to buy grocer Whole Foods Market Inc WFM.O would mean for the fast-growing meal-kit industry have weighed on Blue Apron’s shares ever since their market debut on June 29.
But analysts at RBC Capital Markets, Canaccord Genuity and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey started coverage with “buy” ratings, boosting shares that had fallen 11 percent last week on news Amazon had filed for a trademark for a possible rival service.
Blue Apron shares were last up 12 percent at $7.35, but still well below their $10 initial public offering price. The shares hit a low of $6.23 last week.
“We believe Blue Apron is addressing a large multi-billion dollar market that is nearly all Offline and taking spend away from both traditional grocers and restaurants (take-away and dining-in),” wrote RBC’s Mark Mahaney in a research note.
“Further, based on our work, Blue Apron appears to be the clear leader in the U.S. market and is providing customers with a strong value proposition, particularly as it relates to ‘convenience’ and ‘variety’.”
RBC initiated coverage of the company with a “market outperform” rating and a $10 price target.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham gave a “buy” rating and a price target of $14, saying that excluding Amazon, the competitive landscape seems manageable for Blue Apron.
SunTrust gave a “buy” rating with a $12 price target while Morgan Stanley initiated coverage with an “equal” rating and a price target of $7.50.
Barclays gave an “equal weight” rating with $7 price target.
Blue Apron’s rebound on Monday drew a rush of activity in the stock’s options.
About 19,000 Blue Apron options contracts changed hands by 1:45 P.M. ET (1745 GMT), making it the busiest day for the options since they listed two weeks ago, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert.
Trading sentiment leaned toward bullish bets as traders appeared to be betting that the stock will avoid deeper losses in coming months.
Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli