Yelp investor SQN says shares could surge to $55-$65

(Reuters) - SQN Investors LP said on Wednesday Yelp Inc’s shares could surge to between $55 and $65, up to 80 percent above its current price, if the customer review company appoints new board members and considers selling itself.

FILE PHOTO: The Yelp Inc. logo is seen in their offices in Chicago, Illinois, March 5, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

SQN, one of the biggest shareholders in Yelp with a more than 4 percent stake, said investors “must seize opportunity” to refresh board with three new directors, including stockholder representation.

The refreshed board will evaluate options such as possible sale of the company as an immediate private equity-led buyout could fetch $47 to $50 per share.

SQN said that Yelp should partner with companies like GrubHub Inc and ANGI Homeservices Inc and could alternatively seek potential bidders such as Inc or Facebook Inc.

Shares of Yelp were up 3.3 percent at $36.13 in late afternoon trading.

In response to SQN’s recommendation, Yelp said it was looking for additional board candidates and “is open to hearing any ideas and investor input, including from SQN”.

In the past several quarters, Yelp has struggled to grow, with revenue growth decelerating to high-single digits.

“We see Yelp’s challenges as mainly structural – exploiting the local internet market is a difficult task. We would argue that GrubHub has been the most successful in that endeavor,” DA Davidson analyst Thomas Forte said.

Last month, SQN called for an overhaul of the company’s board and appointment of new independent directors.

“We remain willing and open to meeting with SQN to hear their perspectives on the topics they have previously raised, all of which are items on which the Board has already been engaged,” Yelp said.

Reporting by Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Maju Samuel