Web portals are hot, but Morgan Stanley starts coverage of Trulia with 'underweight'

Analysts at Morgan Stanley initiated coverage of real estate listings portal Trulia today with an “underweight” rating. After opening down more than 6 percent, Trulia’s share price rebounded and was approaching Wednesday’s closing price of $29.35 in late morning trading.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday noted that the share prices of Trulia and Zillow are up about 90 percent this year, while shares in Realtor.com operator Move Inc. have also seen a 60 percent gain.

The Journal reports that some analysts see those gains as justified by deeper fundamentals than the housing recovery alone. The big three portals are fighting for a bigger share of the roughly $20 billion a year that research firm Borrell Associates Inc. estimates real estate industry players — primarily brokers and agents — spend on online advertising.

One strategy is to acquire smaller players — Trulia’s plan to acquire Market Leader for $355 million would be the biggest deal to date.

Zillow has acquired a half dozen companies since 2011: HotPads, RentJuice, Mortech Inc., Buyfolio, Diverse Solutions and Postlets.

Last month, Move announced that it had acquired Doorsteps, a Web-based platform designed to help agents walk clients through the homebuying process. Last year Move purchased Relocation.com, a lead generation site for moving professionals, for $11.5 million, and real estate lead generation and management firm TigerLead Solutions LLC for $22 million.

Source: tickerreport.com.