Is ValueClick Next?

NEW YORK (AP) – Shares of ValueClick Inc. were up in premarket activity Monday after a spate of buyouts in the online advertising and marketing industry left the Westlake Village, Calif., one of the last remaining stand-alone companies in the business.

Microsoft Corp. on Friday said it would buy aQuantive Inc., following on the heels of Google Inc.'s purchase of DoubleClick and WPP Group Inc.'s buyout of 24/7 Real Media.

ThinkEquity Partners analyst Stewart Barry released a note to clients Monday that said ValueClick “should be next.”

He suggested Microsoft might be interested, as ValueClick “would be complementary to the aQuantive acquisition,” noting they considered combining themselves in the past.

Barry said Google and Time Warner, parent of AOL, also might be candidates to buy ValueClick, not only to bolster their own ad networks but to prevent Microsoft from buying it, and listed other Internet companies that might be “anxious to avoid being shut out with the last large-scale digital advertising property on the line.”

Barry raised his price target on the stock to $43, and reiterated a “Buy” rating.

ValueClick shares added $1.50, or 5 percent, to $31.50 in premarket electronic trading, from their close Friday at $30.