Chinadotcom gains on analyst coverage

Chinadotcom Corp. (Nasdaq: CHINA) rose 26 percent Friday after analysts said the company was more than just a Chinese-language portal.

Merrill Lynch analysts David Cui and Matei Mihalea on Friday started coverage of the online Asian Web directory with an "intermediate-term accumulate" rating.

Shares were up 6 1/8 to 29 15/16, or 26 percent on the news. The stock took off with a host of other China-related issues in May on news the trade pact paving China's admission to the WTO had been agreed upon.

"In our opinion, the company is more than just a Chinese-language portal, as is often perceived by the market," the analysts wrote in a statement. "We consider it a leading pan-Asian Internet company, operating in businesses ranging from e-solutions and online ad agencies to portals, often as a leader in these markets."

They praised the company's strategy to be a pan-Asian Internet company, building a network of Internet companies that has the potential to become more than the sum of its parts.

Chinadotcom reported strong revenue growth in its first quarter, and said it expects business to expand "with the likelihood of China's admisison to the WTO.

The company's competitors include Sina.com (Nasdaq: SINA), Sohu.com and Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM).