Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) shares are soaring today, after analysts at Sterne Agee announced that they were upgrading the stock. The report issued to investors today, indicates that this is an “out-of-consensus upgrade,” based on a long-term view. They emphasize that their upgrade of the stock is not based on the company’s upcoming earnings report.

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Shares of Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) are up 5 percent in Wednesday morning tradeing. Analysts at Stern Agee have upgraded the stock from Neutral to Buy and established a price target of $9 per share. They said “meaningful risks” still linger, and the stock will continue to be volatile. They admit that they “may be a bit early” in their upgrade of the stock, although they believe most of the risks are apparent and already priced into the company’s shares.

Sterne Agee analysts said they upgraded the stock because they are beginning to see it “evolve beyond its current business.” Instead of continuing to push sales via email, Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) is beginning to pull in sales via search engines and direct site traffic. This shows more of an initiative in getting customers by pulling them in via search engines rather than requiring them to click on a link in their email. They said at this point, only 5 percent of the company’s revenue is from search engine marketing.

However, about 25 percent of all searches and about half of all mobile searches are local in nature. The analysts believe this provides a “meaningful untapped opportunity” for the company. Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) has also increased the number of active U.S. deals 13 times in the last year, which they believe will provide growth for the company.

Analysts at Sterne Agee also expect more positive results in future quarters as management renews its international focus.

The analysts said Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) has been testing a local e-commerce market place in New York and Chicago. They predict that the test will be rolled out to other cities and nationally in future quarters and that it has the potential to turn into a major driver of growth for the company.