In Depth: The Alibaba IPO

Analyst recommends buying Alibaba AFTER it opens

Bullish case for BABA
Bullish case for BABA

Individual investors seldomly get a chance to buy hot stock debuts at their initial public offering prices, and this week's Alibaba offering is no different.

But one analyst told CNBC on Thursday that investors would still do well to buy Alibaba after the stock starts trading on Wall Street on Friday. "I do have a buy rating on the stock after it opens," said Neil Doshi, co-head of technology and media companies at CRT Capital Group.

Not all market watchers share Doshi's optimism.

Thiel on Alibaba IPO
Thiel on Alibaba IPO

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an early Facebook investor, said on "Squawk Box" on Wednesday that he's dubious of the Alibaba hype. "The contrarian instinct I have [is] there is something odd about an IPO where people are constantly saying it's underpriced."

"After it opens, it's just like any other public stock," Thiel said.

The Chinese e-commerce company's IPO is expected to price after the closing bell Thursday and begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BABA on Friday. The price range was recently bumped up to $66 to $68 a share due to strong demand—valuing the offering at as much as $21.8 billion.

"This company has a proven track record for revenue growth and profitability," Doshi said in a "Squawk Box" interview Thursday. He has a $95 price target on Alibaba over the next 12 months.

Alibaba is often likened to U.S. e-commerce leader Amazon, where online sales margins are extremely tight. But the CRT Capital analyst said it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.

"Think about it as a Google product listings, plus an eBay commissions model. Amazon takes a bunch of inventory risk. They own their own distribution centers. Alibaba takes no inventory risks. They partnered with 14 logistical firms in China." That enables higher margins at Alibaba, he added.

But Doshi does recognize some risk about investing in a Chinese company. "We seen a lot of counterfeit and fake products on Alibaba," he said. "Alibaba management will have to go through a pretty extensive cleaning process. That may hurt short-term revenues. But I think in the long run will be positive."

Alibaba's market share topped out: Chang
Alibaba's market share topped out: Chang

Meanwhile, John Rutledge, chief investment strategist at wealth management firm Safanad, told CNBC on Thursday that he'd advise individual investors to sit the Alibaba out. He said Chinese companies are "complicated and tricky."

China critic Gordon Chang, author of "The Coming Collapse of China," said he'd stay away from Alibaba because Chinese "consumption is sagging." He said it was no wonder that founder Jack Ma stressed Alibaba's expansion plans in the U.S. and Europe in his road show pitch to potential investors.

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere