Why Wedbush Is Growing Extremely Bullish on Autodesk Ahead of Earnings

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Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) is scheduled to release its most recent quarterly results next week, but this is not stopping one key analyst from weighing in on the stock early. The firm is predicting a beat for both EPS and revenue, based on better visibility from the ratable model. Not to mention, the firm issued a street-high price target for the stock.

Wedbush upgraded Autodesk to an Outperform rating and raised its price target to a street-high $120 from $78, versus a $93.39 closing price. The price target implies an upside of roughly 27%.

Overall, Wedbush has been cautious about the pace and lumpiness of Autodesk’s model transition. Several recent developments make the firm more positive that the transition can settle into a more consistent, predictable pattern and that the company can hit its long-term targets. Specifically, Wedbush is encouraged by Autodesk’s accelerated pace of share buybacks, initial maintenance price increases, and first-quarter checks pointing to an upturn in collections sales and strong customer interest in an upcoming M2S program to boost new model subs.

Qualitatively, the firm sees signs that larger channel partners are embracing subscriptions as a better business model. End-market conditions have stabilized over the past 12 months, and any progress on U.S. infrastructure legislation could be a catalyst for this stock.

Wedbush has been behind the curve on its price targets and outlook for the share price, and shares have moved up significantly since March. However, the firm sees good prospects for more share price upside ahead, as calendar 2019 and 2020 targets begin to come into focus next year and the company’s model becomes near fully (roughly 90%) ratable.

In terms of the coming quarter, Wedbush said:

We’re raising our estimates across the board; our 2020 free cash flow (FCF)/ share estimate is higher by about 30% (to $5.19) and we see potential upside if Autodesk fully executes on its repurchase plan. It’s unusual for us to boost our estimates so dramatically at one time, but several recent developments have coalesced to prompt us to rethink our assumptions and sharpen our pencil. These include: (1) the company’s successful repatriation of $1.7 billion of foreign cash and its plan to use a majority of this cash to repurchase shares; (2) Autodesk’s plan to raise maintenance prices by a total of 39% over the next three years, and the execution of the first increase on May 7; (3) our first quarter (April) checks pointing to a positive inflection in higher-value Collections subscription sales, which bodes well for ARPS (i.e. ASP) trends later this year.

Shares of Autodesk were last seen up 1.5% at $94.74 on Tuesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $91.50 and a 52-week trading range of $49.82 to $95.30.