While the earnings reporting season has finished for much of the S&P 500, some of the top software stocks are now hopping out of the on-deck circle to present earnings for the quarter that ended in October. One thing remains clear, the companies that focus on the cloud, big data and security could be the big winners for investors. A new report from the analysts at UBS previews the upcoming earnings, and the companies that may hit the ball out of the park.
The UBS analysts note in the report that over the past 10 years software stocks have been up on average 16% during the August through December period. They have lagged noticeably this year, in part due to the massive market sell-off that ended in mid-October, and are up just 8%. If current fundamentals hold through the end of the year, the UBS team believes the structural winners could continue a strong rally into year-end.
Here are the top software stocks to buy now at UBS. We have also included the dates when they will report earnings.
Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) operates as a design software and services company worldwide. Its Platform Solutions and Emerging Business segment offers AutoCAD software, a computer-aided design application for professional design, drafting, detailing and visualization. It also offers AutoCAD LT, a professional drafting and detailing software. The stock has performed well this year, and the analysts feel it is due in part to its plans to accelerate the shift to a subscription-based business model.
UBS has a $65 price target for the stock. The Thomson/First Call consensus figure is slightly higher at $66. Shares closed trading Tuesday at $58.99. The company will report earnings on November 20.
Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) has been the momentum stock trader’s dream this year, up over 17%. Many analysts on Wall Street feel that while the stock trades in line with its fast organic SaaS peer group, they believe the company should trade at a premium to the group owing to its dominant positioning in the powerful cloud, mobile and social computing waves, larger revenue run-rate compared to the group average, stronger cash generation, and its TAM, which is substantially larger than the peer group average. With new versions and additions to the company’s traditional CRM product, sales for the quarter could be outstanding.
The UBS price objective is $76, and the consensus target is posted at $69.44. Shares closed trading on Tuesday at $64.06. The company will report on November 19.
Guidewire Software Inc. (NYSE: GWRE) provides system software to the property and casualty insurance industry, primarily in the United States, Canada and Australia. It provides Internet-based software platforms for core insurance operations, including underwriting and policy administration, claim management and billing. The UBS team sees Europe as a key growth segment for the company in fiscal 2015.
The UBS price target for this top software stock is $56. The consensus target is $54.50. The stock closed Tuesday at $52.62. The company will report earnings the first week of December.
Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW) could be one of the hot security stocks that investors can snag before earnings are reported. Persistent security threats have damaged the reputations of some top American companies, and most will do anything to protect their data and customer information. The company is helping to lead a new era in cybersecurity by protecting thousands of enterprise, government and service provider networks from cyber threats, and it boasted a staggering 46% year-over-year billing growth.
UBS has a $111 price target, while the consensus is at $111.37. Shares ended trading Tuesday at $108.20. The company reports on November 24.
Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) is one of the companies that recently surveyed resellers pointed to as having an extreme amount of current momentum. The company provides the leading software platform for real-time operational intelligence. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices.
The UBS price target is $64, and the consensus rests at $69.18. The stock closed on Tuesday at $67.03. Splunk reports earnings on November 20.
With earnings right around the corner, aggressive investors may want to buy one or more of these top software stocks in front of the numbers in the hope that a meaningful print and analysts estimate beat can give the stock a large boost. Even if numbers are just inline, they all remain solid tech holdings.