With the holidays over and fourth-quarter earnings reports ready to start rolling out fast and furious, many of the top companies we follow on Wall Street are making some changes to the lists of their high-conviction stock picks for clients for 2018. With the market continuing to trade to near all-time highs, it makes sense to examine the lists and make some changes as the rest of the year could have additional volatility as the political and world landscape looks to remain unsettled.
In a new research note, the analysts at Wedbush make a move by swapping out a top medical devices company. They noted in the report that they are removing Dexcom Inc. (NASDAQ: DXCM) as the analyst on the company has left the firm.
Four additional companies on the list make good sense for growth stock investors looking for top first-quarter 2018 ideas. All are rated Outperform at Wedbush.
This stock remains a top pick on Wall Street and Wedbush says to buy any dip now. Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) develops and publishes online, personal computer (PC), video game console, handheld, mobile and tablet games worldwide. It develops and publishes interactive entertainment software products through retail channels or digital downloads and downloadable content to a range of gamers.
The company reported outstanding results that the beat estimates and raised forward guidance. Top Wall Street analysts agree the company guidance is conservative and, with multiple game releases coming the rest of this year, the stock remains a top buy for this year as well.
Shareholders receive a 0.47% dividend. The Wedbush price target for the shares is $75, and the Wall Street consensus target is $71.76. The stock traded early Wednesday at $65.45.
This leading video game developer also should benefit from not only the continuing rise in new console sales, but also the rising trend of mobile gaming. Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) produces top-selling games and related content and services under the EA brand in various categories, including action-adventure, role-playing, racing and first-person shooter games.
The company, which is very well known for its EA sports games like Madden Football, has made the move into mobile play by adapting many of the top franchise titles, which have been popular for years, into the mobile arena.
The key holiday launch of “Star Wars Battlefront” will be the near-term focus and biggest swing factor for fiscal 2018. Many top analysts believe if Star Wars can encourage users to spend on virtual goods, similar to FIFA, the game could drive meaningful upside to fiscal 2018 and 2019 earning.
Wedbush has a $136 price target, and the consensus target is $127.56. The stock traded at $110.15 Wednesday morning.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Though this stock has sold off recently, it is a top pick at Wedbush in the retail and consumer sector. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: NCLH) is the world’s third-largest cruise company, and it owns and operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The company acquired Prestige Cruise Holdings, the parent company for Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in 2014 to diversify into the premium and luxury segments of the market and expand its global footprint. Today, Norwegian has 25 ships across all three brands and offers itineraries to more than 510 destinations.
The company reported strong third-quarter results that beat expectations, given solid underlying bookings strength. For 2018, bookings are up meaningfully on both volume and price, which lead many analysts like Wedbush to bump up net yield forecasts.
The $65 Wedbush price target is in line with the consensus target of $64.65. Shares were last seen at $55.35.
This company has a solid following on Wall Street and is a top technology play for 2018 at Wedbush. Vantiv Inc. (NASDAQ: VNTV) is a payment processor. Its segments include Merchant Services and Financial Institution Services. The company offers a range of payment processing services that enable its clients to meet their payment processing needs through a single provider.
Vantiv’s products enables merchants to accept and process credit, debit and prepaid payments, and they provide them supporting value-added services, such as security solutions and fraud management, information solutions and interchange management.
It also provides payment services to financial institutions, such as card issuer processing, payment network processing, fraud protection, card production, prepaid program management, automated teller machine (ATM) driving and network gateway and switching services that utilize the company’s Jeanie personal identification number (PIN) debit payment network.
The Wedbush price objective is $100. The consensus price target is $83.65, and the shares were trading at $74.15.
All the Wedbush Best Ideas List picks make good sense for more aggressive growth accounts that have a higher risk tolerance. The mere fact that they don’t chase big momentum stocks or stodgy snail-like industrials is an advantage for investors looking for alpha opportunities.