Technology

Analyst's 5 High-Growth Software Stocks to Buy for 2015

With yields plunging and inflation expectations dropping as well, growth investors are looking for the best avenues to make money in 2015. The analysts at Jefferies have just added a basket of software stocks to the firm’s “10 to 2” 2015 investment theme silo.

In a new research report, they maintain that the top software stocks are both a play on the capital expenditure cycle for 2015, as well as generating strong cash flow. Noting that a strong dollar could provide some overseas headwinds, the analysts see that acknowledged by the market and priced into stocks current trading levels.

With the U.S. and European governments and the financial services sector accounting for almost half of all software sales, the Jefferies team has a list of five top stocks that look poised to benefit the most this year. All are rated Buy at Jefferies.

Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) loves income tax time as its Turbo Tax product is one of the most widely used, and sales are expected to be very solid once again this year. It is also well-known for the QuickBooks line of accounting software, which is used by firms big and small. The company announced this week it is launching QuickBooks Online Self-Employed, a new product that makes it easy for the rapidly expanding population of freelancers and independent contractors to handle small business accounting. The company estimates 43% of all workers will be self-employed by 2020.

Intuit investors are paid a 1.1% dividend. The Jefferies price target for this top software company is $110. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $93.73, and the stock closed trading Tuesday at $86.31.

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Qlik Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: QLIK) is another fast-rising tech name with a big buzz on Wall Street. The company’s QlikView Business Discovery platform lets people quickly bring data sources together to create dynamic visual applications that can be navigated and searched intuitively. The company’s products helped retailers during the holiday season by providing them with timely and relevant information about inventory and stock, enabling purchasing managers to better anticipate demand and advise production teams.

The Jefferies price target is $39, and consensus target is $33.28. Shares closed on Tuesday at $29.97.

RingCentral Inc. (NYSE: RNG) is a leading provider of cloud-based business communications solutions. Easier to manage and more flexible than on-premises communications systems, RingCentral’s cloud solution meets the needs of modern distributed and mobile workforces, while eliminating the expense and complications of on-premises traditional hardware-based systems and software. Many on Wall Street see the company expanding distribution through carrier relationships and geographic expansion among the keys to growth going forward.

The Jefferies price target is $20, while the consensus target for the stock is $19. RingCentral closed trading Tuesday at $14.80.

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Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) is one of the companies surveyed resellers pointed to last fall as having an extreme amount of current momentum. 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. Current research suggests spending on cloud-based big data and analytics solutions could skyrocket over the next five years, growing three times faster than traditional, on-site servers. That means more companies using hybrids of public and private clouds on corporate networks, a huge plus for Splunk.

The Jefferies price target is $89, and the consensus target is much lower at $75.84. The stock closed on Tuesday at $57.31.

VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) was a top stock to buy on Wall Street until back-to-back mediocre earnings releases in 2014. It is still a leader in cloud storage software and its cloud computing service is a new offering for customers. Its vCloud Hybrid Service has not been designed or marketed as a standalone public cloud as of yet. Many Wall Street analysts believe that on a pricing basis it is one of the more expensive offerings. The ability to tie its software solutions in with public cloud service may be a huge winner in the future. Most Wall Street analysts maintain that if VMware can grow its channel partners to increase the adoption rate of NSX, the company can become more balanced and lessen its dependency on its virtualization business.

The Jefferies price target is set at an impressive $128, while the consensus target is $101.68. VMware closed Tuesday at $80. Investors can also indirectly own VMware by buying the stock of storage giant EMC.

ALSO READ: The Bullish and Bearish Case for Microsoft in 2015

With corporate and government needs for software multiplying, the companies at the forefront of future technologies and applications will be the winners. Jefferies has five that fit that bill for aggressive growth investors now.