As technology continues to lead the stock market, the top Internet stocks continue to look like the cream-of-the-crop in the sector. With earnings right around the corner for these top stocks to buy, the analysts at Cowen handicap the firm’s Outperform-rated companies in a new research report.
The Cowen team acknowledges that expectations are high for the market leaders, and while overall sentiment is positive for some of them, an earnings miss or disappointing guidance could weigh on share prices. Four stocks now rated Outperform at Cowen are Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P).
Facebook remains the face of social media, with no challenger anywhere in sight. The stock has been on fire for the past year, and the social media behemoth does not appear to be slowing down. The revenue change over the past year was an astounding 54.69%, and the stock comes in as a top Internet stock pick at Cowen.
With Instagram, Premium video and Graph Search capabilities, some analysts feel that the company can drive revenue growth even without a huge increase in advertising placement. The Cowen teams thinks the investor sentiment is very positive and that mobile advertising growth via different silos can be added this year, in 2016 and beyond.
The Cowen price target for the stock is $91. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is higher at $92.57. The stock closed on Tuesday at $83.51. Facebook reports earnings on April 22.
Google has dramatically underperformed over the past year, and the Cowen team points out that investor sentiment is quite negative now due to concerns about margins, mobile risk to the core search business, the company’s capital allocation stance and currency headwinds. Google remains the undisputed leader in Internet search, and with a diverse portfolio that includes everything from the Android platform and YouTube to the Google Wallet for automatic pay and the Google Flights tool, continued growth is not out of the question.
With a gigantic stash of cash, some are anticipating a capital return to shareholders, which Cowen does not think is in the cards now. The company does have some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley helping to drive innovation and growth, and Google at current discounted pricing may be on the of the best tech buys for not only this year, but many to come.
The Cowen price target is a gigantic $681. The consensus target is set at $645. The stock closed Tuesday at $539.78, down 1.6 %. Google reports earnings on April 23.
The stock continues to be a top media play on Wall Street, and many are now starting to anticipate a stock split in the streaming content giant. The consensus on Wall Street is that Netflix likely will continue to benefit from a materially stronger original content launch, which would bolster the already strong franchises like the hit political show “House of Cards.” With many consumers tired of rising cable and carrier content prices, the streaming leader may have a big 2015 in front of it.
The Cowen team notes that investor sentiment continues to stay positive on the stock as streaming hours and time spent on continues to rise. In fact, the company recently noted that it logged 10 billion streaming hours in the first quarter, up 20% year-over-year.
The Cowen price target is posted at $465, and the consensus estimate is $461.74. Those numbers both may go higher as the stock closed most recently at $478.71. Netflix reports after the close Wednesday.
Pandora Media is clearly not the only company with a big desire to be in the music streaming business, but it is the current leader in installation and use in the automotive world, with a penetration rate right at 70%, and it hopes to stay that way.
The analysts at Cowen point out that while the webcasting royalty hearings at the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington continues to be an overhang for the stock, investors are looking for strong user and local ad growth to continue to drive revenues for the company.
Cowen puts a $23 price target on the stock, and the consensus target is $21.44. Shares closed trading at $17.13 apiece. Pandora reports earnings on April 23.
The Cowen analysts are careful to point out that an earnings miss or poor guidance could take at least a temporary toll on some of these top stocks. With that in mind, they should continue to be growth leaders going forward in 2015 and beyond.