After starting out the year absolutely on fire, the software segment did slow down as volatility, valuations and just plain profit-taking ate into some of the huge early gains. The pullback in some of the top companies over the past 60 days is providing more aggressive accounts some much nicer entry points. With earnings reports right around the corner, now may be a good time to add some shares of the industry leaders.
A new and very in-depth Baird report on software sector notes that while the stocks in the firm’s coverage list did pull back sharply, they still ended the quarter up a stunning 18%. The analysts remain cautiously optimistic and noted this:
The hot start to 2018 leaves software investors pondering where the sector goes from here. We believe fundamentals entering the first quarter 2018 reporting season remain robust, but acknowledge strong performance and prior multiple expansion could cause sideways trading in upcoming months.
With that cautious stance in mind, we screened the Baird software coverage list for larger capitalization stocks rated Outperform and found five that still look like solid plays for aggressive accounts.
This high-profile old-school software company has posted outstanding earnings. Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) operates in three segments. The Digital Media segment provides tools and solutions that enable individuals, small and medium businesses, and enterprises to create, publish, promote and monetize their digital content. The other segments are Digital Marketing and Print and Publishing.
Top Wall Street analysts see the company benefiting from artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, automation bots, speech recognition and natural language processing and image recognition. Some on Wall Street see earnings per share increasing a solid 30% or more for 2018.
The Baird team feels the company deserves a premium multiple to its peers due to Adobe’s strong competitive position in the creative space and above-average growth prospects.
The Baird price target for the shares is $240, and the Wall Street consensus target is $248.19. The stock closed Thursday at $223.54 a share.
This top stock has traded sideways for almost a year and looks ready to break out and go higher. Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) is a design software and services company providing a range of solutions for customers in architectural, engineering, construction, manufacturing, geospatial mapping and digital media markets.
The company sells 2D horizontal design solutions like AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT 3D model-based design solutions that are widely used design software tools. Autodesk products allow users to simulate and analyze real-world performance by creating digital prototypes early in the design process.
Baird has a $145 price target, and the consensus target is $145.81. The shares closed trading on Thursday at $128.02.
This top company reported solid fiscal 2018 second-quarter results as billings drastically improved, and Jefferies recently upgraded it to Buy. Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) provides enterprise cloud computing solutions, with a focus on customer relationship management to various businesses and industries worldwide.
It offers enterprise cloud computing applications and platform services, including Sales Cloud that enables companies to store data, monitor leads and progress, forecast opportunities, gain insights through relationship intelligence and collaborate around sales on desktop and mobile devices.
The company also provides Service Cloud, which enables companies to deliver personalized customer service and support, as well as connect their service agents with customers on various devices; and Marketing Cloud, which enables companies to plan, personalize and optimize customer interactions.
The $135 Baird price target is less than the $137.43 consensus price objective. The stock closed on Thursday at $119.04.
This company has come into the spotlight as a potential takeover candidate. Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS) is leading the transition to software-defining the workplace, uniting virtualization, mobility management, networking and SaaS solutions to enable new ways for businesses and people to work better.
Citrix solutions power business mobility through secure, mobile workspaces that provide people with instant access to apps, desktops, data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud. Strategic mergers and acquisitions and internal development have expanded Citrix’s addressable markets beyond access to legacy Windows applications to include desktop and server virtualization, team collaboration and application networking.
Baird has set its price objective at $100. The consensus figure is $92.59, and shares closed trading most recently at $92.71.
This red-hot stock has had an outstanding year. ServiceNow Inc. (NYSE: NOW) develops and sells a hosted, subscription-based suite of services designed to automate various IT department functions, such as help desk, operations management and change/release management.
The company also sells a number of applications that automate various self-service-related applications outside of the IT department, such as HR onboarding, facilities requests and governance, risk and compliance.
The Baird price target is $190. The consensus target is $171.74, and shares closed at $165.77.
Five top stocks for aggressive accounts to look at. With first-quarter earnings reports in the queue, investors may want to buy partial positions and see how the results come in.