Technology

Jefferies Out With Top Software Picks for 2020: 4 Large-Cap Leaders to Buy Now

Lee Jackson

The entire technology sector has been on an insane run over the past year, and there is no question that many of the top companies are now trading with very stretched valuations. The good news for investors is that not all the top companies in the sector, especially in the software arena, are grossly overbought.

A new Jefferies research report highlights the firm’s top software picks for 2020. While they have selections in all market capitalization levels, here we focus on the large-cap selections, as they often can provide a degree of stability due to size and liquidity. These four are rated Buy and look like solid picks for 2020 and beyond.

Adobe Systems

Shares of this high-profile old-school software company have backed up in price and are offering the best entry point in quite some time. Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) operates in three segments: Digital Media, Digital Marketing and Print and Publishing. 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.

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 analysts anticipate that earnings may increase a solid 30% or more in the coming year.

The company recently hosted its MAX analyst day. The fiscal year 2020 revenue guide implies about 18% growth, in-line with Wall Street estimates. In addition, while Adobe typically reiterates the fiscal fourth-quarter guidance, it surprised to the upside and raised Digital Media net new annual recurring revenue by $25 million to $475 million.

The Jefferies analysts noted that fiscal year 2020 will market the fourth consecutive year of 60%+ revenue growth and operating margin for the company. That kind of strong operating results that can very possibly push the shares higher.

The Jefferies price target for the shares is $390, and the Wall Street consensus target was last seen at $345.58. The stock closed Monday’s trading at $345.83 a share.

Intuit

This company hits all the metrics in the technology sector for accounting needs. Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) is a provider of business and financial management solutions for small and medium-sized businesses, financial institutions, consumers and accounting professionals.

Products and services include TurboTax, QuickBooks, Quicken, small business financial management and payroll processing, personal finance and tax preparation and filing and online banking services through its Digital Insight acquisition. Intuit also offers products on a software as a service (SaaS) platform across all its business divisions.

Intuit has served small businesses and accountants with QuickBooks for more than 20 years. The company was an early innovator in cloud accounting when it first launched QuickBooks Online in 2001. QuickBooks Online has more than a million paying subscribers, cementing its market leadership as small businesses shift to the cloud.

Over 40% of small businesses are using either Quickbooks Online or Quickbooks Desktops, while 35% are using Excel or manual paper accounting. The Jefferies team remains very positive on the shares and noted that they think Intuit’s revenue growth will exceed the firm’s 10% or so guidance.

Intuit offers investors just a 0.77% dividend. Jefferies has a $320 price target, while the consensus price objective is lower at $280.56. The stock closed on Monday below those levels, at $276.04.