Bull Moves: J.P. Morgan Upgraded These 3 Key Tech Stocks

Leaving aside the day-to-day fluctuations, markets are on an upswing. The NASDAQ, the popular tech-heavy index, is within 2% of its all-time high, and the S&P 500 is showing similar performance. Investors’ positive sentiment is underlain by the recent election, which appears to have settled the political scene in favor of governmental gridlock, and the prospect of not one, but two, COVID vaccines on the near-term horizon. That, combined with the Fed’s near-zero interest rate policy, has investors both willing to buy into the market, and short of alternate choices. It’s a recipe for stock gains.

JPMorgan analysts have taken note of the bullish mood in the markets, and they have started tapping the stocks they believe will take the best advantage of the current situation. The tech industry has caught their particular attention.

JPM’s general thesis is that the economy will start rising by middle of next year. In a research report on the software technology niche, 5-star analyst Sterling Auty is charting a course among the winners and losers of the software industry.

“If economic expansion does materialize beginning in the June quarter, we believe these [designer software name] stocks will be direct beneficiaries. [They] have direct exposure to manufacturing, industrial, and construction, which should be core to expansion,” Auty opined.

So let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Auty and his team have picked three software companies that they believe are primed for gains in 2021. They are so certain, in fact, that they have just upgraded their stance on the companies. We used TipRanks’ database to find out what other Wall Street analysts have to say about the prospects of these three

Cadence Design Systems (CDNS)

First up is Cadence Design, a leader in the electronic design field. The company works to integrate software, hardware, and IP concepts into higher reality. Cadence counts major global companies among its customers, and delivers a full gamut of products, from chips to boards to systems. The company is involved in cloud systems, 5G telecom, automotive and aerospace tech, and health care systems. Part of Cadence’s advantage is scale.

2020 has become a byword for a difficult year, but CDNS has managed to go against that bad-news trend. The company saw revenues make a sequential gain in Q1, and rise in each quarter since then. For the third quarter, EPS came in at 70 cents per share based on $197 million in adjusted earnings. Total revenue was reported at $661.6 million. Both EPS and revenues came in significantly above the analyst forecasts.

Share performance has also been strong in 2020. After some steep losses in the winter of last year, when the pandemic forced economic shutdown policies, the stock quickly rallied and recouped the lost ground. CDNS is now trading up 68% year-to-date.

Covering the stock for JPMorgan, analyst Jackson Ader noted: “The EDA (electronic design automation) software segment should generate roughly mid-single-digit growth for its core tools with the potential for faster growth through ancillary product areas including pre-built design IP […] We believe Cadence’s investment into 3D solvers opens up a larger addressable market and believe that a shift towards more cyclically exposed names will further boost growth.”

In line with those comments, Ader upgrades Cadence from Neutral to Overweight (i.e. Buy). His $145 price target suggests the stock has room for 24% growth in the year ahead. (To watch Ader’s track record, click here)

Overall, CDNS shares have a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus, based on 8 reviews which include 7 Buys and 1 Hold. The stock is selling for $116.85, and its $131.14 average price target implies a 12% upside potential. (See CDNS stock analysis on TipRanks)

Intuit, Inc. (INTU)

Intuit is a company that some may be familiar with. Or at least, you may be familiar with its most famous product, TurboTax. The company’s line of software products are all marketed toward a common bottom line: to make compliance with financial laws and regulations easy and intuitive, for private individuals and businesses alike.

Making tax code compliance relatively easy has helped Intuit carve out a reliable niche, one that has sustained the company through this difficult year. The company saw its revenues spike in the calendar Q2, which coincides with the US tax reporting season – no surprise there, that is usually Intuit’s strongest quarter. Since then, revenues have tapered off but remained strong. For the company’s most recent report, fiscal Q1, the top line hit $1.3 billion, up 14% year-over-year, and above the $1.2 billion estimate.

With revenues beating the forecasts and growing year-over-year, it’s also no wonder that Intuit’s shares have posted gains this year. INTU is up 39% year-to-date, having erased losses it took during the ‘corona recession’ last winter.

Among the bulls is JPM analyst Sterling Auty who sees strong potential for Intuit to keep growing in the coming year.

“The significant increase in tax customers from this past tax year still creates an attractive ongoing cash flow stream. On the small business front, there still could be two more quarters of significant headwinds on business closures, but there was a material increase in new business applications that could signal a rebound is on the way. If interest rates remain low and capital available as we head into the release of vaccines, we would expect the continued robust small business creation environment,” Auty noted.

Keeping that in mind, Auty upgraded the JPM stance on INTU to Overweight (i.e. Buy). His $450 price target indicates confidence in 24% growth for the year ahead. (To watch Auty’s track record, click here)

With 12 recent reviews, breaking down to 11 Buys and a single Hold, Intuit gets a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus. The stock average price target $412.83, suggests it has room for 14% growth from the current trading price of $362.10. (See INTU stock analysis on TipRanks)

Autodesk (ADSK)

Last but not least is Autodesk, a venerable name in the design segment. The company’s flagship product is the well-known AutoCAD, one of the earliest computer aided design programs. Today, the company offers a line of design software for a range of industries: media, education, architecture, engineering, manufacturing.

The company’s last fiscal year was strong, and fiscal 2021 has so far been supported by strong quarters. The most recent quarterly results, for F3Q21, beat the forecast and grew 13% year-over-year, hitting $952 million. Recurring revenue made up 97% of that total, indicating that Autodesk has a solid customer base to stand on.

In the note on Autodesk, analyst Sterling Auty sees the company with sound prospects, and recommends it as the ‘value name’ in CAD.

“We think the company is positioned well given its longstanding presence in the architecture and building information management (BIM) spaces, which present strong opportunities for cross and upselling. The stock also offers an attractive valuation compared to its peers,” Auty opined.

Auty upgrades ADSK to an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, while setting a $345 price target. At current levels, that suggests an upside of 23%.

Recent share appreciation on ADSK has pushed the stock value up almost to the average price target. Shares are selling for $279.95, while the average target, $295.21, leaves room for 5.5% upside. Yet, the analyst consensus on the stock remains a Strong Buy based on 14 reviews, split 12 to 2 between Buys and Holds. (See ADSK stock analysis on TipRanks)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.