Expectations were quite high for Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) heading into its earnings report. Analysts had piled on with higher price targets in the 10 days ahead of the report. What is interesting about the report is that Adobe beat estimates handily, and analysts continued raising their price targets. The post-earnings reaction did not match the report, but Adobe’s gains heading into earnings and the valuations proved to be too much for investors to keep chasing.
24/7 Wall St. covered the details of the Adobe report, and we tracked no less than a dozen analyst calls after its report.
During the quarter, Digital Media revenue increased 19% year over year to $2.34 billion. Creative revenue grew 19% to $1.96 billion, and Adobe’s Document Cloud revenue was up 22% to $375 million. A full breakdown of those numbers and annualized recurring revenue was covered in more detail.
Investors have a strategy of chasing stocks that report solid earnings. After all, why fight the trends. Adobe’s post-earnings drop was against a weak tech stock, and also perhaps because just too much great news already had been built into its ballooning stock price.
After the report, Adobe’s stock was valued at nearly 50 times expected earnings for this year and at nearly 45 times expected 2021 earnings. Despite having been public since the 1980s, Adobe had not yet joined the technology sector leaders in paying a dividend.
One issue that stood out was that some of the price target hikes seen after the report were from the exact same analysts who has lifted their price targets or raised their ratings ahead of its earnings report. These are the key analyst calls that were tracked this week.
Argus reiterated its Buy rating and raised its price target to $520, and that was after a target price upgrade to $474 from $368 in mid-June.
Barclays reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its target to $600 from $530, but on September 9 the firm also reiterated that same Overweight rating and raised its target from $450 to $530.
BofA Securities reiterated Adobe as a Buy and raised its price objective to $570 from $440.
BMO Capital Markets reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target from $535 to $560.
Cowen reiterated its Outperform rating, after upgrading it from Market Perform on September 11. The analyst raised the price target $585 from $555 on Wednesday morning, though the firm had raised its target to $555 from $400 on that formal upgrade last week.
Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target to $560 from $425.
DZ Bank raised its rating to Buy from Hold and assigned a $570 price target.
Jefferies reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target $600 from $570, though it just reiterated its Buy rating on September 9 and took the target up to that $570 mark from a prior $470.
Morgan Stanley reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its target to $560 from $450 on September 14.
Oppenheimer reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target from $430 to $550.
Piper Sandler reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its target to $570 from $430.
RBC Capital Markets reiterated it as Outperform and raised its target to $570 from $550. On September 10, the firm reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target from $440 to $550.
R.F. Lafferty reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target price to $570 from $550.
Stifel reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $550 from $426.
UBS reiterated its Buy rating again and raised its target to $577 from $540. On September 10, the firm reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $540 from $450.
Not every single analyst is pounding the table for clients to buy Adobe’s stock, now that it has run up so much. After all, Adobe was last seen up about 50% year to date, and its stock was up about 75% from a year ago.
Citigroup reiterated its Neutral rating on Adobe, and it may be the sole target cut, from $530 to $523.
Goldman Sachs reiterated its Neutral rating but raised its target price to $520 from $460.
Wells Fargo reiterated Adobe as Equal Weight and raised its target price from $375 to $500.
When you see this many analyst price target hikes and this much of a subsequent slide, the verdict is simple: The stock was just too far ahead of itself, even if it is a winner in the current environment. Even after the pullback, this stock was still up over 40% year to date and still up about 70% from a year ago.
Adobe’s shares closed up 2.4% at $497.67 ahead of earnings, but the shares had traded as high as $536.88 at the start of September. The stock initially was indicated up 2% at $508.00 in Wednesday’s premarket trading, but its stock slid during the week. Adobe was then trading right around $458 late on Friday.
Adobe is a great company that has transformed itself and still has incredible growth opportunities ahead of it. That just doesn’t mean its stock can rise in a straight line and have endlessly rising valuations without reality checks along the way.
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