Earnings season kicked off last week, and market watchers are preparing for the worst. The upcoming release of first quarter financial results is marred by historic levels of uncertainty, with worry looming over Wall Street as investors await a more detailed look at the extent of COVID-19’s impact on profits.
JPMorgan quant guru Marko Kolanovic does offer a ray of hope: “Taking into account the unprecedented monetary and fiscal measures being implemented, as well as unprecedented asset declines over the past month, we maintain that asset price recovery is likely and our pre-pandemic equity price target for 2020 is achievable sometime in the first half of 2021.”
Investors now have a deceptively simple question in front of them: what should I do? There is no simple answer, but the stock analysts from JPMorgan may be able to set you on the right track. There are stocks with compelling cases to buy – as well as to avoid. We’ve taken three JPM stock calls and used the TipRanks database to sort out the details.
NeoPhotonics Corporation (NPTN)
We’ll start with NeoPhotonics, a leader in the optoelectronics field. The company uses lasers, semiconductors, and photonic circuits to transmit and receive high-density, high-volume data streams, above 200 gigabytes per second.
Accurate, fast data transmission is indispensable in today’s digital world, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that NPTN shares have outperformed the broader markets during the past few weeks of turmoil. The gains came after the stock beat its Q4 earnings forecast by 70%. Looking ahead, telecom experts predict that NeoPhotonics will bring in $375 million in 2020 revenue, realizing earnings of 24 cents per share for the year. Unlike many companies in recent days, NeoPhotonics has neither revised nor rescinded its forward guidance.
JPM’s Samik Chatterjee, rated 4 stars in the TipRanks database, reviewed this stock last week, and was moved to initiate coverage for the firm with a Buy rating. Supporting his view, he cites “NeoPhotonics has managed to carve out a leading position in the coherent portion of the optical component market, led by its vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities and core integration, which is poised for strong adoption driven by increasing bandwidth demands. We expect to see both telecom and cloud service providers respond to the bandwidth needs with adoption of higher speed optical modules, including 100G+ connections.Additionally, we expect the current COVID-19 led disruption to accelerate bandwidth needs from telecom service providers, driving further strength in the demand outlook.”
Chatterjee’s Buy rating is backed by an $11 price target, implying a healthy 30% growth potential this year. (To watch Chatterjee’s track record, click here)
The analyst consensus rating on NPTN is unanimous – of the 7 recent reviewers, all have given this stock a Buy rating, making their consensus a Strong Buy. NeoPhotonics’ share growth has pushed the stock price up sharply over the past month, bringing it close to the average price target and reducing the apparent upside. In the meantime, the average target of $9.71 does indicate another 15% upside from the current trading price of $8.40. (See NeoPhotonics stock analysis on TipRanks)
Genpact Limited (G)
The next of JPM’s Buy recommendations on our list is Genpact, a business support company. Genpact offers a range of services to its clients, ranging from business intelligence to enterprise resource planning to financial planning to technology integration to risk management. The company has a large presence in India, where it is a major employer, as well as 30 other countries.
Genpact’s services are in high demand, and the company finished 2019 on a positive note. Q4 earnings, at 57 cents per share, edged over the 56-cent forecast and grew 9.6% year-over-year. Quarterly revenues were also strong. The $940.7 million reported was up 12.6% yoy, and beat the forecast by over 3%. For full year 2019, revenues topped $3.5 billion, and G shares were outperforming the S&P 500 before the current bear market began.
Tien Tsin Huang, 5-star analyst with JPM, was impressed by G in his recent review of the stock. He notes that the COVID-19 epidemic has been impacting both supply and demand for business support firms, but sees Genpact as capable of withstanding the pressure. He writes, “G should benefit from clients’ need for digital transformation, which also drives demand for business process reengineering…” Huang also notes that current conditions may even work in the company’s favor: “G could benefit from increasing adoption of automation and offshore BPO as a result of COVID-19-driven disruptions to clients’ business models.”
In line with his long-term optimism, Huang upgraded his stance on G from Neutral to Buy. His $39 price target implies a 26% upside potential for the stock. (To watch Huang’s track record, click here)
Wall Street’s analysts appear to agree with Huang on Genpact’s prospects. They have given the stock 8 ratings in recent weeks, and their views break down as 7 Buys and just a single Hold, making the ‘analyst consensus rating’ a Strong Buy. Genpact’s shares are selling for an affordable $30.86, while the average price target, $42.38, suggests a robust 37% upside potential for the coming 12 months. (See Genpact stock analysis on TipRanks)
Casa Systems, Inc. (CASA)
The third stock on our list is the one that JPM says to avoid. Casa Systems is a small-cap telecom equipment maker, providing modems, optical, and wifi networking products in the fixed and mobile service segments. The company is involved in the upcoming 5G rollout, and has been working with Sprint on small cell 5G systems. It would seem to be an advantageous position.
On another positive note, Casa’s core business – cable access hardware – is one that is likely to see gains during the COVID-19 epidemic, as people look for in-home entertainment. However, Casa is also heavily invested in CCAP technology, with is giving way to distributed and virtualized cable architectures. Casa is facing headwinds as it attempts to navigate the transition away from its core CCAP products to the next-gen technologies without losing its customer base to newer competitors. Casa’s volatile earnings through 2019, swinging wildly between net-loss quarters and net-profits, and only beating the forecast twice during the year, reflect the difficulty it is facing in switching its products to new technologies.
Samik Chatterjee reviewed this stock, as well; but when he initiated coverage, he did so with a Sell rating. Chatterjee wrote, “We are initiating on shares of CASA with an Underweight rating led by: 1) strong market decline for core CCAP products to continue to be a headwind for incumbents; 2) limited revenue recognition from new products such as DAA nodes and virtual CCAP and a lag behind new competitors…” Chatterjee also pointed out the company’s high leverage, which will provide a heavy drag in today’s unpredictable market conditions. (To watch Chatterjee’s track record, click here.)
Chatterjee declined to place a specific target on this stock; however, the aggregated reviews from the TipRanks database will tell the story. CASA gets a Hold from Wall Street’s analyst corps, based on 1 Buy, 1 Sell, and 3 Hold reviews. The average price target is only $4.07, which indicates a downside potential for the coming year of 5% from the current share price of $4.28. (See Casa’s stock analysis at TipRanks)
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