3 “Strong Buy” Stocks Backed By Megabanker Morgan Stanley

Tech stocks are doing great in 2019. In fact, according to Fidelity Investments, through the end of the third fiscal quarter 2019, “tech” stocks set the hottest pace of any sector in the market, rising 27% year to date, beating out consumer discretionary stocks (22%), industrials (21%), and real estate (20%), too.

So how do you find the next hot tech stock to buy? One way might be to screen for stocks expected to grow their earnings strongly over the next five years, enjoying “strong buy” ratings from analysts in general, and endorsed by analysts at major investment banks in particular, such as Morgan Stanley. In today’s column, we’ll examine three such stocks highlighted with use of TipRanks’ Stock Screener:

Vonage: 52% Upside

According to TipRanks’ screener, the consensus on Wall Street is that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider Vonage (VGGet Report) is a “strong buy” for investors. Last month, Morgan Stanley analyst Meta Marshall initiated coverage of the stock with an “equal-weight” rating.

But Marshall might as well have said “buy” — because this analyst thinks Vonage stock, currently at $11 and change, could zoom ahead to $15 within a year, delivering 35% profits to new investors. (To watch Marshall’s track record, click here)

Vonage’s 395-times-earnings valuation today doesn’t exactly look cheap. It’s hard to imagine why investors would pay 35% more than that to own a stock where earnings declined 45% last quarter. On the other hand, though, Vonage’s sales increased a respectable 15% last quarter, and most analysts agree that earnings will soon follow suit, averaging 12.5% annual growth over the next five years.

Lending support to that view, Vonage’s free cash flow is already positive — decidedly so, with nearly $65 million generated over the last year, or nearly 10x reported GAAP profits. Marshall cites the company’s “leveraged … cash flow” as a reason to like the business, and says he sees “significant value” in the stock from a sum-of-the-parts perspective.

All in all, most analysts on Wall Streets are out rooting for Vonage to be a winning stock pick, as TipRanks analytics showcase VG as a Strong Buy. Based on 5 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 4 rate a Buy on Vonage stock while 1 says Hold. (See VG’s price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)

Plantronics (Poly): 69% Upside

Another stock that Morgan Stanley’s Meta Marshall likes — and that’s rated a “strong buy” on TipRanks — is communications hardware manufacturer Plantronics (PLT Get Report), now calling itself “Poly” as it integrates the Polycom business is bought last year. Rated “overweight” in a separate initiation last month, Poly wins points from Morgan Stanley for its “unique” ability to help corporations transition to running their communications over the cloud by providing the equipment needed to do this.

Like Vonage, Poly is a company that seems ugly on the outside, but gets better the closer you look. Trailing-12-month earnings are negative, but at the same time as Poly has been reporting GAAP losses, the stock generated about $65 million in positive free cash flow, and non-GAAP “pro forma” income is also positive.

Marshall is looking for Plantronics to accelerate sales to “cloud exposed businesses,” which make up about 50% of revenue at present, and sees this as a “next 1-2 years” process, during which time Poly may exceed consensus expectations for 12% annualized earnings growth. Already, the analyst says the stock is cheap enough to own “at 6x EV/EBITDA and 5x P/E.” Over the next three years, Marshall sees the stock growing its earnings by a total of 47%.

Priced near $35 a share today, Marshall believes the stock could go as high as $58 a share — 66% upside.

Marshall is certainly not the first analyst with an optimistic outlook for the headset-maker, as TipRanks analytics showcasing Plantronics stock as a Strong Buy. With an average price target of $63, analysts are predicting an upside of nearly 69%. In total, the stock has received 4 ‘buy’ ratings in the last three months. (See PLT’s price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)

Amazon: 32% Upside

Switching gears now to a stock that needs no introduction, Morgan Stanley Brian Nowak steps in to suggest investors take another look at Amazon (AMZNGet Report). The e-commerce giant has seen its stock slide 14% from the $2,020 share price it sported just three months ago. But Nowak expects Amazon to recover those losses, and more. (To watch Nowak’s track record, click here)

Projecting a $2,200 share price within 12 months, Nowak rates Amazon “overweight,” and argues that although the introduction of “1-day” shipping guarantees will squeeze profit margins, it should also drive demand for Amazon’s goods and accelerate revenue growth, which at 20% last quarter was well below the company’s 25% average revenue growth rate for the last five years.

Nowak also makes the case that offering faster shipping will help Amazon to “penetrate new buckets of consumer expenditure,” including in particular consumable products which can spoil if not shipped and delivered quickly. As more of Amazon’s customers buy more short-shelf-life goods from the company, this will in turn enable the company to “garner incremental wallet share.”

Net-net, therefore, Nowak argues that Amazon stock should be a buy in the long-term, despite “volatile” trends as it rolls out its new shipping regimen. The analyst’s $2,200 target price implies that after losing 14% on their stock over the last three months, investors could now gain nearly twice as much — 27% — by keeping the faith and sticking with this strong buy stock.

Wall Street’s confidence on the retail giant speaks for itself; AMZN has received a whopping 30 ‘buy’ ratings in the last three months vs. only one ‘hold’ rating. Meanwhile, the $2,297.24 consensus price target suggests a potential upside of 33% from the current share price. (See AMZN’s price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)

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