It’s no secret that the markets had a great year in 2019. The S&P 500 rose 29% by year’s end, and the NASDAQ, with its heavy emphasis on tech stocks, performed even better, growing 35% for the year. In a curious demonstration of uneven gains, just two companies – Apple and Microsoft – accounted for 15% of the S&P’s total annual gains.
Are the good times over, though? The markets appear to be slowing so far this year, and analysts are predicting only a 3% to 5% gain by the end of 2020. Headwinds are forming, as the coronavirus outbreak impinges on trade and travel patterns in Asia as well as a growing list of other regions. The impact has been particularly felt in the tech sector, where companies generally have more exposure to China.
But this doesn’t mean that investors should steer clear of tech. There are still plenty of Buy-rated choices available – if you’re willing to look a little deeper. We’ve used the Stock Screener tool from TipRanks to pull up three such stocks, small-cap companies with upside potential in excess of 20%. Here are the results.
Allot, Ltd. (ALLT)
We’ll start with Allot, a cloud computing company focused on network intelligence and security solutions. The company’s products include security as a service (SECaaS), DOS protection, and network intelligence and traffic management. Allot is a fast-growing company in the cloud software niche, as shown by the recently reported Q4 2019 results.
The company reported Q4 revenue grew 14% year-over-year to reach $30.6 million, with annual revenues of $110.1 million reflecting a 15% increase. Like many small-cap tech companies, Allot reported a net loss per share in the quarter, of 5 cents. This didn’t scare off investors as the stock is up 41% so far this year.
Looking ahead, Allot is confident in its ability to drive continued growth. Management reported a bookings backlog worth $138 million – a sign that customer interest remains strong. Projecting the backlog will lend itself to future sales, the company guides for 2020 revenue in the range of $135 million to $140 million.
Covering this stock for Needham, 5-star analyst Alex Henderson has given ALLT a Buy rating and a rare double price target increase this month. He initially raised his target from $9.50 to $11.50, but has since lifted it to $15. In total, that’s a 58% increase in his outlook for the stock, and suggests a 26% upside potential. (To watch Henderson’s track record, click here)
Supporting his stance, Henderson says, “We… forecast accelerating revenue growth in 2020, and believe that it needs to sustain its pace of subscription wins after the stock nearly doubled over the past 18 months. Allot Communications should succeed given its robust pipeline of leads and the adoption intent of its customers regarding its Security subscription businesses.”
As a smaller tech company, with a market cap of $410.5 million, ALLT shares have escaped intense scrutiny from Wall Street’s analysts. The review by Henderson is currently the only one in the TipRanks database – but it does indicate a clear path forward for the stock. (See Allot stock analysis on TipRanks)
Akoustis Technologies, Inc. (AKTS)
Next on today’s list is Akoustis, a provider of the crystal-based piezoelectric components of bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters commonly used in mobile wireless devices, including smartphones. It’s a specialty niche, but a profitable one, and AKTS saw share gains of 61% in 2019.
Following up on its fiscal Q1 moves, Akoustis realized over $32 million in net cash from a common stock issuance. The success of the stock sale gives the company a healthy balance sheet moving forward, important as total revenues, while in line with guidance, were flat sequentially. The net loss per share in the quarter was 21 cents, which was less severe than the 24 cents expected. AKTS shares are up 12% since the earnings release.
Sujeeva De Silva, 5-star analyst with Roth Capital, is bullish on AKTS. He writes, “[We are] encouraged by initial volume orders from infrastructure customers, and expect infrastructure customer ramp to commence in the June quarter with WiFi customer ramps starting in the September quarter. The company’s revenue guidance reflects expectation for volume filter revenue ramp in the mid-to-late CY20 timeframe…”
In line with his optimistic outlook, De Silva puts a Buy rating on the stock, along with a $10 price target. His target suggests a 25% upside potential. (To watch De Silva’s track record, click here)
AKTS shares have 5 recent reviews, breaking down as 4 Buys and 1 Hold, giving the stock a Strong Buy consensus rating. The average price target, $10, matches De Silva’s, indicating that the stock has room for 25% growth in the near future. (See Akoustis price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)
nLight, Inc. (LASR)
Our final stock is an interesting player in the industrial laser industry. nLight produces lasers for high-tech manufacturing industries. Its products include fiber-optic lasers, diode systems, single emitters, and diode laser stacks. The company has a world-wide sales base, with customers in the semiconductor, materials processing, electronics, medical, and military sectors.
LASR shares are down since last week, when the company reported a fourth quarter earnings loss and revenue beat. At the bottom line, the EPS net loss was 6 cents. On the top line, however, revenues beat the forecast by 12% and came in at $42.9 million. On the downside, the revenue number was a slip of 7.1% year-over-year. LASR shares are down 12% so far in 2020.
Reviewing the stock for Stifel Nicolaus, 4-star analyst John Marchetti writes, “[We] expect the company to return to double-digit revenue growth following a challenging 2019. [I]ndustry fundamentals and new product introductions provide a more constructive outlook. We believe nLight’s focus on higher-powered lasers, programmability, and new market applications should provide a strong base to return to growth…”
Marchetti gives the stock a Buy recommendation, and raised his price target from $21 to $26, implying an upside potential here of 45%. (To watch Marchetti’s track record, click here)
nLight has received 4 Buy ratings and 1 Hold, giving the stock a Strong Buy consensus view. The average price target, $24.75, indicates room for a robust 38% premium from the current share price of $17.89. (See nLight stock-price forecast on TipRanks)
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