Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) shares continue to fall almost 4% today, racking up now about one third of value down the drain with yesterday’s nearly 15% crash, as investor sentiment has largely deflated following a colossal public data breach scandal.
How bad of a breach? It is the kind of catastrophe that could leave roughly 143 million people domestically liable, as crucial private information from names to addresses to birthdays to SSNs are now in the hands of hackers ready to do their worst.
Considering Equifax is one of the leading big consumer-credit reporting companies in the U.S., apprehension extends beyond just this data breach alone, as the government may be forced to come down more intensely when it comes to regulation. Even those on Wall Street wager the hot water EFX shares are now facing can be appreciated as an opportunity to buy understand that in the near-term, it is not an easy time to be an investor in the company.
J.P. Morgan analyst Andrew Steinerman may still be standing in the consumer-credit reporting company’s corner, even in the light of post-breach day, but he pinpoints fresh worry could spring up for the time being.
In reaction, the analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on EFX stock while slicing the price target from $167 to $135, which represents a 41% increase from where the stock is currently trading. (To watch Steinerman’s track record, click here)
Steinerman explains, “The credit bureaus have maintained an orderly relationship with regulators, but the EFX breach presents the risk that oversight could now intensify. Congress has since requested hearings, and some members have sent requests for information from Equifax including […] recent executive stock sales. While it is too early to tell what might transpire, we could foresee new standards of cybersecurity set, possible fines, and a potential mandate that the provision of free TrustedID be extended past twelve months. We also recognize that the breach could open up new or lingering areas of concern around the rate of consumer dispute resolution as well as marketing practices of D2C paid products. We believe that Equifax will respond by highlighting the public good that consumer credit reports serve in facilitating fair lending practices and the low cost to lenders these reports reflect.”
However, looking ahead, “Regardless of the near term impact Equifax sees from this breach, our conviction in the company’s long-term outlook remains strong,” concludes the analyst, not retreating from his bull case just yet.
Wall Street’s conviction lines up as bullish on this TipRanks analytics indicate EFX as a Strong Buy. Based on 8 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 7 rate a Buy on Equifax stock while 1 maintains a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $140.88, marking a 49% upside from where the stock is currently trading.