Admittedly, Wall Street analysts aren’t perfect, or even close. They can be too optimistic, as witnessed by just how rare it is that an analyst will assign a sell rating to a stock. Like the rest of us, they can succumb to a herd mentality. Stepping out of line is discouraged (and offers little incentive). As a result, the Street sometimes seems to move its targets as much due to price action as due to fundamental changes.
But although Wall Street sentiment isn’t gospel, it still has value. Analysts can still move stocks with an upgrade … or a downgrade. Few market participants understand the stocks better, and the industries, they cover. And in extreme cases, analyst expectations can signal value the rest of the market might be missing.
For these 10 stocks, the divergence between the market price and the trading price is extreme: at least 25%. And for all 10 stocks, there’s some logic behind the analyst arguments. These aren’t the 10 stocks with the biggest divergences (many small-cap stocks have average target prices that suggest a double, albeit with limited coverage) and they’re not guaranteed to rise. But, in all ten cases, there’s at least good reason to think that Wall Street might be right.
(Author’s note: average target price data comes from finviz.com. Upside based on closing prices on Monday, June 10, 2019.)
Average Target Price: +27%
That said, analysts generally like the so-called FAANG stocks as a group. The Street sees 26% gains ahead for Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), and 20% upside for Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Average target prices imply that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will rise 14%, and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) 7%.
Still, Facebook is the Street’s best pick in the group, at least at the moment — and that makes sense. For all the noise about the company’s myriad scandals, its users haven’t gone anywhere. Larry Ramer raised caution about the pending Federal Trade Commission investigation, but I respectfully disagree, given Facebook has zero liability under existing antitrust laws. As I wrote last month, there’s still a case for Facebook to reclaim all-time highs, and the average analyst agrees. The target price of $221 is just above July 2018 highs near $219.
To be sure, FB stock likely needs some help from the broader market and the economy to keep driving ad sales. But there is plenty of room from a valuation standpoint for FB to rally, and it likely wouldn’t take much of a catalyst for Wall Street to start pounding the table for the stock again.
Average Target Price: +87%
At the moment, the Street sees Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) nearly doubling, but that may not be the case for long. BIDU shares tumbled after a disappointing Q1 earnings report last month, dropping over 25% before a recent, modest, rally. It’s likely that some analysts haven’t yet updated their price targets, and that some of those targets may come down with BIDU closer to $100 than the current $209 average target price.
It’s also worth noting that analysts are generally much more bullish on Chinese stocks than the market. As noted, analysts see 28% upside in Alibaba stock, over 50% in oil plays PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) and China Petroleum & Chemical (NYSE:SNP), and 60%+ gains for Weibo (NASDAQ:WB). China-focused analysts might be less connected to U.S. investor sentiment and maybe more likely to keep targets elevated to curry favor with company executives less open to dissent than their American counterparts.
Still, even with those caveats, Wall Street clearly sees the fall in BIDU shares as overdone. There are risks here, as I wrote after the Q1 report. But as Barron’s reported, analysts see better days coming in the second half of this year. At less than 15x earnings, BIDU looks cheap, meaning few improvements are actually priced in. If Wall Street is right about performance, Baidu stock has a big move ahead, even if it falls short of current price targets.
Bausch Health (BHC)
Average Target Price: +44%
Investors would be forgiven for having some skepticism toward analyst opinions on Bausch Health (NYSE:BHC). Wall Street was caught notably flat-footed when Bausch, then known as Valeant Pharmaceuticals, saw its share price collapse back in 2015. And it’s worth remembering that Bausch still has nearly $25 billion in debt and a market cap under $8 billion. It doesn’t take much of a tweak to models to notably change the value of BHC stock.
That said, Wall Street no doubt is a bit chastened by its prior analyses of BHC. (“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”) Meanwhile, Bausch posted its best organic growth in three years in the first quarter, and raised full-year guidance in the process.
There are still risks here, and I’ve been cautious toward BHC since the Valeant days. But Bausch has made significant improvement in recent years … yet BHC stock has traded sideways for a good eighteen months. If Wall Street is right this time, the stock should be due for a rally.
Average Target Price: +37%
Shares of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) soared after its April settlement with Apple, and analysts jumped on board quickly as well. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), for instance, raised QCOM stock to a Buy rating and hiked its target all the way from $55 to $95. Three other analysts immediately upgraded the stock.
Morgan Stanley, in fact, very nearly got it exactly right. QCOM went from $57 before the announcement to $90 by early May. Since then, however, the stock has come in. As Dana Blankenhorn noted, fiscal Q2 results in early May seemed underwhelming given the optimism toward the stock. Generally negative sentiment toward chip stocks hasn’t helped, either. QCOM went back to $65 before climbing in recent sessions to $70.
But so far at least, analysts haven’t budged off their optimism. They still see QCOM rising to $96. As James Brumley detailed recently, there’s a strong case that Qualcomm stock can get there. 5G optimism (and potentially U.S. government support) and the company’s significant intellectual property holdings underpin that bull case.
Of late, it looks like investors see the sell-off as overdone, but that won’t be enough. The market will need to agree with analysts that the Apple deal was as transformative long-term as Wall Street seemed, and still seems, to believe. If that comes to pass, QCOM should return to those April highs.
International Game Technology (IGT)
Average Target Price: +64%
I’ve long thought gaming analysts were one of the better groups on the Street, and one of their top picks is integrated gaming supplier International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT). Given that I personally own IGT shares, I’m inclined to agree.
There are some risks here that have hit IGT shares lately. Notably, the company still has extensive exposure to Italy, where it runs both lottery and gaming options, and there are increasing fears that country could leave the E.U. or find further ways to squeeze out more money to fund its ongoing deficits. Debt is still significant. Q1 results were somewhat mixed, keeping intact IGT’s reputation for inconsistent performance. And outside of Italy, IGT still is dependent on economically sensitive casinos at a time when global macro worries clearly are mounting.
Meanwhile, sector analysts look relatively optimistic across the board. Fellow integrated supplier Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS) would need to rise roughly 50% to hit Wall Street’s average target. Analysts see big upside in U.S. names like Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN). Even Macau-focused names like Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), whose bulls have sometimes criticized the Street for being overly cautious toward that volatile market, generally see outperform and buy ratings.
All that said, IGT still looks intriguing here. It’s cheaper than other suppliers. Its long-struggling slot business in the U.S. is showing signs of life. The Italian business is locked in through the middle of the next decade. Upfront payments required to secure the contract are done, meaning the company should drive impressive free cash flow in the coming years. A 6%+ dividend yield helps the case as well.
Given the amount of debt used in the industry, and just how quickly fortunes can turn in a recession, gaming analysts usually are well aware of risk. In the case of IGT, they know the risks but still see upside, something investors should keep in mind.
Average Target Price: +28%
The upside that Wall Street sees in software data play Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK) isn’t that impressive on its face; 28% returns are nothing to sneeze at, of course. But many SaaS (software-as-a-service) stocks have done better in recent years, and there is no shortage of stocks that analysts seem to like better than SPLK.
But what’s interesting about SPLK is that its trading relative to the Street has been much different than that of many other dearly valued, high-growth software plays. Workday (NYSE:WDAY), Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) and Paycom Software (NYSE:PAYC) all trade above Wall Street targets. This has been a category where analysts usually have been playing catch-up, trying to match targets to steadily increasing valuations.
Yet SPLK largely has been left out of late: the stock is up just 3.4% over the past year. And that might set up an interesting opportunity, either as a trade or an investment. Splunk stock isn’t cheap, but its growth remains impressive. It’s coming off a nice first-quarter beat that still wasn’t quite enough to impress investors.
Investors have looked to SaaS stocks as a way to buy growth at almost any price. But with valuation concerns now rising for stocks like SHOP and ZM, SPLK may be seen as a way to get exposure to big growth at a relative discount. Certainly, more than a few analysts see it that way. If other plays in the sector keep rising, and that sentiment finds its way back to Splunk stock, analysts might again have to play catch-up with SPLK.
Diamondback Energy (FANG)
Average Target Price: +58%
To be sure, investors in oil and gas stocks like Diamondback Energy (NASDAQ:FANG) need to take analyst targets with a grain of salt. There are literally dozens of O&G plays where analysts see huge upside.
Here, too, analysts may be a bit late in updating models, particularly after the recent pullback in crude oil prices. But this is a space where, for small- and mid-cap stocks in particular, analyst targets can suggest 100%+ upside. (At the moment, that’s true for Encana (NYSE:ECA), Bonanza Creek (NYSE:BCEI), and Callon Petroleum (NYSE:CPE), to name just three.)
Still, as far as larger producers go, Diamondback and Concho Resources (NYSE:CXO) look to be the top picks. And that sentiment improved just a few weeks ago amid the bidding war for Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) between Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY).
Falling crude prices have dimmed enthusiasm somewhat, but as I wrote last week, there’s still a strong case that Diamondback could be a takeover target for one of the major oil players. Results have been strong lately, with a cheap valuation (8x forward earnings) supporting the case for FANG on its own. Oil analysts might look a little too optimistic toward the industry as a whole, but I think they’ve got it right when it comes to FANG.
Average Target Price: +33%
While I’m not quite that pessimistic toward Tesla, I continue to agree more broadly with those analysts. I still think, as I wrote last week, that Tesla stock is sharply overvalued. Execution and strategy have been subpar under CEO Elon Musk, who clearly has lost the trust of more than a few investors.
But for both bulls and bears, it’s important to remember that Wall Street on the whole still has a bullish take on TSLA stock. The average target price sits at $283, even with a few headline-grabbing reductions in recent weeks. Only seven of 23 analysts rate TSLA a sell or an underperform.
Whether Street support is good news for TSLA stock is up for debate. The fact that many analysts see upside in the stock raises the risk of another earnings miss with the second-quarter report, likely coming in late July. More downgrades and target price cuts could restart the pressure on the TSLA stock price.
But the fact that analysts — nearly all of whom have extensive experience in the auto industry — still back the stock might be proof that the story isn’t as simple as bears make it out to be. There’s still a bull case for Tesla stock, which means, as we’ve seen in recent sessions, that there are still potential buyers out there.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
Average Target Price: +41%
But I wrote at the time that the headline numbers hid potential risks and those risks have come to pass. Q4 guidance along with earnings at the end of last month disappointed. Valuation had become stretched, and has come in. PANW stock has dropped some 24% from those highs.
And with the pullback, PANW does look more intriguing. It’s still one of the more attractive plays on what should be a growing cybersecurity space. It trades below 30x FY20 earnings-per-share consensus backing out its net cash. Luke Lango called PANW a “steal” below $200, and analysts appear to agree. The average price target suggests strong upside, even if some analysts may be looking to update their models following third-quarter numbers.
To be sure, there are still some modest concerns about the space on the whole. But PANW looks like it’s putting in a bottom, and a modest change in sentiment could lead to a nice rebound from current levels.
Average Target Price: +41%
At the end of May, shares of Allergan (NYSE:AGN) touched their lowest levels in almost six years. And there are worries here, and risks of further decline. Cash cow Botox faces potential competition from Revance Therapeutics (NASDAQ:RVNC). The 2017 acquisition of Zeltiq Aesthetics has turned out to be a significant miss, as revenue from that company’s CoolSculpting has stalled out. Meanwhile, broader questions about the company’s pipeline persist.
But Wall Street, at least, sees the selloff as overdone. The lowest of 19 price targets for AGN still suggest double-digit total returns, including the company’s 2.3% dividend yield. And analysts might be right here. AGN stock is awfully cheap, at less than 8x 2019 EPS estimates. Debt is worth noting, but still manageable. The company’s Vraylar just won Food and Drug Administration approval to treat bipolar depression.
The concerns here are real, to be sure. But AGN still has a diversified portfolio, it still has potential in aesthetics and now it looks awfully cheap. Wall Street knows the problems facing the company as well as anyone, yet they’re still on Allergan’s side. Perhaps investors should be as well, particularly near the lows.
As of this writing, Vince Martin is long shares of International Game Technology, and has a bearish hedged options position in Tesla.