Morgan Stanley Bets on These 3 Stocks; Sees Over 40% Upside
Did the stock market’s epic rally just need a little breather? The last few weeks have seen stocks experience their first meaningful correction since the bull market kicked off in March. Now, the question swirling around the Street is, will the rally pick back up again, or is more downside on the way?According to Morgan Stanley’s chief U.S. equity strategist Mike Wilson, uncertainty regarding the presidential election and stalemate on the next stimulus package could lead to declines in September and October. “On the correction, there’s still downside as markets digest the risk of congressional gridlock on the next fiscal deal. While we think something will ultimately get done, it will likely take another few weeks to get it over the goal line,” he noted.However, Wilson argues the recent volatility in no way signals the end of the current bull market. “We think this correction is just that, a correction in a new bull market. It’s normal for markets to pullback after such an incredible run like we’ve experienced since March. Furthermore, when a new bull market coincides with a new economic cycle, the bull market usually runs for years, not months,” the strategist explained.Taking Wilson’s outlook to heart, our focus shifted to three stocks getting a thumbs up from Morgan Stanley. As the firm’s analysts see over 50% upside potential in store for each, we used TipRanks’ database to get the full scoop.Akero Therapeutics (AKRO)With its innovative medicines designed to restore metabolic balance and halt the progression of NASH, a severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Akero Therapeutics wants to address the unmet medical needs of patients from all over the world. Based on the strength of its lead candidate, Morgan Stanley is pounding the table.Representing the firm, 5-star analyst Matthew Harrison tells clients that AKRO’s treatment for NASH, efruxifermin (EFX), has a “best-in-class profile.” EFX is the company’s lead asset and was designed to mimic the biological activity of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), which regulates multiple metabolic pathways and cellular processes, to reduce liver fat and inflammation, reverse fibrosis, increase insulin sensitivity and improve lipoproteins.According to Harrison, NASH is a complex disease, with patients usually having multiple co-morbidities like obesity, type-2 diabetes, increased triglycerides, increased LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. “A promising therapeutic solution would not only treat the multiple components of NASH but would also have an acceptable side effect profile given the potential co-morbidities,” the analyst explained.That’s where AKRO’s therapy comes in. “In June, Akero presented best-in-class data from its Phase 2a study. This data indicates that EFX improved the two liver histological endpoints recommended by the FDA along with resulting in weight loss, improving cardiovascular health (increasing good HDL cholesterol, decreasing triglycerides, not raising bad LDL cholesterol), and improving factors related to controlling blood glucose levels. This benefit/risk profile beats the competition,” Harrison stated.Looking at the indication as a whole, Harrison views NASH as a very large opportunity given that roughly 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from the condition.The analyst, however, acknowledges there are commercial hurdles. One of these is the fact that “NASH is currently undiagnosed in all but a very small percentage of the prevalent pool since diagnosis currently requires an invasive liver biopsy.” Therefore, along with demonstrating a positive benefit/risk profile, AKRO will need to find patients and secure payer support should the candidate receive FDA approval, in Harrison’s opinion.That said, Harrison believes AKRO is up for the task. “We believe that given EFX’s clean safety profile and broad-based effects, Akero will likely largely overcome these commercial hurdles,” he commented.Harrison added, “Importantly, since Akero’s treatment is injectable, we only assume the drug will penetrate into the population of the most sick patients where there are currently at least 400,000 patients diagnosed and seeking treatment in the U.S.” To this end, he assigns a 60% probability of success, and estimates unadjusted peak sales for the U.S. and the EU will land at $4.5 billion.Based on all of the above, Harrison rates AKRO an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a $70 price target. Should his thesis play out, a potential twelve-month gain of 93% could be in the cards. (To watch Harrison’s track record, click here)Are other analysts in agreement? They are. Only Buy ratings, 6, in fact, have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, the message is clear: AKRO is a Strong Buy. Given the $58.50 average price target, shares could rise 61% in the next year. (See AKRO stock analysis on TipRanks)TransDigm Group (TDG)Next up we have TransDigm Group, which is one of the top producers, designers and suppliers of highly engineered aerospace components, systems and subsystems. Its products are used on nearly all commercial and military aircrafts in service today. Given its ability to weather the COVID-19 storm, Morgan Stanley sees a bright future ahead.Morgan Stanley analyst Kristine Liwag stated, “We view TransDigm as the most defensible business model in commercial aerospace.” However, this is not to say the company hasn’t been confronted with serious challenges.Over the past few years, management has had to grapple with how to price its defense business, the sustainability of its pricing strategy in aerospace, the durability of its levered balance sheet and the ability to weather a downturn. That said, Liwag remains optimistic going forward. “TDG has overcome short thesis after short thesis in the past few years and we do not expect these concerns to repeat,” she noted.According to Liwag, TDG’s “ability to hold on to margins during a global pandemic” conveys its operating strength. To this end, her estimate for EBITDA margins is well above the rest of the Street’s. The analyst also points out that the company cut its SG&A expense by $89 million year-over-year in fiscal Q3 2020. “We assume the company will retain at least half of those savings, with the remainder returning in the form of variable selling expenses,” she said.Liwag added, “We are positive on TransDigm, particularly as recovery in global air traffic would be favorable for TransDigm’s core profit maker, the aftermarket. Additionally, we view it positively that TDG has the means to acquire weaker players.”Back in April, management raised $1.5 billion of additional debt to trim liquidity risks and provide an extra cushion. “A large debt load is part of management’s strategy to provide private equity like return for its shareholders. Historically, the company has used debt to acquire businesses with similar attributes to TDG’s portfolio of 90% proprietary products and 75% sole sourced. If passenger air traffic continues to normalize, we would expect TDG to use its incremental capital to acquire struggling businesses that fit its strategy,” Liwag commented.All of this prompted Liwag to leave her bullish call and $772 price target unchanged. This target conveys her confidence in TDG’s ability to climb 48% higher in the next year. (To watch Liwag’s track record, click here)Looking at the consensus breakdown, 7 Buys and 5 Holds have been published in the last three months. Therefore, TDG gets a Moderate Buy consensus rating. Based on the $500.58 average price target, shares are poised to stay range-bound for now. (See TDG stock analysis on TipRanks)Cemex SAB (CX)Cemex counts itself as one of the leading players in the building materials industry, with the company manufacturing and distributing cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates. As its risk/reward profile has just gotten more positive, now could be the time to snap up shares, so says Morgan Stanley.Covering the stock for Morgan Stanley, analyst Nikolaj Lippmann believes that CX’s bullish guidance for the third quarter and FY20, which was significantly ahead of consensus, was “the catalyst that builds a bridge to a favorable risk-reward shift.” On top of this, the stock is trading at 6.4 2020e EV/EBITDA, which is cheap compared to its historical performance and its peers, according to the analyst.That being said, Lippmann argues “CX is mainly a good, strong deleveraging story with a call option on what could be an exceptional U.S. cement market if the U.S. Congress approves an infrastructure package in 2021… If we get a U.S. infrastructure package beyond 2020, it would add icing to the cake, we think, and take the market from good to possibly great.”Although a large multi-year package is dependent upon the outcomes of the U.S. presidential and congressional elections, even in the base case, Lippmann expects cement to show pricing power in the U.S.It should be noted that Lippmann thinks it’s possible the next year will be relatively uneventful, but in that case, he expects the industry to pause at 90% capacity utilization and grow from there. On top of this, pricing in Mexico has been holding up. This “limits the downside risk materially and helps skew the risk-reward positively,” in Lippmann’s opinion.What else is working in CX’s favor? The cement demand year-to-date has pleasantly surprised Lippmann, with upside seen during the first stage of the pandemic. He points to DIY and Department of Transportation maintenance work during periods of low traffic, and strong residential construction as the drivers of this demand.Everything that CX has going for it convinced Lippmann to rate the stock an Overweight (i.e. Buy). Along with the call, he attached a $6 price target, suggesting 50% upside potential. (To watch Lippmann’s track record, click here)Turning to the rest of the analyst community, opinions are split almost evenly. 6 Buys and 5 Holds add up to a Moderate Buy consensus rating. At $4.16, the average price target implies 4% upside potential. (See Cemex stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
Morgan Stanley Lifts Facebook’s PT On New Features
Morgan Stanley raised Facebook’s (FB) price target to $295 (16.8% upside potential) from $285 citing strong user engagement of new features like Reels, Instagram Shopping and Facebook Marketplace. The analyst reiterated his Buy rating on the stock.
In the latest AlphaWise survey conducted by Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak, 34% of Americans use Facebook’s Instagram Reels, while 28% use Instagram Shopping on a monthly basis. The survey also revealed that 15% of participants use Facebook Marketplace daily and 56% use it monthly.
He said “We show how these products could add ~$3bn (~4%) to our ’21 growth forecasts from US monetization alone, giving us higher confidence in our ~23% ’21 revenue growth, which may prove conservative given these products’ potential. At the very least, this speaks to how FB’s multi-year revenue runway remains long.”
Recently, during the Facebook Connect event on Sept. 16, the social media company unveiled the next generation of the Oculus Quest Virtual Reality (VR) headset and new smart glasses in collaboration with Ray-Ban. The company also announced several longer-term projects using VR/ AR (Augmented Reality) technology. (See FB stock analysis on TipRanks).
Currently, the Street has a bullish outlook on the stock. The Strong Buy analyst consensus is based on 31 Buys, 4 Holds, and 1 Sell. The average analyst price target of $294.63 implies upside potential of 16.7% to current levels, with shares gaining 23% year-to-date.
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Boss lures maids to home, chains 1 to bed; other dies trying to escape, TX cops say
After two maids were lured to their boss’ home Saturday, one died trying to escape and the other was found chained to a bed, Texas police say.
Both women worked as house cleaners at 59-year-old Jose Soriano’s Liberty County residence, KPRC reported. Police said Soriano told one of the women that he had revealing photos of her and that he would only delete them if she met him at his home, according to the outlet.
The two women went to Soriano’s home, but when they arrived, police said he sexually assaulted one of them and chained her by the ankle to the bed with a rope tied around her neck, KTRK reported.
The other woman — of whom Soriano claimed to have photos — tried to escape, but crashed her car while backing out of the driveway and it burst into flames, according to KHOU. When Soriano ran out of the house, he left his phone behind and the woman chained to the bed used it to call for help around 6:15 p.m., police said.
Police arrived and discovered the woman in the car was dead and badly burned, according to KHOU.
Her name has not been released, KPRC reported. The other woman was found still chained to the bed and taken to an area hospital for observation, according to the outlet.
Police said Soriano escaped the home in a gray Ford pickup, KTRK reported. He has not been located. Anyone with information on is whereabouts is asked to contact Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at 936-336-4500.
Liberty County is just northeast of Houston.
Has Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM) Got What It Takes To Become A Multi-Bagger?
If you’re not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should keep an eye out for. In a perfect world, we’d like to see a company investing more capital into its business and ideally the returns earned from that capital are also increasing. This shows us that it’s a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. Having said that, from a first glance at Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM) we aren’t jumping out of our chairs at how returns are trending, but let’s have a deeper look.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
Just to clarify if you’re unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. The formula for this calculation on Akamai Technologies is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)
0.098 = US$643m ÷ (US$7.2b – US$657m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).
Thus, Akamai Technologies has an ROCE of 9.8%. On its own that’s a low return on capital but it’s in line with the industry’s average returns of 10%.
View our latest analysis for Akamai Technologies
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Akamai Technologies compares to its prior returns on capital, but there’s only so much you can tell from the past. If you’d like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Akamai Technologies.
What Can We Tell From Akamai Technologies’ ROCE Trend?
In terms of Akamai Technologies’ historical ROCE movements, the trend isn’t fantastic. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 9.8% from 13% five years ago. On the other hand, the company has been employing more capital without a corresponding improvement in sales in the last year, which could suggest these investments are longer term plays. It’s worth keeping an eye on the company’s earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.
The Bottom Line
Bringing it all together, while we’re somewhat encouraged by Akamai Technologies’ reinvestment in its own business, we’re aware that returns are shrinking. Since the stock has gained an impressive 55% over the last five years, investors must think there’s better things to come. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn’t get our hopes up too high.
If you’d like to know about the risks facing Akamai Technologies, we’ve discovered 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.
While Akamai Technologies isn’t earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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