The US stock market is poised to end the week on a positive note, fueling optimism as the long holiday weekend approaches. This positive sentiment stems from the news that the White House and congressional Republicans are nearing the final stages of reaching an agreement to raise the government’s debt ceiling, which currently stands at $31.4 trillion.
A successful debt ceiling bill would lay to rest fears that the US could default on debt obligations and avoid the risks such an event would bring with it. In the meantime, investors still have to deal with a confused market environment: stubborn inflation, high interest rates, a tight labor market, and increased fears of recession.
So how do you find the next hot stock to buy in this environment? One way might be to screen for stocks that have been endorsed by analysts at major investment banks in particular, such as Wall Street banking giant Wells Fargo.
The firm’s stock analysts are showing their upbeat outlook by selecting the stocks they see as winners for the coming year – winners with solid upside of up to 70%. Using the TipRanks database, we have looked up two of these Wells Fargo picks to see what makes them stand out.
Stagwell, Inc. (STGW)
The first stock Wells Fargo is betting on is Stagwell, a company founded by the well-known marketing bigwig Mark Penn. Stagwell’s marketing strategies focus on bringing human creativity and data analytics together to offer a more complete understanding of today’s digital world. The company backs its strategy with teamwork and talent, providing exceptional service to its clients.
Penn originally founded Stagwell in 2015, and in 2021, the company entered its current incarnation through the completion of a merger with MDC Partners. Today, Stagwell works to transform marketing through a digital-first approach. The firm operates through a network of 70 agencies in over 34 countries and serves more than 4,000 business clients worldwide.
The measure of Stagwell’s success can be seen in its total revenues. In 2022, the firm’s first full year of ops since the MDC merger, the top line came to $1.995 billion, and revenues increased through the second half of the year. The first quarter of this year, however, brought a different result.
In 1Q23, Stagwell saw both revenues and earnings fall. The quarterly revenue figure, of $622 million, was down 3.3% year-over-year and came in more than $24 million below forecasts. At the bottom line, the company reported a non-GAAP earnings figure of 13 cents per share; this missed the expectations by 7 cents.
On the positive side, Stagwell reported $53 million in ‘new net business wins’ for the quarter, and $212 million for the trailing 12 month period. The company finished 1Q23 with $138.5 million in cash on hand.
During Q1, Stagwell announced a share repurchase program, a move to both return capital to shareholders and increase the value of the stock by reducing the number of outstanding shares. The program will total 23.3 million shares; during 1Q23, the first 2.6 million were bought back for a total of $18 million.
All of this has caught the attention of Well Fargo analyst Steven Cahall, who writes of Stagwell: “STGW is carving out a name for itself as the digital-first agency network with a foundation in Digital Transformation. We est. a 3-year organic growth stack (’21+’22+’23E) of +41%, or nearly 2x the bigger Agency holdcos. STGW also has political Advocacy, and we think 2024 political spending should be in the $10-$11bn range vs $9bn in ’20. On the cost/margin side, STGW is early in developing AI tools, focused on cost reduction ($35mm cost out for ’23-’24) and the Stagwell Marketing Cloud offers high margin SaaS revenue.
“We see the catalyst to a higher stock price as executing on strong organic growth, reducing leverage and continuing to deploy capital to M&A and share repurchases,” the analyst summed up….
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