Shares of Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) have been a roller coaster in their brief publicly traded tenure, but at least one analyst believes that the next leg of the ride will be a chain lift higher. Drexel Lambert analyst Brian White is initiating coverage of the cloud communications specialist, slapping a buy rating on the stock shortly after the market close yesterday. His price target of $45 suggests a hearty 54% of upside from here.
Arguing that Twilio will "bounce back" in the year ahead may seem inaccurate. The tech darling went public at $15 in late June, and it will have roughly doubled by the end of 2016. However, the stock did peak north of $70 three months ago. It has surrendered most of its gains to find itself south of $30 as of Monday's close.
There's a lot to like in Twilio. Let's go over a few of the reasons why White and other investors are rallying behind Twilio's prospects as a winning investment in the year ahead.
1. Rolodex quality matters
Twilio's client base is growing. Its active account base has increased 45% to 34,457 over the past year. The tech elite rely on Twilio's platform for real-time communications solutions, and that includes Airbnb, WhatsApp, Uber, Hulu, and AWS.
Blue chips, tech unicorns, and even universities are gravitating to Twilio, raving about the migration in the process. Attract customers and investors will follow.
2. Growth matters
Twilio's top line has been slowing, but it's not as scary as you might think. The 88% revenue growth it generated last year made it a hot IPO this summer, but we've now seen five consecutive quarters of sequential year-over-year declines. Most companies would still kill for the 62% growth that Twilio posted in its fiscal third quarter.
The market wasn't pleased with Twilio's outlook during last month's quarterly report, calling for top-line growth to decelerate to a 41% to 45% rate for the current quarter. However, Drexel Lambert's White estimates that Twilio will serve up the fastest revenue growth of any company in his firm's coverage universe this year.
3. The stock may be cheap if you know where to look
Some will argue that Twilio wasn't cheap even at its $15 debut six months ago, and the red ink isn't very flattering. No one sees the next-gen cloud star turning a profit next year, and Wall Street pros are split as to whether it will turn the corner in late 2018 or at some point in 2019.
However, White points out that relative to other high-growth companies that went public in the past it could be a relative bargain. A profitless Twilio fetching an enterprise value of 6.3 times White's estimate of $350 million for next year and 4.9 times his target of $453 million come 2018 may not seem inexpensive, but his analysis of 17 other high-growth debutantes shows that they commanded multiples ranging between nine and 22 at their peaks within their first three years as public companies.
Twilio stock may not seem cheap, but it may never seem cheap. It's all relative when it comes to investing, and for now, it looks as if Twilio is shaping up to move higher in the year ahead.