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Why Okta Stock Dropped 12% This Morning

By Rich Smith - Updated Apr 10, 2019 at 7:20PM

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SunTrust makes bull and bear arguments for Okta, but ultimately downgrades.

What happened

Cloud-based identity confirmation software service Okta ( OKTA 11.66% ) saw its stock rocked more than 12% in early Monday trading, before closing the day down "only" 8%.

Part of the reason may have been that investors got a case of nerves ahead of Okta's Q4 earnings report, which is due out on Thursday. But Wall Street compounded matters when, this morning, analysts at SunTrust announced they were downgrading Okta stock to "hold" ahead of that earnings report.

Check out the latest earnings call transcript for Okta.

Bull standing on blocks as bear knocks them down

SunTrust makes bull and bear arguments for Okta, but ultimately downgrades. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Okta shares have more than doubled over the past year -- up 122%, in fact, even including today's pullback. SunTrust cited  the risk of losing some of these "big gains" as reason for caution ahead of earnings and warned that after rising so much, the risk-reward ratio from buying at today's prices is less favorable that it was back when Okta cost merely half as much.

Now what

Of course, one downgrade from one analyst doesn't mean Okta's run is done. Indeed, even as it downgraded the shares, SunTrust raised its price target on Okta stock to $90 -- which is 13% more than the stock costs today. And in a note covered by TheFly.com, SunTrust predicted Okta would "maintain impressive momentum" going forward, growing both revenue and billings at rates in excess of 40% -- twice the 20% long-term earnings growth rate that most analysts predict for the stock.

If that's the argument that persuaded investors to sell the stock, I wonder what SunTrust would have had to say to convince people to buy it.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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