Cloud-based identity confirmation software service Okta (NASDAQ:OKTA) 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.
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.
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.