There's little doubt that an extra $600 per week in unemployed Americans' pockets supports the mostly consumer-driven U.S. economy. Those benefits ended weeks ago, and their congressional or executive replacements are uncertain. Without robust government stimulus, only companies riding strong social trends will continue to see their stocks go up. Here's one you might consider buying right now.
Wall Street is fond of giving the biggest names in tech acronyms like FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) or MAGA (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple). Another potential trillion-dollar company, and the third "A" of "AMAGA," is the amazing business of Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE).
Adobe is well-positioned as a leader of all things digital: Designing stuff, signing stuff, and refining e-commerce stuff. Each of these market opportunities is growing, and Adobe looks particularly well-positioned, with a huge head start on all things creative design, half of the emerging duopoly in digital documents, and a promising beginning with a long road ahead in e-commerce analytics.
Pretty profits without the paperwork
What Adobe calls "creative cloud" -- the "designing stuff" arm of its offerings -- essentially has no rival. According to enlyft.com, which tracks corporate software usage, Adobe rules more than 80% of the graphics and editing software market. In its most recent quarter, this segment, already Adobe's cash cow, accelerated with 17% year-over-year revenue growth.
How'd they do it? Adobe has creative products for everyone. Downloads for mobile applications are surging, and users grabbed 40% more copies of tablet-friendly graphics program Adobe Fresco year over year since the start of 2020. Downloads of Premier Rush, which offers YouTube and TikTok creators video editing tools that work on computers and mobile devices alike, grew 75% just since the previous quarter.
Record traffic to Adobe.com in the quarter speaks to the demand surge, and Adobe converted that traffic into $352 million of future annual recurring revenue.
On a more businesslike front, work from home is here to stay, with companies such as Google and Twitter announcing plans to allow telework through 2021 and beyond. But papers still need to be signed, even when there's no actual office to push them in. Adobe invented the PDF, and it's still improving digital paperwork for customers.
For all the deserved attention DocuSign (NASDAQ:DOCU) has received this year, with its stock almost tripling, Adobe's document cloud revenue came in 21% higher than DocuSign's. Adobe reported that use of digital documents grew 40% quarter over quarter, which helped it grow document revenue 22% year over year.
Adobe has real competition in this space. DocuSign, which is solely focused on documents, grew its revenue 39% year over year, from a not-small base. In fact, for their most recent respective quarters, Adobe posted $360 million in document revenue, while DocuSign came in at $297 million. The pie is growing rapidly for both, but investors should want to see continued revenue growth and innovation to keep Adobe in the top spot.
Are big customers enough?
Adobe's third pillar of growth is its "CXM" (customer experience management) business, more commonly known as customer relationship management, or CRM. This segment offers businesses software that helps them know their customers, analyze behaviors and trends, and recognize issues or anomalies.
Consider this: Facebook has made billions by helping advertisers better understand you and me because its platforms have more than 1 billion active users. By comparison, the Adobe Experience Platform has data on more than 10 billion global customers. That's a lot of insight, and it explains why Adobe's customers here include 3M, Verizon, and new this quarter, IBM, Walgreens, Safeway, and Allianz.
Those big customers are impressive, but Adobe will need small and medium-sized businesses to recover their confidence before this segment can catch up to its creative and document divisions. Long-term investors may need patience here, since this segment only grew 5% year over year. CEO Shantanu Narayen cited "delays" with the largest enterprise customers and "weakness" with small and medium-sized companies.
No stimulus needed
Adobe is in a very strong financial position to weather almost any storm. Although it carries $4 billion in debt, it also has $3 billion in cash on hand, and it's generated around $4.5 billion in free cash flow over the trailing 12 months. Adobe doesn't need a loan or a bailout. It has the products society needs right now and for the future. And the growth in its digital design and documents segments looks strong enough to help offset potential continued weakness and delays in the CXM business.
Investors will get insight into the resiliency of medium-sized and small businesses when Adobe reports earnings again next month. Any improvement among that clutch of customers bodes well for Adobe. Skeptics might point to prolonged economic uncertainty stemming from congressional inaction and the upcoming election.
But truly long-term investors should consider buying now. We may not know exactly what America's economic and political future will entail, but we have good insight into what the future of work and business looks like -- and right now, Adobe seems to have most of that future all but locked up.