Over the past year, stock market volatility has been off the charts. We've navigated our way through the fastest bear market dive in history and the quickest snap-back rally to all-time highs. Amid this chaos, one trend has vastly outperformed: cloud computing.
Everything having to do with the cloud, including storage, infrastructure, platform, and software, has flourished. Given that the coronavirus pandemic has completely disrupted the traditional work and shopping environment, businesses and consumers have figured out just how effective they can be in their own offices or on their own couches.
It also hasn't hurt that interest rates are near all-time lows. High-growth cloud stocks have the ability to borrow cheaply in order to hire, innovate, or acquire, should they choose to do so.
While a number of cloud stocks have skyrocketed over the past year, Wall Street still sees value in this high-growth industry. Based on the consensus one-year price targets of Wall Street analysts, the following three cloud stocks all offer at least 22% upside from where they closed this past weekend.
VMware: Implied upside of 27%
According to analysts, digital infrastructure giant VMware (VMW 2.84%) offers up to 27% upside. This upside may well reflect that its share price is down about 10% over the trailing 12-month period, while most other cloud stocks have been off to the races.
The biggest concern for VMware is the company's late shift to hybrid cloud and multicloud solutions. For example, in the third quarter, subscription and software-as-a-service (SaaS) revenue catapulted by 44% from the prior-year period. But through the first nine months of fiscal 2021, this higher-margin subscription and SaaS revenue accounted for just 22% of the company's $8.47 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, licensing revenue declined 6% through the first nine months from the same period in 2020, and services revenue, such as data-center consulting, continues to move higher at a slow but steady pace. VMware's tepid growth in other segments is overshadowing its ongoing transition into the cloud.
Perhaps the most exciting question to be answered for VMware shareholders, as well as those closely watching the company, is what might happen with its largest shareholder, Dell Technologies (DELL 2.47%). Dell owns a whopping 81% stake in VMware, and it's been suggested that spinning off VMware might allow for improved operating transparency and beefier valuations for both companies. Dell CEO Michael Dell doesn't have plans to sell the VMware stake as of now, but all opportunities are on the table for discussion.
Valued at a multiple of less than five times forward-year sales, VMware could be an intriguing buy for patient investors seeking less volatility in the cloud space.
Zoom Video Communications: Implied upside of 23%
Now, if exceptionally high-growth SaaS stocks are more your thing, say hello to the work-from-home hero Zoom Video Communications (ZM 4.22%). Even after more than quadrupling in value in 2020, Zoom should tack on another 23% to the upside over the next year, according to Wall Street.
If you need any convincing as to why Zoom had such a phenomenal year, here's a perfect example. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns in March 2020, Zoom issued full-year guidance for fiscal year 2021 of $905 million to $915 million. During the October-ended quarter, Zoom updated its full-year sales guidance to a range of $2.575 billion to $2.58 billion. The company nearly tripled its full-year sales forecast over three quarters.
What's more, Zoom Video's cloud-based communications platform is resonating with big and small businesses, and well as new and existing customers. My longtime Foolish colleague Rick Munarriz pointed out in December that Zoom's trailing-12-month net dollar expansion rate for companies with at least 10 employees has topped 130% in each of the past 10 quarters. This is a fancy way of saying that existing client spending has jumped by 30% or more in each of the last 10 quarters from the prior-year period.
Based on data gathered from LearnBonds in April 2020, Zoom controlled nearly 43% of the U.S. web conferencing market. Even when the pandemic ends, this shift to video conferencing isn't going away. Growth may slow a bit, but Zoom has cemented itself as the premier enterprise communications platform.
salesforce.com: Implied upside of 22%
A third cloud stock with some serious upside potential is customer relationship management (CRM) software specialist salesforce.com (CRM 7.44%). If Wall Street's prognostication is correct, Salesforce has at least 22% upside over the next year.
CRM software helps consumer-facing businesses better track customer data, service issues, and handle marketing campaigns, all in real time. It can even be a useful tool in helping to suggest add-on sales. It's a logical tool for the retail and service industries to use, but has become increasingly popular with the financial sector, manufacturing, and even healthcare companies. Pretty much any consumer-facing business is a potential opportunity for Salesforce.
Salesforce is the kingpin of global CRM software. Research and advisory firm Gartner estimated Salesforce to have more than an 18% share of the global CRM market at the end of 2019. That's nearly more than the next three competitors combined. Salesforce is the clear go-to for CRM solutions, and that's reflected in its consistent double-digit growth rate.
In early December, Salesforce also announced that it would make its largest acquisition in the company's history and buy Slack Technologies. This $27.7 billion cash-and-stock deal will allow Salesforce to cross-sell its CRM solutions to Slack's rapidly growing pool of enterprise customers.
Of the three cloud stocks Wall Street fancies, Salesforce is the one this Fool feels most confident about.