What happened

Shares of creativity software leader Adobe (ADBE 1.19%) were down by 7.6% as of 12:30 p.m. ET Tuesday. The culprit may have been JPMorgan Chase (JPM 2.49%) stock analyst Sterling Auty, who downgraded the stock to neutral and put a $680 one-year price target on it. Adobe and some of its software peers were hit by the prognosticator's view that there will be limited upside for them in 2022.  

For the record, though, after Tuesday morning's slide, a $680 price target still implies some 12% upside from where Adobe is now trading. 

Two people working on a clothing line on a laptop and tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors should always take individual predictions about stocks' near-term price movements with a grain of salt. Adobe will report its fiscal 2021 fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes on Thursday. During its fiscal Q3, which ended Sept. 3, revenue rose 22% year over year to $3.94 billion, and management predicted the Q4 pace of growth would also be in the low 20% range.

Because Adobe is a mature software firm, its profitability tends to grow at an even faster rate than its revenue does (since each incremental software sale adds little in the way of new expenses, when excluding the company's spending on expansion initiatives). For example, adjusted earnings per share rose 28% in fiscal Q3. Based on management's guidance for fiscal Q4, adjusted earnings per share will only rise by about 13% year over year. But even if Adobe doesn't beat its own outlook, its full-year adjusted earnings would still be up by a very healthy mid-20% amount.

Now what

Since it's the end of its fiscal year, Adobe's management will also provide its initial guidance for its fiscal 2022 on its earnings call. The company will be lapping a strong 2021, but this long-term shareholder is optimistic. With digital creators beginning to build next-gen experiences for the web, streaming video services, and the workplace, demand for creativity software isn't going to abate any time soon.  

This bodes well for Adobe's continued success. The cloud-computing company has built itself into a hub for digital transformation, helping its users unlock new efficiencies and update their digital toolsets. Trillions of additional dollars will be spent on digital transformation in the coming decade, and capturing even a small fraction of that will deliver big gains for Adobe. 2022 may or may not be great for Adobe stock, but investors should stay focused on this company's potential over periods of many years -- not just one.