At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." While the pinstripe-and-wingtip crowd is entitled to its opinions, we've got some pretty sharp stock pickers down here on Main Street, too. (And we're not always impressed with how Wall Street does its job.)
Given that, perhaps we shouldn't be giving virtual ink to "news" of analyst upgrades and downgrades. And we wouldn't -- if that were all we were doing. Fortunately, in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we track the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.
Auriga! Auriga! Buy Marvell!
You wouldn't know it from the stock's lackluster performance today, but Marvell Technology
But on the bright side, Auriga sees Marvell making inroads into the Chinese cellphone market by slipping chips into the handsets at China Mobile
So what's wrong with that?
Nothing, if you ask me. In fact, I'd even go farther than Auriga. I'd mention that the 12 times P/E ratio at Marvell actually understates the stock's cheapness. Fact is, if you take a look at the company's cash flow statement, you'll see that Marvell is generating about 20% more free cash flow than it reports as net income. That's enough cash to drive the stock's valuation all the way down to a P/FCF ratio of 9.5 -- and gives Marvell an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio of just 7.3.
Seems to me, if there's any reason investors aren't buying the upgrade today, it has less to do with Marvell itself, and more to do with the analyst doing the recommending. You see, when it comes to picking semiconductor stocks, Auriga is a bit of an underperformer.
Actually … that's putting it too nicely. According to our CAPS stats, this analyst is positively stale on chips. Over the two years we've been tracking its picks, fully 63% of Auriga's chip-stock recommendations have underperformed the market. So if you're wondering why, at this point, investors are treating Auriga's chips like an Atkin's dieter treats Doritos -- there's your answer right there.
And yet …
And that's a crying shame. Maybe I'm just a Fool-rushing-in here, but I just can't help but think that this time, Auriga is finally calling one right. I mean, leave aside the obvious undervaluation on this 7.3 EV/FCF stock if it achieves consensus rates of growth. Auriga isn't even taking that as a given. Instead, the analyst makes the conservative assumption that Marvell will grow only 8% to 10% per year over the next five years -- as little as half the consensus pace.
If the worst-case scenario here is that we've got a worst-case analyst saying Auriga's undervalued at 8% growth, that's still good enough for me. Marvell's valuation is just that marvelous.
Can Marvell Technologies break the Auriga jinx and prove itself a winner? Don't guess. Add both to your Watchlist and find out.