While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a closer look at particularly stock-shaking upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.
What: Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) climbed 1.5% this morning after Jefferies upgraded the software behemoth from hold to buy.
So what: Along with the upgrade, analyst Ross MacMillan boosted his price target to $42 (from $33), representing about 22% worth of upside to yesterday's close. While value investors might be turned off a bit by Microsoft's solid return in 2013, MacMillan believes that there's plenty of room to run given several key developments that are likely to unfold in the not-so-distant future.
Now what: MacMillan thinks that Microsoft is perfectly set up for five positive catalysts over the next 18 months:
- A new operating structure with a better view into its "BestCo" assets,
- More emphasis on its cloud capabilities with Office 365/Azure,
- Possible upside to Windows fueled by Intel's improving competitive position,
- Rising value of its Google Android-related intellectual property, and
- The potential for a new CEO to improve the company's product portfolio and capital allocation decisions.
More important, with the stock still trading at a forward P/E of 12 and boasting a 3%-plus dividend yield, I'd agree that shareholders still have room to profit from those value enhancing events.
Fool contributor Brian Pacampara has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Intel, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.