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Why DigitalGlobe, Inc. Stock Fell as Much as 11.8% Today

By Steve Symington - Sep 24, 2015 at 5:06PM

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The satellite imagery specialist was downgraded by an analyst.

What: Shares of DigitalGlobe (DGI) fell as much as 11.8% early Thursday, then closed the day down 8%, following a notable analyst downgrade.

So what: Specifically, analysts at JP Morgan downgraded DigitalGlobe stock from "Overweight" to "Neutral" this morning, and simultaneously lowered their per-share price target on the satellite imagery specialist from $30 to $27. Even so, keep in mind that lowered target would still offer a hefty premium over yesterday's closing price of $20.65 per share, and is 42% above DigitalGlobe's current trading price at around $19 per share.

Now what: The downgrade also came despite a positive -- albeit largely expected -- press release from DigitalGlobe this morning, with which it announced the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has renewed its Global Enhanced GEOINT Delivery program under the EnhancedView contract beginning this month.

But it also doesn't help that DigitalGlobe is still reeling from the company's most recent quarterly report, in which it beat analysts' expectations, but warned of "somewhat moderated" top-line growth in the second half of the year. According to DigitalGlobe CEO Jeffrey Tarr, to blame was their decision to avoid selling their highest quality 30cm imagery to some larger location-based services (LBS) customers at rock-bottom prices. To be sure, the nature of those customers' products -- including satellite views for web-based mapping services -- would mean making this unique imagery freely available on the web, which would undermine DigitalGlobe's value proposition to higher-margin customers in other verticals.

I've already made clear my personal view this was a prudent, long-term-oriented move by DigitalGlobe management. And it's worth noting with the help of DigitalGlobe's outperformance in Q2, the company was able to reiterate its prior outlook for 2015 revenue of $725 million to $750 million, and adjusted EBITDA of $355 million to $375 million. For perspective, mid-point of the former range sits well above analysts' current consensus estimates for 2015 revenue of $728.6 million. In the end, if DigitalGlobe manages to continue its streak of under-promising an over-delivering, I think this drop could be a great opportunity for long-term investors to step in.

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