Minneapolis-based SPS Commerce reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, but its revenue guidance for 2016 raised concerns for JMP Securities analyst Patrick Walravens.
Walravens maintained his buy rating of “market outperform,” but he lowered his 12-month price target from $85 to $78 per share after SPS reported a disappointing outlook for 2016. Walravens wrote that it was the first time in SPS’ history as a public company that it has given a disappointing annual revenue outlook. SPS said last week that revenue is expected to be in the range of $191.5 million to $193 million, which would be about 21 to 22 percent growth over 2015.
According to Thomson Reuters, analysts were expecting 2016 revenue of $194.5 million, or 23 percent growth. Over the past five years, the average annual revenue growth had been 29 percent.
Turnover in its sales force is part of the issue.
“The company experienced a tougher than anticipated recruiting and hiring environment,” SPS Chief Financial Officer Kim Nelson said during the company’s earnings call with analysts.
The company had 238 salespeople at the end of the year, down from 260 on June 30. Officials said the company is accelerating hiring in sales this year.
Walravens mined LinkedIn profiles to see where some of those salespeople went and found 12 people who left SPS in 2015. “On average, they had been with the company for [about] 1.8 years and been promoted once. Two went to Oracle, while others went to companies such as Redpath and Acumatica,” he wrote.
Sales force turnover will continue to be a focus of Walravens’ due diligence, he said.
Hilliard Lyons resumes coverage on 3M
Hilliard Lyons, a Louisville, Ky.-based investment firm, dropped its coverage of Maplewood-based 3M Co. last year after losing an analyst. Last week, analyst Spencer Joyce, who has been with Hilliard Lyons since 2009, resumed the firm’s coverage.
Joyce wrote in his initial report: “Although we hold a qualitative view toward 3M as one of the few premier diversified R&D-focused industrials firms, we are re-initiating coverage with a ‘neutral’ rating. We view consensus estimates for 2016 / 2017 as too optimistic at this point, and expect investors may see a better entry point.”
Joyce sees 3M’s global reach in a number of different industries and economic sectors as positive. But given the uncertainty of the global economy, “we just do not see many scenarios that would merit qualitative bearishness on the global economy but bullishness towards 3M,” he wrote.