Adobe has become leader in the cloud, building a broad portfolio of digital marketing and creativity applications through internal efforts and the occasional acquisition. For example, the $540 million acquisition of video advertising platform TubeMogul in December opportunistically rounded out Adobe's digital marketing offerings.
The company has become "the pure play on adoption of the cloud," said Jim Cramer, TheStreet's founder and manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, which owns ADBE.
Though Adobe's portfolio is robust and the company has been a case study in how to transition to the cloud, e-commerce is arguably a hole in its portfolio. The company reportedly bid for e-commerce outfit Demandware last year, but Salesforce.com (CRM) - Get Reportbeat it out with a $3.8 billion acquisition. A company like Shopify (SHOP) - Get Report or privately held Magento Inc., formerly part of eBay Inc. (EBAY) - Get Report, could attract Adobe's interest as it builds its case as an indispensable cloud marketing partner.
"Broad strokes, I think e-commerce is definitely an area Adobe [where] is looking," said Morningstar analyst Rodney Nelson in an email, noting that Adobe's pursuit of Demandware underscores its interest in the segment. "Shopify would be a name they could theoretically have on their radar."
E-commerce is one of the few gaps left in Adobe's portfolio. Evercore ISI analyst Kirk Materne compared holdings of Adobe, Salesforce.com, Oracle (ORCL) - Get Reportand IBM (IBM) - Get Report in 10 digital marketing categories and subcategories in a recent report. Adobe's only blank was e-commerce. Likewise UBS analyst John Byun "e-commerce remains a product hole" in the marketing cloud.
Shopify, with a $6.3 billion market cap, would be a substantially larger bite than TubeMogul. It would be a large deal for Adobe but hardly a stretch for a company with a $60 billion market valuation. Shopify's stock rose 3% on Tuesday after Pacific Crest analyst Monika Garg raised her price target from $66 to $78 per share.
Revenues could more than quadruple to $1.7 billion by 2021, Garg wrote, calling Shopify the fastest-growing software-as-a-service company she follows. Shopify's revenues grow more than 50%, she noted, surpassing Demandware's growth of 30% and making Shopify a buyout target.
Privately held Magento has a bigger hand in e-commerce. Garg wrote that Magento processed $105 billion in gross merchandise volume last year, compared to Shopify's $15 billion.
Private equity firm Permira acquired the business from Ebay in 2015 through a complex deal. Permira, Sterling Partners and Longview Asset Management purchased eBay Enterprise unit for $925 million and then divvied up the assets, with Permira taking Magento.
Adobe and Shopify did not respond to a query about potential e-commerce acquisitions. Magento declined to comment.
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Editors' pick: Originally published March 21.