Adobe's (ADBE) calculated growth in digital marketing should translate to solid results this quarter, as the company is expected to see a year-over-year increase in earnings and revenue when it reports results for the fiscal 2016 fourth quarter after Thursday's closing bell, analysts say.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect Adobe to post adjusted earnings of 86 cents per share and $1.59 billion in revenue. The San Jose, CA-based company's digital media unit, which includes popular software like Photoshop, is expected to generate $1.06 billion during the quarter. Wall Street is estimating that digital marketing, a division that delivers a wide range of enterprise data services, will see revenue of $482 million.
For the same period last year, the software company reported adjusted earnings of 62 cents per share on revenue of $1.31 billion. Digital media revenue was $990 million, while digital marketing revenue was $430 million in the quarter.
Jim Cramer and Jack Mohr, who co-manage the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio, recently added Adobe to their holdings, nothing that the company has emerged as a leader in lucrative markets such as digital content creation and digital marketing, particularly as advertising and marketing budgets move away from traditional outlets and go online.
Deutsche Bank analysts expect some upside to consensus estimates for the fourth quarter, largely as a result of "continued momentum" in Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud activity. Creative Cloud software falls under its digital media segment, while Marketing Cloud services are included in its digital marketing division.
In 2013, Adobe made a then-controversial business move to a subscription model from a software license model, but now, that move seems to be paying off. In its latest earnings report, Adobe was helped by a 41% jump in subscription revenue.
Creative cloud revenues are likely to remain at high single digits in the long run and marketing cloud revenue should continue to grow 15% to 20% for the next few years, Deutsche Bank said. The firm has a "buy" rating and $125 price target on share of Adobe.
Adobe's fourth-quarter report "should be fairly uneventful," as Adobe already indicated at its Sept. 20 analyst day that it expects to either meet or exceed targets from 2016 to 2018, the firm added.
For the fourth quarter, Adobe expects to report adjusted earnings in the range of 83 to 89 cents per share and revenue between $1.55 billion to $1.60 billion in the 2016 fourth quarter.
The company also provided guidance for 2017, saying it forecasts revenue to increase about 20% year-over-year to $7 billion. Adobe Marketing Cloud revenue is expected to increase 20% year-over-year, the company added.
Analysts are mostly watching to see how Adobe's planned $540 million acquisition of ad tech company TubeMogul (TUBE) will be integrated once the transaction closes in the first quarter of 2017. Deutsche Bank expects the deal to be slightly dilutive to Adobe's earnings in the near term, but generally views TubeMogul as a valuable asset to its Marketing Cloud division.
"Video ads are among the fastest growing areas of digital advertising, with spending expected to top $8.6 billion in 2017, up 40% from $6.2 billion in 2016..." the firm said in a Dec. 12 research note.
Adobe's Marketing Cloud software continues to appeal to large companies because it's the "most comprehensive solution," Deutsche Bank noted. Adobe announced further enhancements to the Marketing Cloud on Wednesday when it rolled out TV Media Management, a platform that adds to its existing ad-delivery system Adobe Primetime.
The platform provides media companies like NBC or Comcast (CMCSA) , both of which count Adobe as customers, with detailed data that measures consumers' viewing habits to improve targeted ad selling.
TV Media Management attempts to tackle the fragmented audiences that have developed as a result of streaming platforms. Viewers can bypass traditional TV advertising through ad blocking technology or through services like Hulu, which promise an ad-free streaming experience. TV Media Management allows media companies to better target viewer habits so that advertisers see a greater return on investment, and, in turn, media companies can sell ads at higher rates, said Campbell Foster, Adobe Primetime's director of product marketing.
Morningstar analyst Rodney Nelson said in a Nov. 10 analyst note that Adobe faces some competition from players like Salesforce (CRM) and Oracle (ORCL) , whose marketing products have more customer relationship management features, but that Adobe leads in terms of having a "robust platform" that spans campaign management, analytics and advanced advertising embedding.
"While we believe there are some companies whose needs may not align with Adobe's marketing value proposition, we think there is plenty of room for multiple large-scale winners in the marketing cloud, and Adobe appears to have an inside track," Nelson added.
BTIG analyst Abhinav Kapur said by email that the TubeMogul acquisition is another example of Adobe "smartly beefing up" the tech behind the marketing cloud. He doesn't expect many surprises in Adobe's fourth quarter earnings, largely because of Adobe's reiterated guidance.
"I think you'll see a strong Digital Marketing quarter (I model +33% y/y revenue growth) to get in-line with the 20% FY guidance, but I think longer term we need to start seeing acceleration in the growth rate above the ~20% mark to offset the 'law of large numbers'/slowdown on Creative Cloud revenue growth," said Kapur, who has a "neutral" rating on the company's stock.
Kapur added that he's interested to see if Thursday's earnings will motivate Adobe to revise its guidance for digital media revenue growth in 2017.