"Our Underperform rating has been based on underwhelming overall growth, along with management's conservative capital deployment strategy," Credit Suisse analysts wrote this week. "With 2018 guidance calling for another leg down in Auto revenue (-17%), along with a stable dividend payout ratio of 70% and a tepid buyback, our thesis remains intact."
Credit Suisse said it expects robust growth in Garmin's outdoor, aviation and marine segments. But, even double-digit growth in those businesses is only enough to drive low single-digit top line expansion, the analysts said. Analysts added they're also "pessimistic" about the auto segment long term, which will be a "continued drag."
Management maintains an "excessive" cash pile of about $2.3 billion, or roughly 19% of Garmin's market cap, analysts noted. The cash and related marketable securities yield less than a 2% return.
"We do not view this as a particularly good use of shareholder resources, and in light of Garmin's ownership structure and historical conservatism we have little optimism for a change," Credit Suisse said. "Investors have better options."
Credit Suisse maintains an underperform rating on Garmin stock with a $58 price target, implying about 10.6% downside for shares.
Management is guiding for 2018 revenue of $3.2 billion, up 3.7% from $3.09 billion in 2017. Earnings guidance of $3.05 is slightly ahead of Wall Street's expectation for $2.99 per share. Wall Street's pessimism is in large part being fueled by the dominance of Action Alerts Plus holding Apple's smartwatch.
Garmin's stock traded lower by 1.82% to $60.74 in early afternoon action Thursday. Shares are up 14.48% in the last year, but down 1.75% for the last month.