Shares of Cisco Systems Inc. (NAS:CSCO) rallied 1.1% in midday trading Thursday, to buck the broad-market selloff, after Morgan Stanley analyst Meta Marshall turned bullish on the networking giant, citing attractive valuation, durable earnings growth and potential tailwinds. The stock was the best performer of the two of 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) components that were gaining ground, as the Dow tumbled 494 points, or 1.9%. Marshall raised the rating to overweight, after being at equal weight since February 2019, and boosted his price target on the stock to $54 from $46. Marshall said Cisco's valuation multiple is at the greatest discount to the S&P 500 (S&P:SPX) in the past 10 years. He believes the "valuation gap" will normalize as Cisco's earnings prove more resilient than investor expectations, driven by strength in public sector and service provider revenue, and as business spending improves as networking and security needs grow. "We are mindful of secular headwinds and broad macro exposure, but think growing networking/security needs, cash flow flexibility and [operating expenditure] discipline provide tailwinds, helping multiple gap close over [the next 12 months]," Marshall wrote in a note to clients. The stock has lost 3.5% year to date, while the Dow has dropped 10.4% and the S&P 500 has eased 3.4%.
July 9, 2020, 11:49 a.m. EDT