Shares of LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN) may be hitting all-time highs, but at least one Wall Street pro thinks that shares of this provider of high-tech customer-support solutions are heading even higher. Piper Jaffray analyst Alex Zukin initiated coverage of the stock with a bullish Overweight rating on Monday. He's slapping a Street-high price target of $39 on LivePerson shares, suggesting 32% more upside off of last week's all-time high.
Zukin feels that we are in the early stages of a massive secular shift of voice to messaging and AI, a niche in which LivePerson has advantages as an early mover. He sees LivePerson as a beneficiary as companies seek to evolve how they communicate with customers in this digital world. He feels that the stock is an inexpensive -- or at least relatively cheap -- way to play the business-to-consumer digital transformation.
Image source: LivePerson.
Arguing that there's still time to buy into LivePerson may seem odd. The stock is a seven-bagger since bottoming out at $3.74 three years ago. However, this is also a fundamentally stronger company than it was when it was out of favor with growth investors.
LivePerson has a strong pedigree of consistency. Until the streak was snapped in 2015, LivePerson rattled off 51 consecutive quarters of sequential -- yes, sequential -- revenue growth. Several factors held the company's top-line growth back in the two subsequent years, but it's back to its steady form. Revenue rose 14% in each of last year's first three quarters, and when that run was snapped in the fourth quarter, it broke to the upside. LivePerson's revenue rose 15% through the final three months of last year, its headiest top-line burst in more than three years, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
LivePerson provides companies with cost-effective and often more efficient ways to communicate with customers. The next time you find yourself on the website of your wireless carrier, bank, or utility provider looking for customer service and a pop-up window asks if you would like to chat with a representative, that could be LivePerson's handiwork in action. LivePerson also offers a more proactive approach to chat, for instance when it senses that you're about to abandon the online shopping cart you've started to fill up.
The communications tech specialist is clearly over the lull it had between late 2015 and mid-2017. The setback was partly self-inflicted but was also by design as it revamped its platform and let some legacy customers go. LivePerson is focused now. Its guidance calls for accelerating growth this year and building on that with at least a 20% top-line increase come 2020. Growth of 15% to 20% may not seem very exciting, but it's a big deal when you score LivePerson for its consistency.
The story isn't as kind on the bottom line, where its performance has been historically bumpy, but with LivePerson continuing to sign deals with new and existing customers, it's hard to bet against the momentum here. Piper Jaffray's Zukin may be the new bull on LivePerson, but he probably won't be the last.
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