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Credit Suisse Thinks Ultimate Software Group Is Also the Ultimate Stock

Jon C. Ogg

Ultimate Software Group Inc. (ULTI) may have just become the ultimate stock. That is the take of Credit Suisse's Investment Policy Committee after the firm just added Ultimate Software to its prized US Focus List.

Credit Suisse has an Outperform rating on it, and the $260 target price in this call is actually the highest on all of Wall Street. The consensus analyst price target in the Thomson Reuters sell-side research universe was last seen at $234.70.

For those who do not know much about Ultimate Software: it is a provider of cloud-based human capital management solutions to enterprise level companies in North America. Its UltiPro software solution allows businesses to manage their employee life cycles from recruitment to retirement.

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Perhaps this goes without saying, considering it has the highest target of all analysts, but Credit Suisse believes that Ultimate Software is now one of its top investment ideas. The firm noted:

We view Ultimate Software's consistent execution over many years and the high degree of visibility into future operating results to be highly valued by investors, warranting its historical premium valuation to the peer group. Management has visibility into 2017 recurring revenue growth guide of +25% year over year.

Despite having a share price of almost $200, it turns out that Ultimate Software has been a relative underperformer year to date, of those in the Credit Suisse coverage universe. The report said:

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We believe the recent noise surrounding the company (NetSuite contribution, capitalized software development costs, increased competition, regulatory changes) is unfounded, and we view the current share price as a unique buying opportunity for investors... We believe the next few quarters of in-line to above results-starting with the first quarter could push the stock much higher from current levels.

As far as the valuation, Ultimate Software is valued at about 5.6 times the enterprise value over expected 2017 sales. Credit Suisse said that this is below both the long-term historical average and the median (6.9 and 6.8, respectively). The firm's $260 price target is said to imply a 2017/2018 EV/sales multiple of 8.1 times and 6.6 times, respectively.

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One thing that investors might want to keep in mind is that Ultimate Software is currently scheduled to report its first-quarter earnings for 2017 on Tuesday, April 25. Ultimate Software shares were last seen trading up 7% year to date in 2017, but that is down 4% from six months ago and is basically flat versus a year ago.

Credit Suisse's Blue Sky Scenario lays out how Ultimate Software share price could get as high as $300 or so. The firm said in a post-earnings report earlier in 2017:

Better than expected bookings in mid/strategic markets and sustained momentum in the enterprise market along with increased operating leverage given economies of scale result in revenue CAGR of +21.8% from 2019 to 2026 and terminal operating margin of 34.8%. This yields a blue sky scenario of $300 per share.

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Ultimate Software shares were up 1.5% at $198.30 after Credit Suisse's call. Its 52-week trading range is $180.29 to $224.07, and its consensus analyst target price is $234.70. Ultimate Software's market cap is $5.9 billion.

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