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Wall Street Analysts Think Salesforce.com (CRM) Is a Good Investment: Is It?

When deciding whether to buy, sell, or hold a stock, investors often rely on analyst recommendations. Media reports about rating changes by these brokerage-firm-employed (or sell-side) analysts often influence a stock's price, but are they really important?

Let's take a look at what these Wall Street heavyweights have to say about Salesforce.com (CRM) before we discuss the reliability of brokerage recommendations and how to use them to your advantage.

Salesforce.com currently has an average brokerage recommendation (ABR) of 1.82, on a scale of 1 to 5 (Strong Buy to Strong Sell), calculated based on the actual recommendations (Buy, Hold, Sell, etc.) made by 39 brokerage firms. An ABR of 1.82 approximates between Strong Buy and Buy.

Of the 39 recommendations that derive the current ABR, 23 are Strong Buy and two are Buy. Strong Buy and Buy respectively account for 59% and 5.1% of all recommendations.

Brokerage Recommendation Trends for CRM

Broker Rating Breakdown Chart for CRM
Broker Rating Breakdown Chart for CRM



Check price target & stock forecast for Salesforce.com here>>>

While the ABR calls for buying Salesforce.com, it may not be wise to make an investment decision solely based on this information. Several studies have shown limited to no success of brokerage recommendations in guiding investors to pick stocks with the best price increase potential.

Are you wondering why? The vested interest of brokerage firms in a stock they cover often results in a strong positive bias of their analysts in rating it. Our research shows that for every "Strong Sell" recommendation, brokerage firms assign five "Strong Buy" recommendations.

This means that the interests of these institutions are not always aligned with those of retail investors, giving little insight into the direction of a stock's future price movement. It would therefore be best to use this information to validate your own analysis or a tool that has proven to be highly effective at predicting stock price movements.

Zacks Rank, our proprietary stock rating tool with an impressive externally audited track record, categorizes stocks into five groups, ranging from Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) to Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), and is an effective indicator of a stock's price performance in the near future. Therefore, using the ABR to validate the Zacks Rank could be an efficient way of making a profitable investment decision.

Zacks Rank Should Not Be Confused With ABR

In spite of the fact that Zacks Rank and ABR both appear on a scale from 1 to 5, they are two completely different measures.

Broker recommendations are the sole basis for calculating the ABR, which is typically displayed in decimals (such as 1.28). The Zacks Rank, on the other hand, is a quantitative model designed to harness the power of earnings estimate revisions. It is displayed in whole numbers -- 1 to 5.

It has been and continues to be the case that analysts employed by brokerage firms are overly optimistic with their recommendations. Because of their employers' vested interests, these analysts issue more favorable ratings than their research would support, misguiding investors far more often than helping them.

In contrast, the Zacks Rank is driven by earnings estimate revisions. And near-term stock price movements are strongly correlated with trends in earnings estimate revisions, according to empirical research.

Furthermore, the different grades of the Zacks Rank are applied proportionately across all stocks for which brokerage analysts provide earnings estimates for the current year. In other words, at all times, this tool maintains a balance among the five ranks it assigns.

There is also a key difference between the ABR and Zacks Rank when it comes to freshness. When you look at the ABR, it may not be up-to-date. Nonetheless, since brokerage analysts constantly revise their earnings estimates to reflect changing business trends, and their actions get reflected in the Zacks Rank quickly enough, it is always timely in predicting future stock prices.

Is CRM a Good Investment?

Looking at the earnings estimate revisions for Salesforce.com, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has remained unchanged over the past month at $8.20.

Analysts' steady views regarding the company's earnings prospects, as indicated by an unchanged consensus estimate, could be a legitimate reason for the stock to perform in line with the broader market in the near term.

The size of the recent change in the consensus estimate, along with three other factors related to earnings estimates, has resulted in a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) for Salesforce.com. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks here >>>>

It may therefore be prudent to be a little cautious with the Buy-equivalent ABR for Salesforce.com.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report

Salesforce Inc. (CRM) : Free Stock Analysis Report

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