U.S stocks make minor gains as investors watch for clues on outlook from Fed



2 “Strong Buy” Stocks From RBC’s Top Analysts

The second quarter kicked off with the S&P 500 sitting above the 4,000 level for the first time. According to the majority of US Equity Research analysts at RBC Capital, the outlook for the rest of the year remains positive, too. A recent analyst survey at the investment firm revealed that 67% have a bullish or very bullish outlook for performance of the stocks in their respective industries over the next 6-12 months. Looking ahead, the analysts are concerned by Covid-19 related uncertainty and monetary policy more than inflation and are particularly buoyant regarding the cash deployment outlook, margin expansion and fundamentals. On the other hand, less than half of those surveyed think valuations for their industries are attractive. That’s not a problem, however, for a pair of stocks recently highlighted by two of RBC’s top analysts. And when we say top analysts making these calls, we mean it. These are stock picks from analysts among the top 15 in the TipRanks database. It also doesn’t hurt that each stock is admired by the rest of the analyst community, enough so to earn a “Strong Buy” consensus rating. Visa, Inc. (V) The first stock we’re looking at, Visa, is a stalwart of the equity markets. Visa is a $ 480 billion company, and a long-time component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company dominates the world’s banking card industry, with a 50% market share globally, excluding China. Unfortunately for Visa, it’s very size has worked against it recently. The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation of Visa’s debit card practices – specifically, into whether or not the company has engaged in illegal anticompetitive practices by preventing merchants from routing Visa-branded debit card transactions over less-expensive networks. The DOJ move comes after Visa has had a difficult year. The corona crisis, and the governmental reactions to it, tanked economies and trade worldwide; the reduction in commerce sent ripple effects through multiple industries, including payment processors like Visa. The company’s last three quarters have all shown year-over-year declines in revenues and earnings – although, since Q3 fiscal 2020, the results have been growing sequentially, an indication that improved economic conditions are stimulating commercial activity. Visa’s most recent report, for Q1 fiscal 2021, showed $ 5.7 billion at the top line with $ 3.04 billion in net earnings. These numbers were down 6% and 4% from the prior year quarter. Three major metrics, however, all point toward continued recovery: payments volume, cross-border volume and processed transactions were up from 4Q20. And even the top line revenue was up 12% quarter-over-quarter. Visa’s management expressed confidence in the results, and showed it by authorizing an additional $ 8 billion to the company’s share repurchase program, bringing the total fund available for capital returns to $ 11 billion. This came after Visa returned $ 2.5 billion to shareholders in fiscal first quarter. Covering Visa for RBC is 5-star analyst Daniel Perlin, who’s ranked #8 in the TipRanks database. Perlin is of the opinion that there are better days ahead for the stock. “Visa’s current quarter and forward commentary firmly re-establishes the durability in the model long-term as cross-border, debit, and ecommerce volumes all point to better days ahead… the quarter’s cross-border results were better than it had previously forecasted and drove what it considered an overall stronger-than-expected FQ1/21,” Perlin noted. The analyst summed up, “As the path to ‘normalization’ becomes clearer, likely in the second half of calendar 2021, we believe many of the positive structural changes that are now benefiting Visa will persist, while cyclical drags (such as short-haul travel) will modestly abate…” In line with his comments, Perlin rates Visa stock an Outperform (i.e. Buy), with a $ 297 price target indicating a potential 36% upside in the year ahead. (To watch Perlin’s track record, click here) Overall, it’s clear that Wall Street agrees with the bullish outlook on Visa. The stock has 18 recent reviews, breaking down 16 to 2 in favor of Buy versus Hold. V shares are trading for $ 216.86, and their average target of $ 247.67 implies a one-year upside of ~13%. (See Visa stock analysis on TipRanks) Synopsys (SNPS) From the payment industry we transition to where the semiconductor and software segments intersect. Synopsys is one of the world’s largest software companies and specializes in Electronic design automation (EDA), also known as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD). While the company operates in close proximity to the semiconductor sector, it is not impacted by the cyclical nature of the chip industry. Synopsys isn’t a semiconductor manufacturer per se but provides the tools for engineers to test and design cutting-edge semiconductors. The company delivered a strong display in its latest quarterly financial report. Revenue hit $ 970.32 million, increasing by 16.3% year-over-year, and beating the consensus estimates by $ 15.95 million. There was a beat on the bottom-line, too, as Non-GAAP EPS of $ 1.52 came ahead of Wall Street’s forecast by $ 0.06 That said, after shares appreciated by 83% throughout 2020, the stock has found 2021 tough going, and sits slightly in the red. RBC’s Mitch Steves, however, expects that to change over the next 12 months. The 5-star analyst, rated #15 overall on TipRanks, noted, “Synopsys has a record of stable operations, a well-managed order pipeline, and predictable earnings. We expect it to benefit from an improving pricing environment in the sector and strong growth in IP offerings. We expect earnings growth above normalized EPS growth for semiconductor companies, with almost no volatility.” Steves added, “We see no change to the fundamental thesis and continue to believe that EDA is one of the best (if not the best) ways to invest in semiconductor growth long-term without material business volatility. Net Net: we remain positive on shares of SNPS.” In line with his optimistic approach, Steves rates SNPS an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $ 330 price target. The implication for investors? Upside of 28% from current levels. (To watch Steves’ track record, click here) Steves’ positive outlook resonates with almost all his colleagues. Barring 1 Hold, all 9 other reviews say Buy, culminating in a Strong Buy consensus rating. The average price target currently stands at $ 318.89, suggesting gains of ~24% in the year ahead. (See SNPS stock analysis on TipRanks) To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.