The Ratings Game: ‘Cloud titans’ Meta and Microsoft bring growth and risk to Arista Networks, analyst says

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Arista Networks Inc. is enjoying revenue growth fueled by the so-called “cloud titans” led by Meta Platforms Inc. and Microsoft Corp. But at least one analyst warns that this could be a double-edged sword for Arista.

Cloud-software and data-center supplier Arista ANET, +3.19% reported third-quarter earnings and outlook that topped Wall Street’s relatively low consensus on Halloween. Meta META, +1.53% and Microsoft MSFT, -1.53% loomed large over the company’s numbers.

“Cloud Titans dominate the results,” wrote Raymond James analyst Simon Leopold, in a note released on Monday. Arista, he noted, expects the group to contribute 45% of its 2022 sales.

However, the importance of such a small group of companies to Arista’s growth can also pose challenges. “This level of concentration presents risk,” Leopold added, noting that the Cloud Titans have risen from 30% of sales at the start of the year to 45% for the full-year. “The group has clearly over-shadowed the other verticals in terms of growth,” he said.

See Now: Arista Networks stock muted as earnings clear analysts’ low bar

But as things stand, the cloud titans look set to fuel more growth for Arista. “Last week, leading customer Meta offered a better than expected capital investment forecast for 2023,” Leopold wrote. “Further, our checks indicate that Google GOOG, -2.64% has selected Arista, Cisco CSCO, -0.13%, Juniper JNPR, +0.47%, and Nokia NOKIA, +0.01% to displace some white box platforms ramping in 2023.”

“White box” refers to data center equipment that is not manufactured by a well-known company.

Last week, Facebook parent Meta raised its 2022 capex outlook to $ 32 billion to $ 33 billion, up from its prior range of $ 30 billion to $ 34 billion. For 2023, Meta gave capex outlook in the range of $ 34 billion to $ 39 billion, which it said is driven by investments in data centers, servers, and network infrastructure. The tech giant also said that an increase in AI capacity is driving “substantially all” of its capital expenditure growth in 2023.

Raymond James has a market perform rating on Arista.

See Now: Data-center suppliers get boost as Facebook parent Meta hikes capex for AI

J.P. Morgan has an overweight rating on Arista. In a note released on Monday J.P. Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee said this is based on expectations for resilient revenue growth due to cloud capex growth from “cloud titan” customers heading into 2023. The analyst also pointed to “favorable positioning for upside” from 400G adoption at customers using Arista’s hyperscale networking equipment.

Arista’s “spookily strong cloud revenue” should be viewed as a “sustainable treat,” wrote KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Thomas Blakey, in a note released on Tuesday. KeyBanc Capital Markets reiterated its overweight rating on Arista, but cut its price target to $ 161 from $ 170, citing compressed technology valuation multiples.

Arista’s stock rose 2% on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.37% declined 0.6%. Shares of Arista have fallen 14.3% this year, compared with the S&P 500’s decline of 19.3%.