Tech stocks may be getting overheated these days but there may still be some buys out there for value investors, one of them being software giant Oracle (Oracle Stock Quote, Chart, News NYSE:ORCL).
The company now making news for its investment in social media sensation TikTok could finally be heading in the right direction, says Brian Acker of Acker Finley, who thinks the stock will go higher.
US technology stocks likes Amazon and Microsoft have done well this year despite the pandemic and related economic disruption and while 2020 has been far from a bust for Oracle —the stock is currently up12 per cent— those gains may appear slight compared to the FAANG group.
That’s all the better for investors looking for a good tech pickup, says Acker, CEO and chief investment strategist at Acker Finley, who appeared on BNN Bloomberg on Monday and gave Oracle as one of his three Top Picks for the next 12 months.
“I’ve got Oracle on the books at $12 and we now have a target price of $86. That’s a 46 per cent upside,” said Acker. “Oracle made some news recently and they’re now involved with Tiktok when they won that auction. We’ll have to wait for perhaps the call from Oracle to tell us how that’s going to work.”
Last month, after US President Donald Trump had called for a US-based tech company to take over the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok due to security concern, Oracle seemingly beat out Microsoft by snagging a 12.5 per cent stake in the company and control of TikTok’s business in the United States. That move, which also sees retail giant Walmart working with Oracle on the deal, staved off the threat of a nationwide ban of the app issued earlier by the US Department of Commerce but apparently will still see TikTok mostly kept in the hands of Chinese company ByteDance.
Acker said the news might renew hopes that Oracle, which has seen others take the lead in the ongoing digital shift to cloud computing, may finally be getting back in the race.
“With Oracle, they missed cloud computing, which, obviously, is huge,” Acker said. “Microsoft jumped on it and that’s why Microsoft has done so well, and, obviously, Amazon.”
“So here’s just a straight software company, they miss the cloud computing thing and they want to get in on the next thing and maybe it’s social media in terms of TikTok,” Acker added.
“The dividend is measly at 1.7 per cent but, from our point of view, [it’s about] value [investing] and software, and hopefully they can jump into whatever’s next and get on that trend and the stock will perform,” Acker said.
Last month, Oracle posted positive results for its latest quarter, its fiscal first 2021, showing revenue up two per cent instead of the drop of six per cent for the previous quarter. The company expects more of the same going forward, with management’s guidance calling for one to three per cent revenue growth for the company’s fiscal second quarter and earnings between $0.98 and $1.02 per share. Analysts had been calling for earnings of $0.94 per share.
The Oracle-TikTok deal however, is not without its skeptics. Writing for Bloomberg recently, writer Ken Wagner said the math on it just doesn’t add up to satisfy requirements laid out from President Donald Trump that Americans ultimately control the latter.
Right now, noted Wagner, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd. claimed control over 80 per cent of the new entity, with US shareholders including Oracle and WalMart on the outside.
But the author said there may actually be a tactic to get TikTok in American hands after all and in comes in the form of “super-voting” shares employed routinely in the world of tech.
“It’s possible, though, that a creative corporate structure could give Oracle outsize power,” Wagner argued. “Some tech companies like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have special super-voting shares, meaning a minority investor could still control the company, assuming their shares carry extra votes. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg owned just 12.9% of all Facebook’s outstanding shares as of April 3, for example, but controlled nearly 58% of the vote thanks to super-voting shares. TikTok could theoretically do the same, issuing special voting shares to Oracle in order to ensure the company has control over TikTok.
One thing the potential new deal may have going for it is a personal connection. Oracle boss Larry Ellison is that rarest of birds in the tech world; a Trump supporter, something that may get the whole thing over the line.
“I think Oracle is a great company and I think its owner is a tremendous guy, a tremendous person,” Trump remarked after the Financial Times reported that Ellison was warming to a deal with TikTok. “I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it.”
Shares of Oracle closed Tuesday down five cents to $59.51, on the higher end of its recent range.