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Sell your Shopify stock and buy Microsoft, investor says


MicrosoftBig Tech stocks Shopify (Shopify Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials TSX:SHOP) and Microsoft (Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials NASDAQ:MSFT) are both coming off solid years, and the future still looks good for both of them, says portfolio manager Christine Poole of GlobeInvest Capital. Poole advises investors who’ve already made some money on Shopify should think about trimming and taking a look at Microsoft.

How good was 2020 for Canadian e-commerce sensation Shopify? The stock almost tripled, starting the year off at C$516 and, after enduring some ups and downs courtesy of COVID-19, ended at $1,437 per share.

But one thing to remember about Shopify is that while 2020 was certainly great, the company has been wowing investors for years, consistently showing its ability to bounce back from the occasional dip, post a new record in revenue and move to higher ground. The five-year return on SHOP is now an insane 5,561 per cent, meaning if you bought 100 shares at C$26 back in early 2016, you’d be $150K richer at this moment.

And for those of us prescient enough to have done so, now’s probably a good time to take some profits if you haven’t already. That’s the message from Poole, who said Microsoft would be a good switch.

“I think Shopify is well-positioned and will probably continue to grow its business. But what the stock has done over the past year, arguably, it reflects the trend of e-commerce and the cash flows that sector has attracted,” says Poole, CEO and managing director at GlobeInvest, who spoke on BNN Bloomberg on Monday.

“Microsoft is a great candidate to put some money into. It diversifies you into a different sector, and we think Microsoft is well-positioned and they also have benefited from work-from-home but we think that their cloud business continues to generate very strong growth and will continue to do so,” Poole said. “It’s not inexpensive — it’s trading at about just over 3x forward earnings — but it’s got a very strong balance sheet and can fund its growth internally.”

“So I think that’s a good decision to sell down some of your [Shopify] position and put it somewhere else,” she said.

Both Shopify and Microsoft were clear beneficiaries from pandemic-related developments, with the accelerated shift to online retail helping to float Shopify’s boat while the work-from-home economy further pressed businesses to upgrade their infrastructure and push ahead with the digital migration to the cloud, making Microsoft a winner, as well.

Microsoft, whose gains were a more modest 41 per cent last year, will be reporting its fiscal second quarter 2021 earnings next week, with analysts expecting an EPS of $1.64 per share compared to a year earlier at $1.51 per share. Microsoft had provided weaker than expected guidance with its most recent quarterly report, its fiscal Q1 delivered in late October. There, MSFT reported earnings of $1.82 per share on revenue of $37.15 billion; both were beats of analysts’ consensus average at $1.54 per share and $35.72 billion, respectively. (All figures in US dollars except where noted otherwise.)

But it was the somewhat muted forecast for the Q2 that was said to cause the stock to drop slightly with the Q1 report. Microsoft called for between $39.5 billion and $40.4 billion in Q2 revenue, which would represent an eight-per-cent year-over-year increase but was still below, at the midpoint, the Street’s call for $40.43 billion.

“Demand for our cloud offerings drove a strong start to the fiscal year with our commercial cloud revenue generating $15.2 billion, up 31% year over year,” said Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Microsoft, in the company’s fiscal Q1 press release. “We continue to invest against the significant opportunity ahead of us to drive long-term growth.”

Shopify, which will also be reporting earnings over the next few weeks, has been consistently beating analysts’ forecasts in recent quarters. In its latest, its third quarter 2020 delivered in late October, SHOP hit earnings of $1.13 per share on a topline of $767.4 million. Analysts had expected $0.49 per share and $667 million, respectively. As a representation of the growth in e-commerce over 2020, SHOP hit in the Q3 $30.9 billion in Gross Merchandise Volume, the total dollar value of orders on its platform, an increase of 109 per cent over the same period a year earlier.

Last week, Shopify got a boost from investment bankers Oppenheimer where analyst Koji Ikeda lifted his rating from “Market Perform” to “Outperform,” saying online commerce is still in its early stages of penetrating the market, giving Shopify a lot of room to run.

“We believe the Shopify story is unique within the software category because the business has an opportunity to become the complete technology stack for brands from the smallest SMB to largest global brands driving potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in GMV through the Shopify Platform,” Ikeda wrote in a report last Thursday.

Ikeda gave a one-year target price for SHOP of $1,300, which at press time represented a projected return of ten per cent.

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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