Top Wall Street analysts pick these stocks for attractive returns

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NVIDIA President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang
Robert Galbraith | Reuters

Recession risk is on the minds of investors, particularly as the Federal Reserve remains resolute in hiking interest rates.

In these tough times, investors would be well advised to find stocks that are positioned to navigate a potential economic downturn.

To help with the process, here are five stocks chosen by Wall Street’s top professionals, according to TipRanks, a platform that ranks analysts based on their past performance.

Nvidia

Chip giant Nvidia (NVDA) has been under pressure due to the slump in the PC gaming market. Revenue and earnings declined in the fiscal fourth quarter compared to the prior year, but the company managed to beat Wall Street’s expectations due to the year-over-year rise in data center revenues.

Investors cheered Nvidia’s first-quarter revenue guidance and CEO Jensen Huang’s commentary about how the company is well-positioned to benefit from the heightened interest in generative artificial intelligence (AI).   

Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis expects Nvidia’s data center revenues to reaccelerate year-over-year beyond the first quarter and grow 28% in 2023 and 30% in 2024, supported by higher AI spend. (See Nvidia Stock Chart on TipRanks) 

Lipacis said, “In contrast to INTC/AMD noting cloud inventory builds, NVDA discussed a positive H100 ramp (already crossing over A100 in just second quarter after launch), accelerating DC [data center] revs YY beyond C1Q23, and alluded to better visibility and more optimism for the year due to increasing activity around AI infrastructure, LLMs [large language models], and generative AI.”

The analyst views Nvidia as a “top pick” following the recent results, and reiterated a buy rating. He raised the price target for NVDA stock to $300 from $275.

Lipacis is ranked No. 2 among more than 8,300 analysts on TipRanks. His ratings have been profitable 73% of the time, with each rating delivering a return of 27.6%, on average.

Ross Stores

Ross Stores (ROST) delivered upbeat results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, as the off-price retailer’s value offerings continued to attract customers. However, the company issued conservative guidance for fiscal 2023 due to the impact of high inflation on its low-to-moderate income customers.

Following the results, Guggenheim analyst Robert Drbul, who is ranked 306th among the analysts on TipRanks, lowered his fiscal 2023 earnings per share estimate for Ross Stores to reflect the impact of persistent macro headwinds.

Nonetheless, he expects Ross Stores’ earnings to return to double-digit growth in fiscal 2023, driven by a higher operating margin, the accelerated opening of new stores and the company’s share buyback program.

Drbul reiterated a buy rating for Ross Stores and a price target of $125, citing “the favorable environment for the company given greater supply of branded goods in the marketplace, stronger value proposition, and broader assortment compared to pandemic levels.”

Drbul has delivered profitable ratings 63% of the time, and his ratings have generated an average return of 9.1%. (See Ross Stores Hedge Fund Trading Activity on TipRanks)

Kontoor Brands

Next on our list is another consumer discretionary company – Kontoor Brands (KTB), which owns the iconic Wrangler and Lee Brands. Shares of the clothing company rallied on the day it reported solid fourth-quarter results and issued a strong outlook for 2023.   

Williams Trading analyst Sam Poser noted that the demand for Wrangler and Lee continues to improve, fueled by the company’s brand-enhancing initiatives. Further, he thinks that Kontoor’s fiscal 2023 outlook “will likely prove conservative.” He expects the company’s revenue growth in China to turn positive in the second quarter and sequentially accelerate thereafter.

Poser raised his fiscal 2023 and 2024 earnings per share estimates, reiterated his buy rating for Kontoor Brands and increased the price target to $60 from $53. (See Kontoor Brands Insider Trading Activity on TipRanks)

“The combination of better than expected 4Q22 results, led by a 20% increase in U.S. DTC [direct-to-consumer] revenue, ongoing improvements in the positioning of both the Wrangler & Lee brands, and reasonable guidance, are indicative of ongoing improvements in KTB’s consumer facing capabilities and its overall operations,” said Poser.  

Poser is ranked 134th among the analysts tracked by TipRanks. Further, 55% of his ratings have been successful, generating a return of 17.7%, on average.

Fiserv

Fiserv (FISV), a provider of payments and financial services technology solutions, is also on our list this week. Last month, the company announced its fourth-quarter results and assured investors about being well-poised to deliver its 38th consecutive year of double-digit adjusted earnings per share growth, supported by recent client additions, solid recurring revenue and productivity efforts.

Tigress Financial analyst Ivan Feinseth noted that Fiserv continues to experience strong business momentum, thanks to the performance of its payments product portfolio and the strength in Clover, the company’s cloud-based point-of-sale and business management platform. (See Fiserv Financial Statements on TipRanks)

“FISV’s diversified product portfolio and industry-leading technology position it at the forefront of the ongoing secular shift to electronic payments and the growing use of connected devices to deliver payment processing services and financial data access,” said Feinseth. The analyst reiterated a buy rating for FISV stock and raised the price target to $154 from $152.

Feinseth holds the 176th position among more than 8,300 analysts tracked on the site. Moreover, 62% of his ratings have been profitable, his ratings generating an average return of 12.3%.

Workday

Workday (WDAY), a provider of cloud-based finance and human resources applications, issued a subdued outlook for fiscal 2024, which overshadowed better-than-anticipated results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023.

Baird analyst Mark Marcon noted that Workday continues to gain market share in human capital management and financial management solutions in the enterprise space, though its pace of growth ahead is “slightly tempered by macro uncertainty.”

Marcon also noted that despite elongated enterprise sales cycles due to macro pressures, Workday gained seven new Fortune 500 and 11 new Global 2000 customers in the fiscal fourth quarter. The analyst said that the new co-CEO Carl Eschenbach is “quickly making a mark on WDAY” and that the company is expected to reaccelerate subscription revenue growth to the 20% level once the macro backdrop is normalized.

“While our near-term expectations are more muted, we believe the valuation relative to the long-term potential continues to be attractive considering WDAY’s high net revenue retention (over 100%), high GAAP gross margins, strong FCF [free cash flow] and strong growth potential given financials moving to the cloud,” said Marcon.

The analyst slightly lowered his price target for Workday stock to $220 from $223 to reflect near-term pressures. He reiterated a buy rating, given the company’s long-term growth potential.

Marcon ranks 444th out of the analysts followed on TipRanks. His ratings have been profitable 60% of the time, generating a 13.5% average return. (See Workday Blogger Opinions & Sentiment on TipRanks)

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