Jefferies downgraded its rating on shares of Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) to hold from buy with a price target of $55.
We see limited upside to estimates in fiscal 2012 based on our recent SMB proprietary survey and work we've done on the consumer tax biz. The stock has worked well as both a multiple expansion and defensive story, but we feel much is discounted into the valuation, said Ross MacMillan, an analyst at Jefferies.
MacMillan said he downgraded Intuit based on the stock approaching his price target (17 times of fiscal 2013 EPS) coupled with the fact that he sees limited upside to his estimates in fiscal 2012.
He published a new SMB proprietary survey and has done some fresh work on the consumer tax business. He still views Intuit as a well run business with some unique assets, but sees upside more limited for the stock.
MacMillan said there was limited small business creation, the view of the economy from SMBs has down-ticked slightly in the last three months, and SMB employment trends remain weak.
The bright spots are that QuickBooks growth is expected to be the same in 2012 versus 2011, views on QuickBooks Online seem be gradually improving and attach of other services to online (such as payroll) seem to be ticking up (an important factor in the long-term growth story). However, overall he concludes that SMB estimates are unlikely to surprise over the next few quarters.
He believes there is still some risk that the digital category grows a few points more slowly in fiscal 2012 than fiscal 2011 due to the shift from pen plus paper last season. He understands management's stance on this issue, but doesn't believe he should ignore some risk.
MacMillan also believes H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) demonstrated it could be a more meaningful competitor last year. He has become a little more cautious on the growth in aggregate returns given the macro backdrop and stubborn unemployment.
While we are not making a broader SMB call (and we don't think the cautious data is necessarily surprising, given NFB and other sources showing similar), we do highlight certain names that have meaningful SMB exposure in our group, said MacMillan.
He said certain names that have meaningful SMB exposure include: Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE), Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM), Qlik Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: QLIK) , and SolarWinds Inc. (NYSE: SWI).
The brokerage maintained its 2012 EPS estimate for Intuit of $2.90 on revenue of $4.23 billion and its 2013 estimate of $3.27 on revenue of $4.63 billion.
Intuit stock closed Thursday's regular trading up 4.23 percent at $55.21 on the NASDAQ Stock Market.