RBC Capital Markets has downgraded Adobe Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) to "underperform" from "sector perform" over structural concerns.
"We believe the transition from a perpetual model to reoccurring revenue based on a 12-month release cycle, while positive for the long term, will likely create near-term volatility compounded by macro issues which could cause the stock to test and even break valuation levels seen in 2008/2009," analyst Robert Breza wrote in a note to clients.
Breza said Adobe's consumer and SMB markets may come under increased pressure in the second half of 2011 as those customers look to cut expenses, which could hurt Adobe's CS5.5 launch.
Adobe is heavily influenced by the indirect advertising market, which is highly discretionary. The number of indirect (i.e. employed by others) creative professionals has been reduced by cutbacks at newspapers and magazines; many of them have become freelancers who must economize and do not upgrade as often.
"We believe this pro-consumer subsegment, which could account for as much as 30 percent of revenues, is undeserved by Adobe, with its high-price point CS5.5 suite. We believe a more price-sensitive, supplemented strategy could reinvigorate growth," the analyst said.
"Again, we like the longer-term implication from a more stable business model, and would look to become more constructive once the business model stabilizes. However, until then we would avoid shares of Adobe," wrote Breza, who also cut his price target on Adobe stock to $22 from $32.
Shares of Adobe closed Thursday's regular trading session at $24.