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As Shutterstock earnings push on, can the stock reach $80?

Shares of Shutterstock (NYSE: SSTK) are down 7.5% during the middle of Wednesday's trading session; some can blame it on the fact that the ISM Manufacturing PMI came in much lower than the markets were expecting, signaling a reasonable concern for the economy; some may blame it on the FOMC meeting pointing to higher rates for longer.

The point is, it doesn't matter what is said out there; the stock is down. Now, would you know that the same company was up 22.0% the day prior after announcing a massively bullish third quarter of 2023? How about the fact that Wednesday's decline is only a 'gap fill' after such a massive jump the day prior?

Knowing what you know now, would you still be willing to condemn the company that could be - and should be - your easiest value play decision this year? Lucky for you, the homework has been done to prove just why this is the case today.

Discounted upside 

When it comes to technology stocks, the year-to-date performance is nothing but stellar as judged by the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEARCA: XLK), and its near 35.0% rally so far this year. Shutterstock, on the other hand, presents a discount by underperforming the sector by as much as 64.0%.

Suppose you really want to get down to an apples-to-apples comparison. In that case, putting Shutterstock against Getty Images (NYSE: GETY) might be your best bet. And seeing that Getty trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 22.4x will make Shutterstock's 9.4x multiple a heck of a discount.

Despite the market's willingness to overpay for Getty, it is undeniable that Shutterstock holds the crown when it comes to market share and brand penetration, with some of the industry's most prominent players as customers. This is why Getty only has a 53.3% upside projection; with Shutterstock, try a bit higher.

Analysts are placing a price target of $66.3 a share on this stock, implying it needs to rally by as much as 76.5% to meet it. Previously, marks had been higher than $80.0, so why the sudden change of heart?

During the latest quarter, the company had perhaps only one negative thing to mention in its otherwise spectacular performance. Subscribers decreased to 551 thousand, compared to 556 thousand last quarter, which may have surprised analysts but not MarketBeat staff.  

The profit is in the details

Wall Street may have been spooked by a decrease in subscribers, but if you return to THIS piece, you will know that the team has been ahead of the curve. Due to mixed signals in the economy, the E-commerce (small businesses) customer base was expected to shrink and take a good chunk of subscribers out, bomb defused.

You may be thinking: Congratulations, but what is the good news? Well, that same article pointed to an expected increase in their enterprise customer base (big businesses), which did happen. This segment's revenue increased by a massive 60% during the year.

How come the stock is not rising, then? Even after announcing EPS growth of 26.0%? Because most of the headlines are focusing on the dark side of subscriptions instead of highlighting new customer deals and a bump of 21.8% in revenue per customer.

Which customers? Great question; how about Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) for starters, or a new multi-year deal that the company landed with Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) boosting the segment's revenue growth experienced during the year.

According to management's earnings call, these new deals have enabled them to boost their outlook guidance for the coming year, which should have been all that analysts needed to raise the price target, not lower them. But then again, sometimes Wall Street likes to be lazy around the holiday season.

There may be another reason behind the price target downgrade... Free cash flow decreased by $8.7 million over the year; panic, right?

Wrong, the decrease was due to their acquisition of GIPHY, which gave them access to Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META) API and yet another source of revenue - and earnings - boost to back up management guidance.

So again, knowing what you know now, do you still think Wednesday's decline is justified? Furthermore, is it fair that analysts knocked down the price target from the $80s? Some might say that the actual value of this stock is still at $80.0 a share, to say the least.

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