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: Pandemic darling Zoom may be starting to shine again

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When the world adjusted to the new reality of living and working in the constraints of a pandemic Zoom Video Communications Inc. was one of the big winners. Until it wasn’t.

After experiencing a meteoric rise in 2019 and 2020, Zoom’s shares tumbled in 2021 and 2022 as pandemic restrictions eased and Wall Street expressed concerns about customer growth.

Could this be about to change? Since Zoom reported its first-quarter results after the May 23 close, the company’s stock has risen about 29%, closing at $115.17 on Wednesday. That included a 5.6% surge on the day following first-quarter results, which snapped a six-quarter streak in which the stock fell following earnings.

On Thursday, the stock rose 1.6% in premarket trading to trade around a 2 1/2-month high.

Since 2020, the videoconferencing company has become part of daily life for millions of people around the world. Just as the phrase “to Google” entered the lexicon around the turn of the millennium, the phrase “getting on Zoom” has become commonplace since people began working, studying and socializing from home.

Zoom’s
ZM,
+1.19%

stock performance reflected this trend, rising 735% from $68.04 at the end of 2019 to reach a closing high of $568.34 on Oct. 19, 2020, before plunging through much of 2021 and 2022. Shares of Zoom have fallen 69.4% over the past year through Wednesday, outpacing a 10.0% decline on the S&P 500 index. In 2022, amid a broader tech selloff, Zoom’s stock is down 37.4%, compared with the S&P 500’s
SPX,
-0.13%

21.1% decline.

While Zoom has seen its share of price target cuts recently, it is much more than a pandemic one-hit wonder, according to Benchmark Research.

See Now: Zoom stock walks back initial surge following earnings beat, improved profit forecast

In May Benchmark Research raised its Zoom price target to $128 after the company topped Wall Street’s first-quarter earnings expectations and hiked its full-year profit forecast. “Despite a softening economy, enterprises appear committed to ‘good’ technology spending especially for the cloud,” wrote Benchmark Research analyst Matthew Harrigan. “We feel the fixation on Zoom as a Covid pandemic lockdown aberration is exaggerated as global tech and financial firms recognize the permanence of hybrid work.” Benchmark Research has a buy rating on Zoom.

Zoom had reported total first-quarter revenue of $1,073.8 million, a 12% increase on the same period last year. At the end of the first quarter, Zoom had approximately 198,900 enterprise customers, a 24% increase on the prior year’s quarter.

However, Stifel Nicolaus lowered its Zoom price target to $120, citing tough comparisons with 2021, but acknowledged the importance of the company’s enterprise business. “Going forward, we believe Zoom’s business will skew more towards the enterprise market, and the path to sustainable revenue growth will come via the emergence and adoption of newer solutions like Zoom Phone and Contact Center, which can drive expansion activity over time,” wrote Stifel’s J.Parker Lane.

In a subsequent note released earlier this month, the analyst explained that many Zoom customers who joined during the pandemic have started to reach “a maturity threshold” of about 18 months. “The company has noticed a strong correlation with high retention in the cohort compared to elevated churn levels in the first 3 months of a customer lifecycle,” wrote Lane. Stifel Nicolaus has a hold rating on Zoom.

See Now: Zoom Video workforce has nearly tripled in 2 years

Of 32 analysts surveyed by FactSet, 14 have overweight or buy ratings on Zoom and 18 have hold ratings. There hasn’t been an analyst bearish on the stock since April.

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