The COVID pandemic may be receding, but it has left a mark on across multiple aspects of our lives. From mask mandates to travel restrictions, we chafe at some of the changes – but in the business world the use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems has dramatically expanded in the past year. This was probably inevitable – but AI brought advantages in coping with the pandemic for companies that could make use of it, and the expansion accelerated.
AI has found its place in a huge range of applications, at both the front and back end of businesses. It’s prevalent in software management and data systems, as well as in communications, where AI systems filter emails and conduct robochats.
And this has not been ignored by Wall Street. Analysts say that plenty of compelling investments can be found within this space. With this in mind, we’ve opened up TipRanks’ database, and pulled two stocks which are stand to benefit from AI technology. Importantly, both have amassed enough bullish calls from analysts to be given “Strong Buy” consensus ratings.
Nuance Communications (NUAN)
We’ll start with Nuance, a company in the communications software niche. This Massachusetts-based company offers solutions for business clients in the healthcare and customer service industries, with products that enhance speech recognition, telephone call steering systems, automated phone directories, medical transcription, and optical character recognition. It’s a full range of AI-powered, cloud communications software, applied in real time.
Nuance’s flagship product, the Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) is marketed to the healthcare industry, where it uses AI to automate the paperwork burdens on physician practices and hospitals. This streamlines operations allow doctors more time and resources to spend on patients, and provides greater satisfaction to health care providers and users.
The applications of Nuance’s product and solution lines to the current environment is clear: when the pandemic locked down so many people at home, businesses still had to maintain their customer-facing systems, and software automation, based on AI tech, made that possible with fewer personnel. Since the pandemic started last winter, the company seen its shares grow tremendously, up 205% in the last 12 months, far outpacing the overall stock market.
The most recent quarterly report, for fiscal Q1, showed quarterly revenues above the forecast at $81.4 million. EPS showed a net loss, as expected, but at 27 cents the loss was a 28% sequential improvement from Q3. The company’s balance sheet is strong, with zero debt, $256 million cash on hand, and a credit facility up to $50 million.
The company’s most recent quarterly report, for fiscal Q1, beat the forecasts on both the top and bottom lines. Earnings beat expectations by 11%, coming in at 20 cents per share, while revenues of $345.8 million were a modest 2% above the estimates. As a result, operating cash flow grew 22% year-over-year, to $54.6 million for the quarter.
Dynatrace, Inc. (DT)
The second AI stock we’ll look at, Dynatrace, is another cloud software company – but Dynatrace’s products are designed to power business data. The company’s AI platform brings intelligent automation to network management and cloud monitoring. DT’s platform allows for cloud automation, business analytics, digital experience, application security, applications and microservices, and infrastructure monitoring. It’s sold as a one-stop-shop for network and system managers seeking an intelligent software agent.
Dynatrace’s shares have been showing consistent growth over a long term. The stock is up a robust 133% in the past 12 months, and revenues have also been growing over that period.
In the most recent report, for Q3 fiscal year 2021, the company showed $182.9 million in top-line revenue, beating the forecast by ~6% and growing 27% year-over-year. EPS came in at 6 cents, flat from Q2 and far better than the break-even reported for the year-ago quarter.
Three key metrics stand out in the quarterly report, and both for the right reasons. Subscription revenue grew 33% year-over-year, to reach $170.3 million, and annual recurring revenue (ARR) – which is an important predictor of future performance – grew 35% yoy and came in at $722 million. At the same time, license revenue dropped by more than 93%, to just $300,000. Taken all together, these results point toward a strong shift toward recurring cloud customers – a common trend in the software space.
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