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While the cloud stocks have seen a tremendous bull move for a while, there are some operators that have missed out. Just look at Box Inc (NYSE: BOX ). The company's shares are about even for the year. In fact, during the past three years, the return for BOX stock is a measly 7% or so.
To put this in perspective, during this time, ServiceNow Inc (NYSE: NOW ) has gained 27%, while salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE: CRM ) has returned 21%. There have also been a variety of red-hot IPOs, such as Zscaler Inc (NASDAQ: ZS ) and Okta Inc (NASDAQ: OKTA ).
So what's going on with BOX stock? And might there be a value opportunity here? Well, first of all, there are certainly legitimate issues.
Perhaps the most important is the competitive environment. Note that Box Inc must fight against rivals like Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT ), Open Text Corp (USA) (NASDAQ: OTEX ), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL , NASDAQ: GOOG ) and Dropbox Inc. (NASDAQ: DBX ).
Here's how Box's 10-K describes the situation:
"The market for cloud content management services is fragmented, rapidly evolving and highly competitive, with relatively low barriers to entry for certain applications and services. Many of our competitors and potential competitors are larger and have greater name recognition, substantially longer operating histories, larger marketing budgets and significantly greater resources than we do."
And unfortunately, as seen with the latest earnings report, it looks like the competition is taking a toll. For the full year, the growth on the top line is expected to range from 19% to 20% (based on the new accounting standards). Actually, a couple years ago, the growth was over 40%.
The Pros on BOX Stock
Even with the competition, investors should still keep in mind that the market opportunity is massive. The spending on collaborative applications, content management and public cloud storage is expected to hit a whopping $50 billion by next year. So yes, there is room for a multitude of players in the market.
Something else is that Box has continued to innovate its platform. Some of the features include seamless mobile access, the ability to manage virtually any kind of data, enterprise-grade security and a comprehensive data governance system. Then again, it helps that Box has built a completely cloud-based architecture that makes its easier to add functionality.
Yet the company realizes it cannot do everything. This is why Box has its own app development system, which allows for custom apps and better integration. Note that there are over 100,000 developers.
Given all this, it should be no surprise that Box has amassed a substantial customer base, at over 82,000 businesses. The company's technology is also strategic, as about 60% of revenues come from customers with over 2,000 employees.
Bottom Line on Box Stock
BOX stock could ultimately prove to be an attractive buyout candidate. As seen with CRM's mega deal for Mulesoft Inc (NYSE: MULE ), there is interest in buying companies that have strong technology platforms and large customer bases. No doubt, BOX fits the bill.
Besides, the valuation on the stock is reasonable, with the shares trading at 5.6X. It's common to see other operators at twice this level. And even though the growth has slowed down, it is still robust, and there is definitely more room justify a better multiple on BOX stock.
Tom Taulli is the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies , All About Commodities and All About Short Selling . Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli . As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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