After a nearly two-year saga of chief executive musical chairs, analysts say ServiceNow ($NOW) is one of the winners, and that it could nearly quadruple revenues in the years ahead - and grow share price by 10% in 2020.
Here's a fast version of how the CEO saga unfolded, first: In early 2018, Nike CEO Mark Parker abruptly resigned, creating a vacuum atop the world's leading sneaker company and in fall of last year John Donahoe, who was at the time CEO of ServiceNow, stepped in to lead the Oregon-based company. That, in turn, created a vacancy at ServiceNow, which was surprisingly filled by veteran SAP CEO Bill McDermott. And, that, is who UBS analysts who wrote the bank's "20 stocks for 2020" report are so pumped up about.
"[T]he appointment of Bill McDermott as CEO can accelerate the shift upmarket as McDermott leverages experience and contacts gained during his time running SAP," UBS executive director Jennifer Lowe wrote in the note dated December 17. "We think ServiceNow is still early in its growth opportunity."
But there are other factors that should have analysts and investors alike psyched. For one, ServiceNow's LinkedIn ($MSFT) Employee Headcount tracks a consistent growth pattern of about 25% for 2019, and based on our most recent check of ServiceNow's annual reports, the data match one another fairly closely. It doesn't seem like ServiceNow slowed its roll, when its CEO hit the bricks. UBS analysts think ServiceNow revenue can shoot up from around $2.6 billion, at most recent annual tally, to $10 billion by 2025 - and it will need to keep staffing up this way in order to achieve that goal.
Job postings is one area where there could have been signals of a slowdown - but ServiceNow data signals hiring is hitting a years-long peak. In 2017, job postings were down slightly, and grew more than 50% over 2018 before adding another 11.5% this past year (after taking a big dip leading up to the temporary leadership vacuum). Taken with its continually-increasing LinkedIn chart, it's safe to say ServiceNow is staffing up and that - to UBS' point "broad adoption with large enterprise customers" is supporting growth. When alternative data backs up the market chatter, it's usually a good sign - but we'll know more when ServiceNow reports its earnings January 29.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.