Roku Inc. shares (ROKU) rose 7% Monday, after BofA Merrill Lynch analysts started coverage of the stock with a buy rating and said the company should benefit from growing competition in the streaming space. Analysts led by Ziv Israel set a stock price target of $154, or about 8% above its current trading level. "While known primarily for selling streaming hardware, Roku has effectively shifted to generating the majority of revs through monetizing its user base, primarily through video ads," the analysts wrote in a note to clients. Expectations that a slew of new competitors that are launching streaming services in the near and medium term will have a negative impact on Roku are overdone, they wrote. The analysts are expecting the company's strong platform revenue growth to continue as advertisers switch to over-the-top services and Roku should also benefit from demand for affordable smart TVs, enabled by its Roku TV operating system. The company still enjoys strong brand recognition and is benefiting from demand for services like Netflix (NFLX), Disney+ (DIS), HBO (T) and Amazon Prime Video (AMZN), they wrote. Pending competition from Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Facebook (FB) is also overdone, they said. "We view the market reaction as excessively punitive, as total cost of ownership for both products is significantly higher than for the Roku device.," said the note. "Furthermore, Roku's TV OS is the most significant driver of account generation, reducing the importance of device sales to its growth trajectory." Roku shares have gained 369% in 2019, while the S&P 500 has gained about 21%.
-Ciara Linnane; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 28, 2019 11:00 ET (15:00 GMT)
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