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JMP Securities downgrades LegalZoom stock amid CEO change and revenue cut

EditorEmilio Ghigini
Published 07/10/2024, 03:59 AM
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On Wednesday, JMP Securities adjusted its rating for LegalZoom.com Inc (NASDAQ:LZ) stock, moving from Market Outperform to Market Perform. The shift in rating follows significant developments within the company, including a change in leadership and a revision of revenue projections.

The online legal technology company announced a change at the helm with Dan Wernikoff stepping down and Jeff Stibel taking over as CEO. This executive shuffle comes as the company also revised its 2024 revenue guidance downward to $675-$685 million, a reduction from the previously stated $700-$720 million.

The analyst from JMP Securities acknowledged the business acumen of incoming CEO Jeff Stibel, who has a track record of selling multiple businesses. However, they noted that LegalZoom is at a strategic juncture, with approximately 40% of its business formation customers yet to commence operations. Despite finding the valuation of LegalZoom shares compelling, the analyst cited several reasons for the downgrade.

Increased competition in the market is leading to a loss of market share for LegalZoom. Additionally, the company's cost structure is becoming more optimized, which may limit opportunities for further margin expansion. The analyst also expressed concerns about a less certain product roadmap for the future.

LegalZoom's current trading valuation, with a 7.1% free cash flow yield for the year 2025 based on JMP Securities' below-consensus estimates, was highlighted. Nevertheless, the combination of these factors has led to a more cautious outlook on the stock, prompting the downgrade to Market Perform.

In other recent news, LegalZoom has seen significant developments. JPMorgan has downgraded LegalZoom's stock from Overweight to Neutral, reducing the price target to $9 from $14.

This follows the sudden departure of former CEO Dan Wernikoff, with Chairman Jeffrey Stibel stepping in as the new CEO. LegalZoom also revised its full-year revenue forecast to $675 million to $685 million.

The company reported a 5% overall revenue increase year-over-year to $174 million in Q1 2024, driven by a 10% growth in subscription revenue. The board has expanded its stock repurchase program, approving an additional $75 million, raising the total authorized amount to $175 million.

Analysts from JMP Securities and Barclays Capital Inc. have given LegalZoom an Outperform and Overweight rating respectively. These recent developments reflect LegalZoom's strategic focus on optimizing its product lineup and expanding its attorney network and legal offerings.

InvestingPro Insights

In light of the recent downgrade by JMP Securities, it's pertinent to look at LegalZoom.com Inc (NASDAQ:LZ) through the lens of current financial metrics and analyst insights provided by InvestingPro. The company's market capitalization stands at approximately $1.48 billion, and it is trading at a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 70.45, which adjusts to 61.88 when looking at the last twelve months as of Q1 2024. Despite a challenging period, LegalZoom holds more cash than debt on its balance sheet, which is a positive sign of financial health.

InvestingPro Tips indicate that management has been actively buying back shares, a move that often reflects confidence in the company's future. Moreover, LegalZoom is trading at a low price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio relative to near-term earnings growth, with a PEG ratio of 0.4 for the last twelve months as of Q1 2024, suggesting that the stock may be undervalued based on its growth potential.

However, it's not all positive, as 8 analysts have revised their earnings downwards for the upcoming period, signaling potential headwinds. Additionally, the company's stock has been under pressure, trading near its 52-week low and experiencing a significant price fall over the last three months.

For readers interested in a deeper dive into LegalZoom's potential and to access additional InvestingPro Tips, a visit to https://www.investing.com/pro/LZ is recommended. There are 17 additional tips available, which can provide further insights into the company's financial health and future prospects. To enhance your investment decision-making, use the coupon code PRONEWS24 to get up to 10% off a yearly Pro and a yearly or biyearly Pro+ subscription.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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