Autodesk: An Unstoppable Growth Stock

Autodesk: An Unstoppable Growth Stock

Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) is one of the top-performing software stocks of all time. Shares are up almost 28,000% since it went public back in the 1980s, trouncing the overall U.S. market during that timespan. But don’t think it is too late to hop on the Autodesk train. The company just released its fiscal 2022 first-quarter earnings report, and the results showed again why it is one of the top growth stocks on the market. Here are four takeaways from the report.

A person working on something at a manufacturing plant.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Backlog is growing

In Autodesk’s fiscal Q1, which ended April 30, its revenue increased by 12% to $989 million, showing that its software solutions for the architecture, engineering, and construction industries are holding up as some parts of the world are slowly emerging from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billings, which revenue plus the net change in deferred revenue, grew 10% in the quarter as well. However, the most impressive metric was the growth of Autodesk’s backlog. Its remaining performance obligations (RPO), which represents revenue waiting to be recognized under existing contracts, increased 22% to $4.23 billion at the end of the quarter. This shows the predictability of Autodesk’s subscription model and the benefit of signing long-term contracts with its customers.

2. Fusion 360 continues to impress

Currently, Autodesk’s largest and fastest-growing business is its architecture, engineering, and construction segment. But it’s also making a big push to win market share within the manufacturing and mechanical engineering space with Fusion 360, a cloud-based design platform. Commercial subscriptions for Fusion 360 grew to 152,000 in the quarter, up from 140,000 in the prior quarter. 

Use of the platform is growing so quickly because it combines into one platform mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering modeling solutions that were historically disaggregated, and provides them for a low annual price of around $500 a year. (Most legacy solutions cost $1,000 a year, if not more.) Management still believes Fusion 360 has a long runway for growth ahead of it, stating on the conference call that they believe the platform has reached an “adoption tipping point” within the industry. 

With 152,000 subscribers paying a low cost of $500 a year for Fusion 360 (a price that doesn’t include extensions like 3D printing), the platform is only earning about $76 million annually — not a major revenue influx for a company that generated close to $1 billion last quarter alone. However, it shows that the cloud-based platform strategy is working to win customers away from legacy competitors like Dassault Systemes

3. Its new acquisitions are a perfect fit

In fiscal Q1, Autodesk made two acquisitions. One was Innovyze, a software analytics firm for the water utility and management industry, which it purchased for $1 billion. Innovyze is an ideal addition to what Autodesk calls its “digital twin” strategy, which basically means tracking projects digitally once they are completed and up and running. It will also be easy to sell Innovyze’s services to large municipalities and general contractors by bundling the software with popular Autodesk products like Revit, Civil 3D, and its construction cloud solutions.

Innovyze is also likely to be a huge beneficiary of Biden’s infrastructure bill, assuming it passes. In its current form, that spending plan allocates $111 billion to water infrastructure upgrades, which would provide a tailwind for spending on solutions like those offered by Innovyze.

Autodesk also acquired a small start-up called Upchain, which owns a cloud-based product lifecycle management (PLM) solution that will fit neatly into Autodesk’s manufacturing segment. PLM software helps all the stakeholders in complicated engineering projects manage a product’s evolution, hopefully saving money and reducing the time it takes to get that product to market. There’s also the possibility Upchain’s solution will work in tandem with Fusion 360 (or be bundled with it), further increasing Autodesk’s value proposition to its manufacturing, electrical, and mechanical engineering customers. 

4. Management reiterated its long-term guidance

From an investment perspective, the biggest takeaway from the fiscal Q1 report was management’s reiteration of its free cash flow guidance. Autodesk still expects to generate around $1.6 billion in free cash flow this fiscal year and $2.4 billion next year. With a market cap of $63 billion, Autodesk stock trades at a price-to-free-cash-flow (P/FCF) ratio of 39 based on its current year guidance and a P/FCF ratio of 26 relative to next year’s guidance.

With a large customer backlog and tons of growth opportunities ahead of it, there’s no reason Autodesk can’t hit or come close to that two-year guidance, and continue to increase its profitability over the next five years and beyond. That makes it one of the most reasonably priced growth stocks investors can buy at the moment. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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