Now’s the time to buy ‘well-oiled machine’ Nasdaq exchange, Rosenblatt says

Nasdaq is more than just a tech company – it’s become a “well-oiled machine” under CEO Adena Friedman and is poised for strong growth in the future, according to Rosenblatt Securities. The firm initiated coverage of the exchange operator with a buy rating and a $241 price target, implying upside of more than 25% from Tuesday’s close of $191.59. “It’s focus on generating recurring SaaS revenue has driven multiple growth, but the continued strength of its core market services business built around the world’s leading corporate listings franchise has been the primary driver of success, in our view,” analyst Andrew Bond wrote in a Tuesday note. A winning exchange The company’s equity listing business is “the straw that stirs the drink” according to Bond. Nasdaq has continued to win market share from competitor ICE and has a competitive moat around the business. In the first half of the year, Nasdaq won 87% of all U.S. initial public offerings and 100% of tech initial public offerings, notching 34 quarterly wins, the analyst said. “The growth of the corporate listings business is increasingly creating cross-sell opportunities for NDAQ’s other core corporate services like IR, governance, ESG, surveillance and competitive insights,” Bond said. “As NDAQ wins more listings, the opportunity set across its other businesses grows.” Nasdaq’s market technology business also positions the company for growth in newer asset classes such as crypto. It can also capitalize on the need for further security and surveillance across financial services, according to the note. More room for gains Nasdaq’s current price is well above historical values for the stock, but Rosenblatt sees it as “richly deserved.” “We believe the stock has re-rated as a result of a successful ‘strategic pivot’ which has positioned NDAQ with higher multiple SAAS players,” said Bond, adding that the company’s moat around its equities business will continue to drive growth and allow it to maintain a higher multiple. Rosenblatt Securities also initiated coverage of CBOE with a buy rating and $153 price target, saying that the global exchange has found the right balance to maximize shareholder returns. The stock closed at about $119 per share Tuesday. Additionally, the firm initiated shares of CME with a sell rating, citing long-term threats to the business. –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting.

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