Climbing to New Heights

Just when you thought the news couldn’t get much better for our stock market, along comes a powerful jobs report last week that seems to indicate that some of the corporate wealth accumulating over the past five years is now translating into more jobs for Americans.

To be precise that is 321,000 more jobs, far above the 230,000 jobs most economists expected. That brought the unemployment rate down to 5.8% which is as low as it has been since the onset of “The Great Recession” almost six years ago.

While that may be indifferent news for the tech sector in that its fortunes are not closely tied to the labor market, it is good news for the economy as a whole. And if more people are earning paychecks, then that’s more consumers who can afford to buy new smartphones, tablets, and all the other cool gadgets that are hitting the market this time of the year.

That’s just one of the reasons why we believe the tech sector is different – in a much better way – from all of the other sectors that comprise our total economy. Unlike the others, technology is so integral to everything we do that it is almost impossible for it to become out of favor. In stark contrast, most of the energy sector is taking a beating right now due to rapidly declining oil prices.

Last week a major financial publication named the jet engine as having the greatest impact on the world over past 85 years. Excuse me? While no one can argue that international travel certainly has benefited from the emergence of jet air travel, it is absurd to suggest that the invention of the microprocessor has not had a greater impact of the world.

There is no limit to the number of people whose lives have been positively impacted by the microprocessor, and almost no limit to the number of ways it has been used to enhance productivity in virtually every form of industry and recreation. The jet engine, in contrast, is essentially used in only one industry, and in only one way: To make planes fly further and faster.

In next week’s issue of Smart Tech Investor I will recap the performance of our portfolio, which should make clear the superiority of the tech sector as an investor’s ideal hunting ground for great investment opportunities. And this isn’t a short term phenomenon; we believe the tech sector will continue to lead the stock market for years to come.

That’s one of the reasons why I invite you to join me and the rest of the Investing Daily analyst team at our annual Investing Summit five months from now. For two days we will all gather in Denver, Colorado to discuss our thoughts on the market, and where the best profit opportunities are for you.

At the 2013 Summit I singled out Western Digital (WDC) as my top tech stock recommendation when it was trading at $60; it crested over $100 in less than a year and a half. At this year’s Summit I named NICE Systems (NICE) as my top tech stock when it was priced near $40, and it is now approaching $50 only seven months later. In other words, it will be worth your time to attend.

We reserve the first 100 seats to this event for our Wealth Society members thru December 1st, but since that date has passed you are now eligible to join us. If you’d like to find out more, please take a moment to visit the Summit website.

NASDAQ Composite Index:                                                                     

Friday, December 5 = 4,780.76                                            

Year to Date = + 15.4%                                               

Trailing 7 Days = – 0.3%                                    

Trailing 4 Weeks = + 2.2%

Next Wave Portfolio Update—Marketo Sets Goals for 2015

By Rob DeFrancesco

At the Credit Suisse tech conference last week, Marketo (MKTO) CEO Phil Fernandez said one of the company’s main goals for next year is to continue to expand the monetization of the installed base of 3,500 customers. Marketo is making good progress here, as its subscription dollar retention rate in the third quarter of 108% improved from 105% in the previous quarter.

With an expanded portfolio of solutions now available on the company’s cloud-based marketing-automation platform, Marketo has more opportunities to up-sell into established accounts in the core business-to-business (B2B) segment as well as in the newer business-to-consumer (B2C) segment.

On the B2B side, Oracle (ORCL) is Marketo’s only real direct competitor, and also a main source of potential new accounts. On the B2C side, Marketo’s solutions are gaining traction because they have a quick ROI and are effective in enabling clients to improve interaction and engagement with their own customers.

From a verticals perspective, the technology industry was the original adopter of marketing automation solutions, but Marketo now has a tremendous diversity of customers across various industries. During the past two quarters, the company started to hire salespeople based on their expertise in specific verticals. Going forward, Marketo will work to expand its sales force specialization in order to help drive top-line growth.

With the addition in October of Steve Winter as executive VP of worldwide sales, Marketo has started to focus more on the enterprise segment, as opposed to just mid-market accounts. Winter, hired away from SAP (SAP), has more than two decades of experience in software sales. While only at Marketo for a short period, Winter has already been able to “elevate the dialog” with respect to sales into global organizations, according to Fernandez.

Since enterprise transactions generally tend to be larger than those in the mid-market, Marketo already has a jumpstart on another of its goals for 2015: driving bigger deal sizes. Most larger enterprises already are well aware of the benefits of marketing automation, so Marketo’s sales teams have to spend less time evangelizing to try to get deals closed. In the latest quarter, sales into the enterprise accounted for 28% of the company’s subscription revenue, leaving a lot of room for upside.

Panasonic Systems is one large customer that has seen success on the Marketo platform. Since implementing the company’s solutions in April 2013, Panasonic Systems, which generates 72% of its business via B2B sales, has been able to increase the output of marketing campaigns five-fold without having to increase its marketing budget or headcount. Panasonic Systems now uses Marketo in 25 countries to help expand direct sales into larger accounts, improve cross-sell opportunities and gain greater efficiency from channel partners.

Another of Marketo’s goals for 2015 is to continue to build out its partnerships with important systems integrators, including Accenture and Deloitte. These consulting firms have established relationships with many large enterprises and are capable of getting Marketo in front of plenty of potential customers worldwide.

Marketo remains a ‘Buy’ in the Next Wave Portfolio up to $30 a share.