Keysight Technologies (NYSE:KEYS) may not be a household name as compared to well-known companies such as Apple, Qualcomm, or Broadcom in the fifth-generation (5G) wireless network space, but it has beaten those illustrious names handsomely in terms of stock price performance in 2021.
Keysight’s impressive upside isn’t surprising, as its network testing equipment is critical to the deployment of 5G networks across the globe. This is the reason the company has been witnessing a sharp spike in orders for its test and measurement equipment this year, which is evident from its results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 released on Nov. 22, 2021.
Let’s look at Keysight’s latest quarterly performance and see why this is a 5G stock you may want to buy right now.
Keysight Technologies’ order book has swelled nicely
Keysight’s fiscal fourth-quarter revenue increased 5% year over year to $1.29 billion on a core basis, excluding the impact of foreign currency changes and revenue from businesses acquired or divested in the past year. The company’s non-GAAP net income increased 12.3% year over year to $1.82 per share during the quarter.
The company’s earnings surpassed the consensus estimate of $1.65 per share, which means that it has now beaten Wall Street’s expectations for four straight quarters. Keysight recorded a 15% increase in core revenue for the full year to $4.94 billion, while adjusted net income increased 28% over the prior year. The good part is that Keysight can sustain its impressive momentum in the new fiscal year thanks to a swelling order book.
Keysight’s orders increased 21% in Q4 to $1.49 billion, outpacing its actual revenue growth for the period. It is also worth noting that its Q4 orders increased at a faster pace compared to the full-year order growth of 18%. The company recorded $5.36 billion worth of new orders in fiscal 2021, and it is entering the new fiscal year with a record order backlog of more than $2 billion.
However, supply chain constraints that are impacting the broader semiconductor industry will weigh on Keysight’s near-term performance. This is evident from the company’s guidance that calls for $1.23 billion in revenue and $1.53 per share in earnings at the midpoint of the range in the first quarter despite a much bigger order backlog. The company pointed out on its earnings conference call that “supply chain constraints continue to moderate shipment expectations” despite a robust demand environment.
Keysight expects the supply chain environment to remain tight in the first half of 2022. As a result, the company’s full-year guidance seems muted; it expects earnings growth of just 10% on revenue growth of 6% to 7%. However, investors should focus on the bigger picture, because the demand for Keysight’s network test solutions could remain strong for a long time to come.
Built for long-term growth
Keysight saw record demand for 5G solutions in the fiscal fourth quarter thanks to fast-growing applications such as O-RAN (open radio access network), higher data center spending, and the deployment of high-speed cloud infrastructure based on 400G and 800G networks. The company can continue enjoying rapid order growth in these areas for a few simple reasons.
For instance, the O-RAN market is expected to clock annual growth of 83% through 2028 and hit $21.3 billion in revenue at the end of the forecast period, according to a third-party estimate. That’s not surprising, as O-RAN will play an important role in the 5G rollout, reducing the time to market and the cost of operating the network.
Meanwhile, Mordor Intelligence estimates that the global 5G infrastructure market is set to grow 53% a year through 2026. Keysight is well placed to take advantage of this fast-growing opportunity thanks to its relationships with key players such as NXP, NEC, MediaTek, Samsung, Dell, and Qualcomm that are using its solutions to roll out faster networks.
These tailwinds indicate why Keysight’s earnings could grow at nearly 14% a year over the next five years, according to analysts’ estimates, which means that its bottom-line growth could pick up the pace in the long run. As such, don’t be surprised to see Keysight sustain its momentum and head higher in the future thanks to the rapid growth in the markets in which it operates.
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.