October 08, 2015 - 11:57pm EST by
2015 2016
Price: 45.90 EPS 0.67 -0.45
Shares Out. (in M): 226 P/E 70.53 na
Market Cap (in $M): 10,383 P/FCF na na
Net Debt (in $M): 904 EBIT 236 -140
TEV (in $M): 9,479 TEV/EBIT 41.49 0

Sign up for free guest access to view investment idea with a 45 days delay.

  • winner


(Note that ADSK’s fiscal year 2016 ends on Jan 31, 2016)


1.       Autodesk is a high quality growing recurring-revenue software business at a compelling valuation because of complicated financials, investor fatigue, and a go-to-market strategy transformation.

2.       My 1-year price target is $59 or a 25% upside from today’s price based on a 25x multiple of FY20 free cash flows (given the high quality of the business and its teens revenue growth) discounted to a year from today. Furthermore, there is the potential for significantly higher returns if an activist comes and reduces opex/repurchases shares.

3.       Annualized Recurring Revenue (ARR) should grow through FY2020 at a 24% CAGR, driven by

a.       3% Annualized Revenue per subscription driven by CPI price increases and transition to higher value subscriptions (EBA, cloud, desktop) which are 26% more expensive than just maintenance costs ($691 vs. $548)

b.      20% Subscriptions CAGR from 2.6m at the end of FY16 to 5.4m at the end of FY20 driven by

                                                               i.      Conversion of existing customers

1.       $1bn of historical perpetual license revenue will become EBA, Desktop subscription, or cloud subscription. This translates to 400-600k subscriptions per year.

                                                             ii.      30% conversion of 2.8m active non-paying subscribers

                                                            iii.      Additional customers from organic growth and as lower priced software appeals to a larger audience.

1.       Although lifetime values are higher for ADSK, lower upfront subscription costs drive increases in subscriptions counts.

2.       Lower piracy and mobile access to cloud also improves subscription counts.

4.       At the end of the transitions, at the beginning of FY20, forward margins will be 22%, FCF per share will be $2.93 (net of SBC), and the stock will trade at $74 or an 21% IRR from today. The stock will trade at a 25x forward cash flow multiple because there will be additional upside in operating margins (after-SBC) (projected to increase 1000 bps from 16% in FY2020 to 26% in FY 2022) and the company has a teens-level growth rate.

Reason for the opportunity:

1.       Short-term investors may not like that the company’s financials will look worse in FY 2017 than FY 2016:

a.       As a result of the transition from high-initial cost perpetual sales to lower-initial cost subscription sales, revenues will decline in FY17 and operating leverage will make earnings go negative next year.

b.      Additionally, billings, which is a metric investors monitor closely, will also decline (because of the same dynamics as the revenue decrease)

2.       In its Q2 earnings Autodesk reduced guidance as a result of a faster transition and weakness in some verticals which caused the stock to trade down

3.       The stock has gotten hurt with the market as a lot of hedge-fund owned names were sold down.

Business Summary:

Autodesk serves customers in the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, digital media, consumer, and entertainment industries. It allows users to do Computer-aided design (CAD) of digital prototypes and is critical in many companies’ workflow. It sells its products through its four segments:

1.       Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (“AEC”) -- 35% of net revenue last fiscal year

2.       Platform Solutions and Emerging Business (“PSEB”) – 32% of revenues last fiscal year

3.       Manufacturing (“MFG”) – 27% of revenues last fiscal year

4.       Media & Entertainment (“M&E”) – 6% of revenues last year

Business Transition:

Autodesk will stop the sale of perpetual licenses and begin moving all its customers over to three “New Model” subscription models: EBA (Enterprise Business Agreements), Cloud, and Desktop. It will completely stop selling perpetual licenses in Q3-FY 17.

1.       New Model will surpass Maintenance in both ARR and Subs by FY18

2.       Nearly all of product sales after Q2 FY 17 will be Desktop, Cloud, and EBA subscriptions.

Autodesk has three types of customers: Enterprise, SMBs, and Very Small Businesses (VSBs):

1.       Enterprise: Autodesk is converting these customers with dedicated consulting, adoption, and support teams who have deep engagements with their customers.

2.       SMB: The Company is converting these through specialized partners and resellers. In Q2 FY 16, 21% of new seats sold by VARs were subscription seats. Partners sell 58% of desktop subscriptions.

3.       VSB: ADSK is converting these customer through low-touch and self-serve channels. 39% of new seats by Volume Channel Partners were Desktop Subscriptions, and 87% on the eStore were subscriptions.

There are multiple indicators that customers are adapting the subscription model:

1.       LT Family: In Q2 FY16, for the LT family suite, ARR increased 35% with a 7% ARPS Growth and a 27% growth in number of subscriptions yoy. 40% of non-subscribers are LT.

2.       Since Q2-FY15, 22 of the largest customers moved from Maintenance to Token-Flex resulting in a 90% overall increase in enterprise ARR yoy.

3.       AutoCAD: if just 20% of AutoCAD non-subscribers were converted, the AutoCAD business would show 45% ARR growth and 21% Subscription growth.

Below are the company’s subscription growth numbers which indicate management’s success in migrating their clients over:

Total Subscriptions (thousands)   Q1-FY15 Q2-FY15 Q3-FY15 Q4-FY15 Q1-FY16 Q2-FY16
Maintenance subs            1,837          1,882          1,976          2,013          2,058          2,070
  q/q Incremental Maintenance Subs                    45                94                37                45                12
New model subs               102             130             158             220             270             319
  q/q Incremental New Model Subs                    28                28                62                50                49
  Total Subscriptions            1,939          2,012          2,134          2,233          2,328          2,389
Acquired New Model Subs                   -                   -                  25                17                 -                   -  
  q/q Incremental New Model Subs ex-acqs                    28                  3                45                50                49

Other companies that have made the decision to transition to subscription have outperformed the S&P 500 by an average of 90% (cumulative) including Adobe, Intuit, and Cadence under new management.

1.       A typical 50 seat account shows a 1.25-1.5x increase in ARR moving from Network Maintenance to Multi-User subscription

2.       A typical 5 seat account shows a 1.5-2x increase in ARR moving from Maintenance to Single-User subscription

Subscriptions cost 30-40% the amount of a perpetual license but the perpetual license pays 15-20% per year as maintenance.

Calculated Upside Sources:

1.       Revenue normalization once a majority of revenue comes from subscriptions.

2.       Margin expansion from channel shift. In FY15 about 15% of sales were direct and by FY20 ~25% of sales will be direct resulting in a margin uplift. Also S&M expenses should decrease as an increasing percentage of the company’s revenues become recurring.

Over-time, management projected the margins will increase as follows:

Fiscal Year Guidance Midpoint   2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
  GAAP Operating Margin   -2% -27% -13% 5% 13% 20% 23%
  Stock-based compensation   8% 11% 10% 8% 8% 7% 6%
  Amortization of purchased intangibles   3% 5% 4% 3% 3% 3% 3%
    Non-GAAP operating margin   10% -11% 1% 16% 24% 30% 32%
    Stock-based compensation   -8% -11% -10% -8% -8% -7% -6%
    Enright Operating Margin   2% -22% -9% 8% 16% 23% 26%

Further Upside Sources:

1.       Activist involvement is likely because

a.       Underperformed major indices: over the past 5 years, ADSK has returned 50%, vs. 100% for the Nasdaq and 73% for the S&P 500. Over the last 1 year, the stock is down 17% while the S&P is up in the low single digits and the Nasdaq is up

b.      Company is famously spendthrifty with some of the nicest offices in San Francisco and repeated misses on opex by management.

c.       Room to repurchase shares which its shareholders are urging it to do.

2.       Autodesk Cloud creates a much larger TAM ($25b) for Autodesk in the following areas:

a.       Simulation

                                                               i.      $3.2b opportunity based on 3m+ subscribers.

                                                             ii.      Cloud opens up this opportunity because previously only the largest customers could afford advanced simulation and the associated hardware but now with a cloud model many more customers can afford to use simulation software on a pay per use model.

b.      PLM (Product Lifecycle Management): $4bn opportunity based on 10m+ subscribers

c.       Advanced Manufacturing: $3.6b opportunity with 1m+ subscribers

d.      Construction

                                                               i.      $6b opportunity with 100m+ subscribers.

                                                             ii.      Construction is an attractive market as a result of being able to serve more customers on a construction site with mobile devices, and the construction industries’ increasing technological embrace. The industry needs better materials management, schedule management, and productivity.

                                                            iii.      ADSK is targeting this market with its BIM 360 tool.

e.      IoT (Internet of Things)

                                                               i.      $6B opportunity with 10m+ subscribers

                                                             ii.      Growing IoT ecosystem results in more opportunity for ADSK to build the CAD tools for it

f.        Design and Engineering

                                                               i.      $5.7B opportunity with 4m+ subscribers

g.       Overall, 86% of Fusion 360 (product design) customers are new to ADSK. The same percentages for HSM Works, PLM 360, BIM 360 and Infraworks 360 were 57%, 46%, 8%, and 8%. These statistics show that the company is still growing in a healthy way.

3.       Shift to cloud eliminates piracy because it is significantly harder to pirate cloud software

4.       Company finds a way to deploy offshore cash accretively given the board is currently discussing this

KPIs to watch:

1.       Annual Recurring Revenue

2.       Opex should grow 5-6% annually as management spends on  developing their cloud offering

3.       Billings (although those will be volatile because of the business model transition)


1.       Management mis-execution and lack of expense discipline

2.       The company is unable to convert enough

3.       The TAM is smaller than the subscriber counts described above

I do not hold a position of employment, directorship, or consultancy with the issuer.
I and/or others I advise hold a material investment in the issuer's securities.



I do not hold a position with the issuer such as employment, directorship, or consultancy.
I and/or others I advise hold a material investment in the issuer's securities.


Execution on business model transformation execution, financials become easier to read once the transformation is complete

    show   sort by    
      Back to top