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Jefferies Downgrades Adobe Systems to Hold

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On Thursday, Jefferies downgraded diversified software company Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE) from Buy to Hold.

Jefferies said that its downgrade is based on higher near-term revenue risk due to potentially stronger Creative Cloud subscription adoption on promotional pricing; a downtick in Creative Professional growth expectations; and a CS6 cycle where adoption looks consistent to only modestly better than recent cycles.

"Following our most recent survey work, we have some incremental concerns on revenue estimates given what could be higher adoption of Creative Cloud subscriptions due to a first year 40% price promotion, a downtick from Creative Professionals on their business outlook and our own modest expectations on the impact of new user growth," said Jefferies analyst Ross MacMillan.

However, MacMillan also said that, should Adobe make a faster shift to subscriptions, the company will ultimately create better visibility and potentially lifetime value per customer. In addition, revenue per subscriber should increase next year as first year promotions roll off. However, the key question of new user growth remains.

The downgrade came on the same day that Adobe Systems announced the release of a new version of its web conferencing software, called Adobe Connect 9.

Adobe Connect 9 is powered by Adobe CQ Web content management and Adobe SiteCatalyst online analytics, and it enables the development of customized event micro-sites and emails, as well as the delivery of interactive events for up to 1,500 users, and the measurement of campaign and speaker effectiveness.

On Tuesday, Adobe announced that it will be streaming this summer's London Olympics thanks to technology to help stream live events for global mobile users. Adobe is now looking to make a similar deal to stream the Super Bowl.

"The two aspirations we had when we started Adobe Media Server were the Olympics and live streaming of the Super Bowl," said David Wadhwani, senior vice president and general manager of Adobe's digital media business unit.

On Thursday, Adobe Systems was trading at about $32, down roughly 1%.

Follow me @BCallwood.

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