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Why Salesforce, Splunk, Microsoft and Other SaaS Stocks Can Rocket Even Higher

Even though Inc. (CRM) , Splunk Inc. (SPLK) , Workday Inc. (WDAY) , Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and other enterprise software stocks that Evercore ISI follows have collectively gained 27% in the first half, analyst Kirk Materne suggests the shares could still climb in the second half.

Despite their gains, the Evercore analyst notes, many are still relatively inexpensive compared to their value before the cloud crash of early 2014, when a number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) stocks dropped precipitously after reaching high valuations.

"On average software companies are valued 7% lower than in January 2014," he wrote, noting that, ServiceNow Inc. (NOW) , Microsoft, Oracle Corp. (ORCL) , Imperva Inc. (IMPV) and CyberArk Software Ltd (CYBR) are his top picks for the second half.

The group gave back some of this year's gains on Thursday. Customer relationshiop management software group Salesforce closed down 0.9% at $89.57. Data analytics and security outfit Splunk dropped nearly 0.6% to $60.38. HR and financial management software developer Workday fell 0.7% to $102.22. Microsoft was one of the few gainers among the big enterprise software stocks, with an increase of nearly 0.9% to $71.77...