Instead, the best-performing stock in 2018 has been little known gaming headset company Turtle Beach (NASDAQ:HEAR). Thanks to huge tailwinds in the battle royale gaming community from mega-hits like Fortnite, Turtle Beach has been selling a ton of gaming headsets in 2018. Margins have improved alongside enhanced top-line performance, and earnings growth has come roaring back.
All together, HEAR stock is up more than 1,600% so far in 2018.
Yes, you read that right. HEAR stock is up more than 1,600% through the first eight months of 2018.
This red-hot stock isn’t showing any signs of cooling off, either. Turtle Beach just reported robust double-beat second-quarter numbers that were simply jaw-dropping. We are talking 200%-plus revenue growth, and ever bigger profit growth. HEAR stock jumped in response to those solid numbers.
But, even though I’ve been bullish on this stock for the past several months, I think this most recent pop is actually an opportunity to do some profit taking. Battle royale and Fortnite tailwinds will ease over the next several months. Granted, esports and super-charged video game interest will keep growth healthy in a long-term window. But, here and now, HEAR stock has sprinted ahead of fundamentals and needs to reset.
Here’s a deeper look.
Turtle Beach Is on Fire
There really is no other way to put it. Turtle Beach is absolutely on fire right now.
Everyone thought the numbers were amazing last quarter when revenues increased 185%. But, as it turns out, that wasn’t even the mountain top. This quarter, battle royale tailwinds actually accelerated, and Turtle Beach reported revenue growth of 218%.
At the core of this growth is Fortnite. In case you haven’t heard, Fornite is the the hottest game in the market right now. Due to its battle royale nature, communication in the game is a necessity, and therefore, as Fortnite play has soared higher, so has demand for video game headsets. Indeed, the whole video game headset market in the U.S. and Canada is up nearly 90% year-to-date, according to Turtle Beach management.
Within that big growth market, Turtle Beach is growing market share. Year-over-year, Turtle Beach’s share in the video game headset market has grown 570 basis points from 39.8% to 45.5%. This big-time share expansion in a red-hot market is what’s driving the 200%-plus revenue growth rates.
Moreover, gross margins are improving, and the spending rate is dramatically falling thanks to improved scale. Overall, profits are soaring, and the long-term outlook for earnings growth looks as promising as ever.
Long-Term Growth Is Good, But Not Great
Looking out over the next several years, it becomes clear current tailwinds powering 200%-plus revenue growth won’t last forever.
Video games are fads. They come and go in popularity, and usually last anywhere from a few months to a few years. Thus, this year’s Fortnite jump isn’t sustainable, and growth rates should moderate going forward.
That being said, growth should still remain healthy. The whole video game market is entering somewhat of a golden era right now. Video games are getting upgrades thanks to new mobile and AR/VR technology. Plus, esports is turning gaming into a global community with both players and spectators. Also, the transition to esports should help sustain demand for gaming headsets, because turning something into a team sport inherently implies the need for communication.
All together, the gaming headset market is expected to grow at a 7% annualized rate over the next several years. As the premiere gaming headset company, it is also likely that Turtle Beach marginally grows share in this market. As such, revenue growth over the next several years should be in the 7-10% range. During that stretch, improved top-line performance should drive the gross margin rate up to historical highs of around 37.5%, while also driving the spending rate down to historical lows of about 15-20%.
Under those assumptions, I think that Turtle Beach can do about $2.50 in earnings-per-share in five years. A market-average 16X forward multiple on that implies a four-year forward price target of $40. Discounted back by 10% per year, that equates to a year-end price target for HEAR stock of roughly $30.
Bottom Line on HEAR Stock
HEAR stock is up 1,600% year-to-date. At some point, this rally has to take a breather. I think that point is now. I realistically see HEAR stock finishing the year around $30, implying sideways trading over the next several months.
Thereafter, though, HEAR stock should be able to rally to $40 over the subsequent three-to-four years thanks to healthy secular tailwinds in the gaming headset market.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long AAPL.