In the stock market, momentum is a very real thing. That is, stocks that have been hot tend to remain hot, and stocks that have been cold tend to remain cold. Indeed, according to research from Professor Hendrik Bessembinder of Arizona State University, the top 4% of listed companies have accounted for the entire net gain of the U.S. stock market since 1926, while the other 96% have produced buy-and-hold returns roughly equivalent with U.S. Treasury bonds.
In other words, winning stocks do all the winning. The investment implication? Buy winning stocks.
But, what do you do when a winning stock loses its stride? That is exactly what has happened to these five hot stocks. For the past several years, each one of them has been on fire, posting returns that have smashed index returns. But, over the past few months, each one of these winning stocks has also hit some turbulence, which has caused shares to plummet and underperform in a big way.
What should investors do with these hot stocks that have gone ice cold? Does long-term positive momentum override short-term negative momentum? Or is yesterday’s positive momentum turning into tomorrow’s negative momentum?
It’s a case-by-case situation. As such, let’s take a look at five hot stocks that have gone ice cold over the past few months and see where they are going next.
Ice Cold Stocks: Shopify (SHOP)
Trailing 3-Year Gain: 642%
Percent Off 2019 Highs: 20%
A massive pivot towards direct retail over the past several years, coupled with a rise in entrepreneurial, do-it-yourself consumer attitudes, has powered robust revenue growth at e-commerce solutions provider Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) as more and more retailers and merchants are building online store fronts. This huge revenue growth has been the fuel behind Shopify stock’s 640% gain over the past three years.
But, Shopify stock has hit some turbulence in 2019. Shares have dropped about 20% over the past few months as investors have reassessed the interest rate outlook (low rates have helped support a euphoric valuation for SHOP stock) amid mixed economic signals. This reassessment has led to investors pricing SHOP stock a bit more cautiously today than they were pricing it over the summer.
What’s next for SHOP stock? This is a case where long-term positive momentum will return to the stock. The secular growth narrative here is too good. Shopify is still a relatively small company with enough tailwinds and firepower to keep growing at a big rate for a lot longer. It’s unlikely for SHOP stock to stay depressed for a long time. The current valuation adjustment to higher rates will end. Once it does, the stock will start marching higher again.
Trailing 3-Year Gain: 159%
Percent Off 2019 Highs: 27%
Much like shares of Shopify, shares of cloud communications platform Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) have soared over the past three years thanks to secular digital tailwinds powering huge revenue growth at the company. Specifically, the customer experience everywhere is increasingly becoming digital-focused, and a huge part of that experience is digital communication. Twilio provides those customer digital communication services. As such, more and more companies are adopting Twilio’s platform, and those companies are spending more and more each year on Twilio.
TWLO stock, though, has dropped nearly 30% over the past few months as investors have expressed valuation concerns with the company’s top-line growth trajectory slowing and gross margins retreating.
Will recent weakness last? For a little while longer, yes — mostly because TWLO stock is still very expensive relative to its long-term intrinsic growth potential. But, in the long run, near-term weakness will turn into long-term strength. Stocks go as profits go, and cloud communication tailwinds will power Twilio’s profits materially higher over the next several years.
Trailing 3-Year Gain: 379%
Percent Off 2019 Highs: 28%
One of the most underrated winning growth stocks in the market is digital education platform Chegg (NYSE:CHGG). In a nutshell, Chegg is bringing the digital, on-demand revolution to the education world, and in so doing, is becoming the American student’s favorite paid learning companion that provides writing help, step-by-step solutions, citation makers, textbooks and on-demand tutoring. Chegg’s subscriber base and revenues have soared over the past several years, as have profits. And CHGG stock is up nearly 400% over the past three years.
CHGG stock, though, has taken a step back in 2019. At present, shares trade about 30% off their 2019 highs, mostly because of some optical concerns (the college admissions cheating scandal has created unwanted publicity in this industry) and some valuation friction (CHGG stock was very richly valued in the summer).
Will CHGG stock continue to retreat or start taking steps forward again soon? I think the latter. Chegg is in the first few innings of a huge growth narrative wherein the on-demand education platform will be used broadly by every high school and college student in America, much like every household in America pays for on-demand entertainment. As Chegg continues to transform the education market over the next several years, revenues and profits will stay on a robust uptrend — and that will keep CHGG stock on a healthy uptrend, too.
The Trade Desk (TTD)
Trailing 3-Year Gain: 636%
Percent Off 2019 Highs: 25%
Over the past several years, automation has changed many industries. This includes the advertising industry, wherein automation, data and machine learning are being applied to automate and optimize various ad transaction and allocation processes. This automation process is called programmatic advertising, and The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD) has emerged as a leader in this field. As it has, and as more ad dollars have flowed into the programmatic advertising channel, a big chunk of those dollars have made their way into the TTD ecosystem. This has led to huge revenue, profit and share price gains for The Trade Desk.
But, not all has been smooth this year. TTD stock has shed essentially 25% over the past few months thanks to the threat of lower rates creeping higher and slowing global economic expansion concerns.
Both of those concerns seem overpriced into TTD stock today. The Trade Desk’s revenue growth rates have remained robust and resilient, the secular automation tailwinds remain vigorous, and the margin profile remains favorable. Plus, the valuation on TTD stock is now much more tangible than it was two months ago. The implication? Near-term weakness won’t last. It’s just a valuation reset. Soon enough, the valuation reset will end. When it does, TTD stock will get back to marching higher.
Trailing 3-Year Gain: 208%
Percent Off 2019 Highs: 34%
E-furniture retailer Wayfair (NYSE:W) has attempted to follow in the footsteps of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) with varying degrees of success over the past several years. That is, Wayfair is doing its best to dominate the niche e-furniture market — one of the last frontiers of the e-commerce wave — by rapidly expanding share and growing revenues at all costs. The plan? Eventually, revenues will get so big that even anemic margins will produce a big profit and result in a big valuation for W stock.
Investors have been buying into this idea for the past few years. Over the past three years, Wayfair stock is up more than 200%. But, investors have expressed hesitancy this year as margins still have yet to meaningfully improve. That’s why Wayfair stock is down nearly 35% over the past seven months.
What comes next in this wild roller coaster ride for Wayfair stock? More swings. Bulls will continue to drool over the big revenue growth rates. Bears will continue to be wary of the lack of margin progress. Until either the revenue growth trajectory flattens out or margins make meaningful progress higher, Wayfair stock will likely be defined by little more than huge swings both up and down.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long SHOP, CHGG, NFLX, TTD and AMZN.