For a brief moment in August and September 2019, value stocks finally started to outperform momentum stocks for the first time in several years. That is, during a stretch from late August to September, the iShares Value Factor ETF (BATS:VLUE) rose more than 10%, while the iShares Momentum Factor ETF (BATS:MTUM) fell flat.
This unusual divergence was the result of rapidly rising U.S. Treasury yields. Long story short, momentum stocks were being pushed higher by low interest rates, which were being pulled lower by Federal Reserve rate cuts and escalating U.S.-China trade tensions. But, in late August, trade tensions started to ease, the economic outlook started to improve and it looked like the Fed was going to pause its rate-cutting cycle. Interest rates surged higher, putting pressure on momentum stocks (for valuation reasons) but breathing life into value stocks (because higher rates usually mean a stronger economic outlook).
This trend has since ended. Yes, the economic outlook is still improving, the Fed is still on hold and trade tensions are still easing. But, despite all that, inflation remains stubbornly below 2%. So, Treasury yields have flat-lined since mid-September. As they have, value and momentum stocks have performed equally well, with both rising about 5%.
One way of looking at this dynamic is that value stocks are finally holding their own. The other view — which I feel is more appropriate — is that momentum stocks refuse to slow down. No matter what you throw at them — be it falling rates, rising rates, fast economic expansion, slow economic expansion — momentum stocks just keep running higher.
With this thought in mind, let’s take a closer look at seven momentum stocks which have fully embodied this “we won’t slowdown for anything” attitude.
Momentum Stocks to Watch: Shopify (SHOP)
Trailing 3-Year Return: 854%
Year-to-Date Return: 185%
E-commerce solutions provider Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has morphed into the poster child of unstoppable momentum stocks in the internet era, rising a whopping 854% over the past three years and 185% year-to-date on the back of internet-related tailwinds.
Shopify got to this point by turning into the backbone of digital commerce. In a nutshell, Shopify provides e-commerce tools so that any merchant, regardless of size or background, can succeed in the e-retail world. In essence, it has become a necessary tool for every merchant looking to sell online. Fortunately for Shopify, the entire commerce world has pivoted online over the past few years. As it has, retailers and merchants of all shapes and sizes have increasingly employed Shopify’s solutions to help them sell more effectively online. This rapid adoption uptake has led to huge sales growth at Shopify, at favorable gross margins, which has powered enormous gains in SHOP stock.
At present, only 11% of retail sales in the U.S. are transacted digitally. That’s a small number. Inevitably, it will move higher over time, meaning that the e-retail tailwinds which have propelled huge growth at Shopify won’t slow anytime soon. From this perspective, Shopify projects as a big grower for a lot longer. Just below a $400 price tag, a lot of that big growth is priced in … so much so that shares may need to take a temporary breather here.
But, in the long run, sustained big growth through e-retail expansion will keep SHOP stock on a winning path.
Trailing 3-Year Return: 404%
Year-to-Date Return: 35%
Connected learning platform operator Chegg (NYSE:CHGG) has taken digital world principles and applied them to the academic industry. In so doing, Chegg has turned into a momentum stock that is up almost five-fold over the past three years and nearly 40% year-to-date.
Chegg got here by doing something very simple — creating a learning platform that students have wanted for a long time. That is, high school and college students today are surrounded by digital, on-demand connected services which make their lives very easy. The academic world, though, did not offer any such digital, on-demand and connected service. So, Chegg created it, offering a suite of services like on-demand tutoring, e-textbooks and online courses, all on one connected learning platform. Students from across the nation have quickly bought into the Chegg ecosystem. As they have, Chegg’s revenues, profits and stock price have all marched higher.
The key numbers here are 3.1 million and 36 million. That first number is the number of Chegg subscribers today. The second number is the total number of high school and college students in the U.S. Thus, Chegg is tapping into less than 10% of its addressable market in the U.S. alone. Eventually, Chegg will expand internationally, too. So, the runway for further growth here is very big and very long.
In other words, Chegg won’t stop growing at a robust rate anytime soon. Sustained robust growth will continue to push CHGG stock higher.
The Trade Desk (TTD)
Trailing 3-Year Return: 720%
Year-to-Date Return: 126%
Programmatic ad tech leader The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD) has become an increasingly important player in the digital advertising world. As it has, TTD stock has turned into a monster growth stock, delivering a near 800% return over the past three years and a 126% return in 2019 alone.
The Trade Desk got here for three reasons. First, ad dollars have continued to chase engagement into the digital channel, and The Trade Desk provides demand-side services for digital advertisers. Second, the digital ad world has become increasingly programmatic, where the ad transaction process is becoming fully automated, and The Trade Desk is the leading demand-side platform (DSP) for programmatic ads. Third, the digital ad world is also becoming increasingly “open,” as big tech companies are being forced to open their walled gardens, thereby allowing third-party DSPs like The Trade Desk to earn a bigger share of the global digital ad pie. These three dynamics have together propelled tremendous revenue and profit growth at The Trade Desk, which has in turn powered huge gains for TTD stock.
All three of these favorable dynamics will remain in play for the foreseeable future. Ad dollars will continue to rush into the digital channel. Automated technologies will become more commonly used, and programmatic advertising will become the norm in the digital ad world. Open internet initiatives will gain traction, thereby allowing The Trade Desk to keep gaining share.
The three things which have propelled big growth at TTD over the past few years will similarly propel big growth for the next few years, too. Some of this big growth is priced into TTD stock. But not all of it. So TTD stock should keep marching higher in the medium to long term.
Trailing 3-Year Return: 580%
Year-to-Date Return: 84%
Cloud security solutions provider Okta (NASDAQ:OKTA) has taken a unique approach to cloud security. This unique approach has gained traction in the global enterprise world. As it has, OKTA stock has turned into an unstoppable momentum stock, including an 81% year-to-date surge.
The key to Okta’s success is that this company has built an optimal identity-based cloud security solution which doesn’t compromise on security, and yet optimizes mobility. Essentially, traditional cloud security solutions were like big protective castles surrounding an entire enterprise ecosystem. Much like castles, these solutions were safe, but didn’t allow for individual mobility (people had to stay within the castle). Okta solved this by getting rid of the castle, and outfitting each individual in the ecosystem with their own security armor. In so doing, Okta created an identity-based security solution which maintained high security standards, but also didn’t restrict mobility. Enterprises have fallen in love with this solution. As they have, Okta’s revenues, profits and stock price have all soared higher.
Okta’s core Identity Cloud platform will continue to gain traction in the 2020s. Powering the adoption uptake will be an increase in the number of connected devices in an enterprise ecosystem thanks to 5G and internet of things tailwinds, as well as higher usage of gig economy principles and remote work. In sum, these trends will make enterprise security mobility more important than ever, and this will turn more and more businesses into Okta customers.
As Okta’s customers, revenues and profits march higher over the next few years, OKTA stock will march higher, too.
Trailing 3-Year Return: 211%
Year-to-Date Return: 45%
Mega-capitalization creative solutions giant Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) has not let its increasing size slow its growth trajectory. Instead, Adobe has leveraged secular creative market tailwinds to sustain huge revenue and profit growth, the sum of which has driven a 211% gain in ADBE stock over the past three years and a 45% gain in 2019.
There are three big businesses at Adobe. All three have been firing on all cylinders. First, there’s the Creative Cloud business, which has grown by leaps and bounds due to a rise in creative content creation, distribution and consumption. Second, there’s the Document Cloud business, which has also grown rapidly due to the paper-to-digital shift happening everywhere. Third, there’s the Experience Cloud business, which has become a big player in the enterprise cloud market as visuals have become an increasingly important part of the customer experience. Big growth across all three of these verticals has propelled big gains in Adobe’s revenues, profits and stock price.
The creative market is really just getting started. Everywhere you look, creativity is becoming more and more important, and more and more widely deployed across various verticals. Because of this, Adobe finds itself at the epicenter of an ever-expanding creative solutions market. In this market, Adobe essentially has no competition, because it provides the best-in-class creative solutions in every major category.
Given this, it appears obvious that Adobe will sustain big and profitable growth for a lot longer. That big and profitable growth will keep ADBE stock on its long-term winning trajectory.
Trailing 3-Year Return: 181%
Year-to-Date Return: 42%
Big data analytics platform provider Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK) has turned into an unstoppable momentum stock thanks to its broad and robust exposure to artificial intelligence and data-related tailwinds, the sum of which have driven a 181% trailing three-year gain in SPLK stock (including a 44% year-to-date gain).
Splunk is all about converting data into everything, so much so that the company’s core product is called the Data-to-Everything platform. At a high level, what this platform does is what every business today needs to do, and that is turning the mountains of raw data at their fingertips into actionable insights which can improve the company’s research, product development, sales and marketing initiatives. Business have increasingly realized that they need to pivot towards a data-driven decision making framework over the past few years. As they have, Splunk’s customer base has rapidly expanded. Revenues and profits have soared. So has SPLK stock.
This growth narrative is just getting started. The volume of data globally is going to grow exponentially from here, as companies start deploying more data-tracking initiatives and as the number of data-tracking devices grows with IoT expansion. At the same time, our abilities to transform that data into actionable insights will similarly grow as machine learning and AI algorithms improve with time and practice. Consequently, we are at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to entering an era of data-driven decision making.
That’s great news for Splunk. The more companies pivot toward a data-decision making framework, the more they will pivot toward using Spunk’s Data-to-Everything platform. This will sustain huge revenue and profit growth at Splunk, which will in turn sustain big gains in SPLK stock.
Trailing 3-Year Return: 891%
Year-to-Date Return: 350%
The hottest momentum stock on this list is streaming device maker Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU), which has rode secular streaming TV adoption tailwinds to huge share price gains, including a near ten-fold increase from the stock’s September 2017 IPO price of $14 and a 350%-plus gain in 2019 alone.
The streaming TV world is booming. Everyone is going from watching linear TV to watching streaming TV. Amid this pivot, the streaming TV world is becoming increasingly complex. There’s a ton of supply and a ton of demand. Someone needs to organize the market and seamlessly connect all that supply to all that demand. Roku is that someone. It is increasingly transforming into the de facto “cable box” of the streaming world, providing a central, common and streamlined access point for consumers to watch their favorite streaming services. Because of this, Roku has sustained big user and engagement growth, which has propelled even bigger revenue growth as ad dollars have chased users into the Roku ecosystem.
All of this will continue over the next decade. More and more consumers globally will pivot into the streaming TV channel. Most of them will use the Roku OS to access their streaming services. Ad dollars will continue to chase those consumers into the Roku ecosystem.
Big picture, then, Roku will sustain big growth for a lot longer. That means ROKU stock is far from being done with its rally.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long SHOP, CHGG, TTD, OKTA and ADBE.