Virtualization is a trend which, while powerful before, has gained significant momentum in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak across the globe.
The idea behind virtualization is simple. Take a physical process, and virtualize it so that consumers can do it from the comfort of their own homes.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the virtualization trend already had a ton of momentum. After the coronavirus outbreak, however, the trend has gained more momentum than ever before.
That’s because consumers don’t want to get sick, so they are staying at home. But, they still need to work, get healthcare check-ups, watch TV, shop, so on and so forth. As a result, consumer demand for virtualized work, healthcare, entertainment, and shopping platforms has surged since the outbreak.
Here’s my two cents on what happens next. The coronavirus outbreak, while big and scary, is overstated. Data shows that strict quarantining works in putting the outbreak to bed (see China and South Korea), mortality rates aren’t that much higher than the flu, and that this outbreak globally should be old news come summer.
During the outbreak, however, many consumers will shift to virtualized platforms. They’ll find out how great those platforms are. When the virus fades, they won’t ditch those platforms — instead, they’ll keep using them.
As both a near- and long-term play, I think buying virtualization stocks amid the coronavirus outbreak is a smart move. With that in mind, some of the top virtualization stocks to buy now include Teladoc (NYSE:TDOC), Zoom Video (NYSE:ZM), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Spotify (NYSE:SPOT), and Slack (NYSE:WORK).
Without further ado, then, let’s take a look at the five virtualization stocks to buy to give your portfolio a boost in these turbulent times.
First on this list of virtualization stocks to buy is virtualized healthcare platform Teladoc.
The story at Teladoc is simple. Telehealth has been a thing for a long time. But up until recently, major obstacles stunted telehealth from gaining mainstream traction. Those obstacles are now fading. Technology has improved to the point where telehealth appointments can deliver just as good outcomes as office-based visits. Laws have changed so that telehealth is now covered by most insurance plans. More physicians are starting to trust telehealth as an appropriate substitute for office-based visits.
Thanks to those catalysts, then, the telehealth market is finally coming into its own.
Leading the charge is Teladoc, the market’s only end-to-end virtualized healthcare platform which covers all varieties of acuity and care sites. Going forward, more consumers will lean into Teladoc’s services amid the coronavirus outbreak, because no one wants to go the hospital right now and risk getting sick. As they do, they will find out that Teladoc’s telehealth services are actually pretty good.
Many of those consumers may never go back to the doctor’s office and could become lifetime Teladoc users.
From this perspective, then, the coronavirus outbreak is a discrete catalyst which could produce significant, long-term tailwinds for Teladoc’s already red hot business.
Zoom Video (ZM)
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, social distancing is increasingly becoming a thing in many metro areas, with businesses telling their employees to work from home and universities conducting classes online.
That’s all great news for video conferencing company Zoom Video.
Zoom provides the type of services which those businesses and universities will need so long as their employees and students remain at home. Those services include video chatting, webinars, instant messaging tools, and more, so that employees can effectively communicate with one another and teachers can effectively teach students.
In the coming weeks to months, many universities and employees will more broadly deploy Zoom’s services. In so doing, they will find out that those services are quite good, and can be used on a regular, day-to-day basis. Even when the outbreak ends, Zoom should find itself with many more long-term customers.
In this sense, Zoom is actually winning because of the coronavirus outbreak. More than that, the company should keep winning for a lot longer, because video is the future of business communication.
Of course, the more consumers stay home, the more they will log onto their Netflix accounts and binge-watch Netflix shows and movies.
That’s great news for Netflix. Current subscribers watching more gives the company more viewing data. It also reduces churn. Both of those things are long-term wins.
The best news for Netflix is that the company now has a great opportunity to sign up new subscribers.
For example, let’s look at Italy. That whole country is on lock-down, meaning all 60 million consumers in the country are being told to stay in their homes as much as possible. Netflix only has 2 million subs in the country. So, 58 million consumers in Italy will be “locked inside” for the next few days and weeks … without Netflix.
That may not sound awful. But, it could be bad enough that a ton of Italian consumers decide to pay up for a Netflix subscription. They’ll watch some shows. They’ll like what they see. And within a few weeks, they will have turned into long-term Netflix customers.
The more Netflix can capitalize on this opportunity during the outbreak, the better the stock will fare both now and in future quarters.
When it comes to the coronavirus bull thesis for Spotify, it’s basically a repeat of the Netflix bull thesis.
The more consumers stay at home, the more they’ll listen to music through Spotify. That directly means more ad revenues for Spotify through its free platform. But, listeners on that platform may get tired of ads the more they listen to Spotify endlessly while stuck at home.
Some of them will put up with all the ads. Some will pay up for Netflix’s ad free service. Either way, Spotify wins.
In this sense, the coronavirus outbreak could actually be a good thing for both Spotify’s ad and ad-free businesses. Clearly, investors think so. Spotify stock is actually up in March, while broader markets are having their worst month in a long time.
I expect this dynamic to persist for the foreseeable future. I also expect it to live on long after the outbreak dies, because music streaming is a big business, and Spotify is the 400 pound gorilla in the market.
Last, but not least, on this of virtualization stocks to buy amid the coronavirus outbreak is enterprise communication platform Slack.
Like all the other companies on this list, Slack wins when consumers stay home. Specifically, Slack wins when businesses tell their employees to work from home. When that happens, digital communication between employees doesn’t just become more important — it becomes necessary.
The more companies tell their employees to work from home, the higher demand will go for Slack’s services. New businesses will sign up, desperately in need of a digital enterprise communication tool, while current customers will up their usage, desperately in need of more communication bandwidth.
Consequently, coronavirus creates a win-win situation for Slack. The company will get new revenue from new customers, and more revenue from current customers. That double tailwind makes WORK stock an attractive buy amid current market turbulence.
Luke Lango is a Markets Analyst for InvestorPlace. He has been professionally analyzing stocks for several years, previously working at various hedge funds and currently running his own investment fund in San Diego. A Caltech graduate, Luke has consistently been recognized as one of the world’s top stock pickers by various other analysts and platforms, and has developed a reputation for leveraging his technology background to identify growth stocks that deliver outstanding returns. Luke is also the founder of Fantastic, a social discovery company backed by an LA-based internet venture firm. As of this writing, Luke Lango did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.