Well, that was quite the exciting turn of events. After months of steady gains, stocks have finally gone down. Last Thursday and Friday, the markets saw considerable profit-taking. The Nasdaq Composite in particular got whacked, with that tech-heavy index falling as much as 9% from peak to bottom last week.
For all we know, the selling will continue in the days to come. In any case, this is the time for traders to start loading up their watchlists with Nasdaq stocks to buy.
Why focus on Nasdaq stocks? Because that’s where the action has been ever since the novel coronavirus outbreak began shutting down the world. With people stuck at home, created an unprecedented move to put many things onto the internet. Healthcare, education and other essential services that remained largely in-person until now are rapidly migrating to virtual settings.
With the sector finally in a correction, it’s time to start loading up on these seven Nasdaq stocks to buy:
- Avalara (NASDAQ:AVLR)
- Duck Creek Technologies (NASDAQ:DCT)
- ZoomInfo (NASDAQ:ZI)
- Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO)
- Datadog (NASDAQ:DDOG)
- Costco (NASDAQ:COST)
- Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ)
While there will be some slowdown in this trend as the economy continues to reopen, 2020 has been a pivotal year for the tech industry.
7 Nasdaq Stocks You Need To Buy: Avalara (AVLR)
Avalara might not be a household name just yet, but given how things are going, it will be soon. Avalara offers tax compliance software for e-commerce, with an emphasis on smaller businesses.
One of the biggest headaches for online merchants is selling products across state and international lines, as each jurisdiction has different rules about what is taxed or tax-exempt, and how much to levy on each product. Avalara is designed to solve that problem. It also addresses corner cases such as beer and liquor sales, where a whole different set of tax rules apply.
For many quarters, Avalara was riding a 2018 Supreme Court decision that made it far easier for states to collect taxes online. Businesses had to spend on software to get their systems ready before states started penalizing firms that didn’t comply.
However, things have accelerated to a whole new level in 2020. As you probably know, companies like Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) and Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY) have exploded in popularity this year. With folks stuck at home, all sorts of new businesses are emerging in various e-commerce niches. And those new entrepreneurs end up having to pay sales tax, just like everyone else.
Avalara is built right into Shopify, and thus is positioned to ride along as Shopify soars. AVLR stock is up nicely this year, but it’s not up anywhere as much as Etsy or Shopify … yet.
Duck Creek Technologies (DCT)
Take that same basic idea as Avalara, but apply it to insurance instead of sales tax, and voila! You now have Duck Creek Technologies.
The company is probably unfamiliar to most readers, as it just launched its initial public offering (IPO) last month. However, with more than $200 million in annual revenue, Duck Creek is already a decent-size business.
Now, Duck Creek Technologies isn’t a screaming value stock at this price, I’ll grant you that. 22 times sales isn’t a great multiple by any means. However, revenue growth is in the mid-20 percent range and has been accelerating nicely in recent quarters.
The company is transitioning from one-time sales to subscription revenues; that’s a tried and true method to strong earnings growth in the software space. And the company is already solidly cash flow positive, and not far from achieving profitability either.
Additionally, shares have come down nicely since the recent tech sell-off. In fact, DCT stock hit its lowest point in its brief trading history last Friday, as shares dipped to $37, well off the recent $44 peak. The stock IPO’d at $27, so it’s not all that far above the original offer price, either.
I love these software-as-a-service stocks with big niches and long growth runways. Global insurance is a huge market, and one where a software company should be able to build a large moat to keep out the competition.
ZoomInfo is an enterprise software-as-a-service company targeting the information and marketing verticals. I covered the stock back in June, saying it offered significant promise. However, as is usually the case around fresh IPOs, there were concerns about the valuation.
In this case, it’s well worth revisiting ZI stock now. Shares are down 50% from their post-IPO peak, and just hit their lowest levels ever in last week’s tech sell-off. If you thought ZoomInfo was interesting at $50, it could be quite the steal down here at $33.
That’s because while the market will always be volatile day-to-day, the demand for key data isn’t going anywhere. As marketing goes digital, ZoomInfo’s databases of sales and contact information will only become more valuable to advertisers and sales representatives. The company demonstrated that in its most recent quarterly results, with revenues up 62%.
The tech sell-off is creating a big opportunity to enter stocks like ZoomInfo at their lowest levels of the summer. If you’re bullish on the tech space into 2021, these sorts of plays should pay off nicely in coming months.
While there are a few expensive stocks on this list, Cisco should appeal to value fans. That’s right, even in 2020, there are some cheap Nasdaq stocks to buy out there. CSCO is selling at just 13x forward earnings. It’s also one of the few tech names selling closer to 52-week lows than 52-week highs.
Some of that pessimism may be justified. A lot of networking gear orders that would have happened this year have been delayed into 2021 thanks to the pandemic slashing budgets. Hardware sales have suffered in comparison to cloud services that can often be sold without in-person contact.
Still, the long-term need for new and upgraded networking equipment isn’t going anywhere. Meanwhile Cisco’s transition toward subscriptions and recurring revenues continues at a respectable speed.
We’ve seen plenty of other tech stocks blast off once the market realizes that the quality of revenues has gone up. If and when Cisco demonstrates a similar move to a stickier sales model, it could enjoy a similar boost.
In the meantime, CSCO stock is cheap and offers a juicy 3.5% dividend yield.
Cisco was a player in our next pick as well. When Datadog was launching its IPO last year, Cisco reportedly offered $7 billion to acquire the company. Instead, the data and security monitoring company chose to go it alone, in a decision that has been exceedingly profitable for its shareholders. The pandemic has only intensified the secular trend toward storing everything in the cloud, and thus, intensified the need for robust security and monitoring of said infrastructure.
Datadog has fetched a huge multiple from the market, as it now trades for around 50 times revenue. The market cap is now up to $24 billion, leaving Cisco’s offer in the dust.
Still, for investors that are taking the long view toward cloud stocks, there’s a play in DDOG stock here. Since July, shares have slid 20%, making the price more palatable. While Datadog is still highly valued, it may well be worth the sticker price given the 68% revenue growth rate and 106% earnings growth.
While the Nasdaq is known for technology companies, you can find a variety of other attractive businesses on the exchange as well. Take Costco, for example.
Even before the novel coronavirus, Costco was on a roll. And this year, it’s gone on to even greater heights.
You probably don’t need me to tell you, but the pandemic has obviously boosted Costco’s standing in the world of retail. With so many businesses shut down, essential stores became a lifeline for worried consumers looking to stockpile before hunkering down at home. Costco’s no-frills, buy-in-bulk approach perfectly met the needs of the crisis. Going forward, the company’s already higher membership renewal rates should move up even more.
The obvious gripe with COST stock is that it’s expensive, as it currently sells at 36 times earnings. But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that analysts may be missing the inflection point here.
Consider this: Over the past five years, Costco grew earnings at 11% per year. Now, going forward, analysts only see 6% annual growth over the next five years.
But does it really seem likely that Costco’s earnings growth will slump after it proved itself so adept during the recent crisis? I’d bet that analysts will have to raise their price targets and earnings outlook as Costco’s dominance of big box retail only further consolidates.
An obvious choice to round out a list of Nasdaq stocks to buy is the Nasdaq stock exchange itself. If you’re bullish on innovative companies such as those listed above, then it only makes sense to own shares in the company facilitating all this trading.
The Nasdaq is riding several powerful waves right now. Higher share prices and trading volumes push up the amount of fees and revenues that the exchange can bring in. Its data sales division — which is an increasingly important part of the overall mix — also benefits from a rising tide. More hedge funds and traders are willing to pay for proprietary information in a volatile fast-moving market like this one.
There are also corporate actions as well. The Nasdaq earns money every time a new company launches an IPO, a secondary stock offering or other such corporate actions. It also offers services and software that serve to aid its other lines of business. All-in-all, NDAQ stock has many ways to grow, and most of them benefit from the current bull market for tech stocks.
Meanwhile, Nasdaq is selling at just 22 times forward earnings. That’s pretty incredible for a business that has grown earnings at 14%/year in recent years. In Nasdaq, you can benefit from the hyper-growth in the digital economy without paying a nosebleed price.
On the date of publication, Ian Bezek held long positions in NDAQ, AVLR stock.
Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.