It’s been the worst year for growth stocks since the great financial crisis of 2008. While 2021 saw big selloffs in weaker companies, 2022 has seen nearly universal selling across the growth stock sector.
Many investors are understandably throwing in the towel on growth stocks. After such a bad run, people are rightly questioning many of the grand narratives that drove the previous bull market in the technology sector. On top of that, tailwinds associated with heightened digital adoption during the pandemic have reversed. Now, layoffs and cutbacks are the order of the day across Silicon Valley.
However, it’s not all bad news.
In fact, for patient investors, the current chaos represents an opportunity. After seeing growth stocks soar last year, valuations have come back down to earth. The strongest growth stocks can consolidate during this down cycle and come out stronger. Astute investors can capitalize with these seven leading companies going forward.
Big software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have become the latest victims of the ongoing selloff in tech stocks. Shares of leading graphics design company Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) plummeted following its surprising and expensive acquisition of design firm Figma. Adobe’s plunge has set off a fresh round of selling in other leading SaaS giants like Salesforce (NYSE:CRM).
However, Adobe’s problems don’t apply to CRM stock. Salesforce has used more discipline in its big acquisitions; for example, Salesforce paid a reasonable price in acquiring workplace collaboration platform Slack. That Slack purchase was part of Salesforce’s gradual shift from just being a CRM company to one offering a far broader workplace solutions platform.
Salesforce has had one of the longest streaks of 20% annualized revenue growth on record among large-cap technology companies. The core product is also a sticky one; once enterprises put their key data into Salesforce, it usually stays there. CRM stock is now at 32 times this year’s estimated earnings and 28 times projected 2023 earnings, which is one of the better entry points we’ve seen for Salesforce historically.
For awhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) appeared to be immune to the broader market selloff. However, even MSFT stock has now gotten dragged into the mess.
MSFT stock has now fallen 15% over the past six months. Microsoft’s cash cow continues to be its dominant position with Windows and Office. However, the Azure cloud computing business has revolutionized Microsoft’s outlook. Azure is already producing more than $40 billion per year in revenues and is still growing at more than 40% per year. It’s simply breathtaking success for a company of Microsoft’s size and age.
Right now, Microsoft is selling off on fears that Azure will slow down as its clients pull back on spending. That’s a valid concern. But Microsoft is a cash flow machine. It’s also selling for less than 25 times forward earnings now and earnings are still growing at a double-digit rate. Long story short, Microsoft is still a reliable blue-chip growth stock, and it’s now at its best entry point so far in 2022.
Shares of credit card giant Visa (NYSE:V) are also back near 52-week lows as V stock has slipped below the $200 mark. Traders appear to be selling off Visa shares again due to the macroeconomic environment.
In theory, a slowing economy should hurt commerce and slow down velocity on credit card payments. The strong recovery in international tourism — which is vital to Visa’s profit margins — may also slow given mounting inflation and various geopolitical uncertainties this year.
However, the negativity is getting out of hand. Visa doesn’t take credit risk; instead, its partner banks are on the hook for any non-payments. Visa gets paid a small cut of every transaction rather than lending money itself. And, it should be noted, with inflation soaring, overall transaction sizes are getting larger and larger, which means Visa’s revenues scale up naturally.
There’s also a strong valuation appeal to V stock at today’s prices. In recent years, Visa has often traded around 35 times earnings or at even higher multiples. Now it is selling for less than 27 times forward. Throw in Visa’s earnings growth rate off that discounted starting valuation, and investors should enjoy fantastic returns from this entry point.
Snowflake was one of the market’s most anticipated initial public offerings (IPOs) when its shares debuted in 2020. The company has been growing at an exponential rate in recent years. And it is headed by legendary tech CEO Frank Slootman. All the pieces were there for success. Except for valuation.
SNOW stock opened trading at $240 and made it up to $400 not long after. That briefly put shares at nearly 100x trailing revenues. Regardless of how great a business may be, it’s a gamble to buy a company at such a high starting ratio.
Now, however, valuation has fallen into place. With SNOW stock under $200 per share, the market capitalization has fallen back to a more reasonable $60 billion. That’s roughly 30x revenues based on the estimated $2 billion of revenues for the current fiscal year. Meanwhile, revenues are still growing at around 50% per year, which is one of the fastest growth rates for a large-cap tech company.
The issue with Snowflake was never business quality, but merely overvaluation. And now, after the tech bear market, SNOW stock is much more appropriately priced. This makes it one of the best growth stocks to buy now.
Datadog is a leading provider of monitoring and security services for cloud applications. The service operates across apps, networks, databases, code, workflow, servers and many other locations. In all, Datadog aims to give its customers an all-in-one platform that works everywhere instead of being confined to certain use case silos.
Datadog’s platform has been incredibly successful in terms of driving adoption. The company had just $101 million of revenues in 2017. By the end of 2021, it had grown to $1 billion, making for a quick tenfold jump. Analysts see the company’s revenues surging to $2.2 billion for full-year 2023.
Unlike many SaaS companies, Datadog has achieved bottom line financial results to complement the top-line growth. It has, for example, put up a 26% free cash flow margin over the past 12 months. The company, while not tremendously profitable, does also consistently earn positive earnings per share which puts it ahead of many rivals. Datadog’s $1.6 billion of cash on hand also ensures that the company won’t need to raise money during these trying market conditions.
For a pure fast growth play, Datadog looks like one of the eventual winners once sentiment recovers.
Streaming media stocks have gotten hammered over the past 12 months. Video streaming has gone from boom to bust as subscriber numbers roll over. Turns out, as the economy has reopened, demand for home entertainment has cooled. Unfortunately, this fall has hit music as well, with Spotify Technology (NYSE:SPOT) losing the majority of its value over the past year.
Unlike video, however, Spotify doesn’t have nearly as existential of a crisis. The competition for the television screen is brutal with a seemingly unending stream of new services undercutting Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Spotify, by contrast, is far and away the market leader in music and has a dominant position, especially in international markets.
Spotify still has its issues. It pays out too much in royalties to record labels, which limits profitability. Over time, Spotify should be able to negotiate better royalties, but the market won’t believe it until it actually happens. And so-called streaming fatigue is a factor as well as demand for subscription services has waned following the pandemic.
Regardless, Spotify is the clear leader in music, and the market will grow substantially in the long term. Patient investors are getting a solid entry point today.
Texas Instruments (TXN)
Texas Instruments is a leader in the semiconductor industry. Specifically, it focuses on analog semiconductors, which are used in a variety of ways to convert real-world inputs such as wind speed or temperature into digital data, along with applications in fields such as audio and power systems.
Analog is a great market, since it is more stable and slower-moving than other semiconductor fields. Texas Instruments can sell many of its designs for a decade or more, as opposed to semis for categories such as smartphones where the market changes radically every few years.
Texas Instruments is in the sweet spot right now. Analog chips are vital for connected cars, internet of things applications, and other such niches with strong growth trajectories. Management’s focus on maximizing its free cash flow and hiking its dividend have proven shareholder-friendly during a time when so many other tech companies have failed to protect investors. All this makes TXN stock a great growth stock to own even as markets remain chaotic.
On the date of publication, Ian Bezek held a long position in SPOT, TXN, V and CRM stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.