It’s been the worst year for Nasdaq stocks since the great financial crisis of 2008. While 2021 saw big sell-offs in weaker and more speculative companies, 2022 has seen nearly universal selling across the Nasdaq as investors abandon growth stocks.
Many investors are understandably throwing in the towel on Nasdaq 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 long since 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 Nasdaq stocks soar to stratospheric levels last year, valuations have come back down to earth. Not all the growth stocks that have crashed will recover. Many firms had questionable business models or poor unit economics. There was a lot of speculative froth. However, the strongest growth stocks can consolidate during this down cycle and come out stronger. Astute investors can capitalize with these seven leading Nasdaq companies going forward.
Big software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have become the latest victim of the ongoing selloff in technology stocks. Shares of leading graphics design company Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) plummeted last month 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 including graphics peer Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK).
However, Adobe’s problems don’t apply to ADSK stock. Autodesk’s usage base is much more tilted toward industrial, manufacturing, and infrastructure purposes. While Adobe is a creative platform widely used in media, video creation and the like, this is one of the top Nasdaq stocks to buy in terms of stability. Autodesk is much more clearly linked to less-volatile fields like vehicle design, factory management, and construction.
As a result, Autodesk probably won’t need to make the same sort of splashy acquisitions that Adobe apparently views as essential. Meanwhile, Autodesk has already firmly crossed into strongly profitable territory. Shares sell for just 30 times forward earnings with analysts estimating 31% earnings per share growth in 2023. That’s a fine entry point.
For awhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) appeared to be immune to the broader market sell-off. However, even MSFT stock has now gotten dragged into the mess.
MSFT stock has now fallen 20% over the past six months and slipped to new 52-week lows at the end of September. Microsoft’s cash cow continues to be its dominant position with Windows and Office. However, the company’s 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 option, and it’s now at its best entry point so far in 2022.
Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX) is a software company focused on human resources services. The company helps firms with things such as payroll, as the name would suggest, along with benefits, insurance, and compliance.
PAYX stock has slumped in part with the broader market and perhaps on concerns of a slowdown in the economy. However, investors should be aware that employment remains exceptionally strong; the U.S. unemployment rate is still at just 3.5%. This is well below the historical median. Demand for labor is also strong, and a quarter or two of weak economic output won’t change the country’s unusually strong outlook for employment too much.
Paychex shares have dropped from $140 to around $110 over the past month or so. In doing so, the stock has fallen to near its 52-week-low. At this price, Paychex offers a 2.8% dividend yield on top of its consistent earnings growth record.
Zoom Video (ZM)
Zoom Video (NASDAQ:ZM) was one of the market’s hottest stocks in 2020. The video communications leader surged from around $70 a share to more than $500 during the pandemic. The company’s potential seemed limitless as companies, schools, and universities signed up for paid Zoom calls at a record clip.
But now, the tide has entirely turned. Zoom stock fell back to $180 by the end of 2021 as the surge in demand faltered. And in 2022, things went from bad to worse; ZM stock has plunged from $180 to just $78 today. Now, it’s as if the 2020 boom never happened at all; shares are only marginally above their pre-Covid levels.
The thing is, a lot of Zoom’s new customers have stuck around. The company is actually quite profitable today. Analysts see the company earning $3.72 per share this year, which puts the company at less than 21-times forward earnings.
The issue is that earnings are expected to be roughly flat into 2024 as the company deals with customer churn and slowing demand following the unprecedented demand in 2020 and 2021. However, the company’s earnings are strong enough here to support ZM stock at this price, and growth should return in due time once the economy picks back up. The move toward remote work has leveled off for now, but the longer-term trajectory remains upward for Zoom and video conferencing.
Datadog (NASDAQ:DDOG) 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-to-date in terms of driving adoption. The company had just $101 million of revenues in 2017. By the end of 2021, it had grown to $1.0 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 $1.7 billion of cash on hand also ensure that the company won’t need to raise money during these trying market conditions. For those seeking a pure hyper-growth play, Datadog looks like one of the eventual winners once sentiment recovers.
In addition to most Nasdaq stocks, streaming media stocks have gotten absolutely 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. The competition for the television screen is brutal with a seemingly unending stream of new services undercutting Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
It’s easy to paint the bear case for NFLX stock. However, people are throwing in the towel on the streaming giant too quickly. A look to past experience clarifies this. Doubters believed Netflix was collapsing in 2011 during its Qwikster debacle. That was when Netflix wanted to keep its DVD-by-mail service going through a subsidiary. Ultimately, the company was forced to reverse course, and critics believed taking the leap to a streaming-only model would crush the firm’s economics.
NFLX stock plunged more than 75% peak-to-trough during the 2011 business model crisis. That said, Netflix ultimately recovered and people buying during the panic saw shares go up as much as 50-fold over the next decade.
We’re seeing a similar slump in Netflix now as people question whether the company will ever be able to dominate its industry. But let’s consider some facts. The company is set to make more than $10/share in earnings this year. That’s a large number, and adds up to a P/E ratio of just 24. Hardly a disaster. And the company is generating $30 billion a year in subscriber revenues today. That’s plenty to be a highly successful business. Would it be great if Netflix can promptly return to subscriber growth? Of course. But at this price, Netflix stockholders can do just fine even if the business serves up flat results for another year or two.
Texas Instruments (TXN)
Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) is a leader in the semiconductor industry and one of the top Nasdaq stocks on many investors’ radar. This company 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 TXN stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.