If you're looking for companies with hyper-growth trajectories similar to the e-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN -2.30%), our Foolish contributors think these five stocks should be on your radar right now. Read on to find out which growth stocks they recommend, and why.
This growth stock is "royalty" within the biotech industry
Sean Williams: E-commerce and cloud giant Amazon is slated to grow its EPS by more than 1,700% through 2019, so finding companies with that type of growth potential leaves slim pickings. However, one company that could (eventually) give even Amazon a run for its money is biotech Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND 1.59%).
Ligand isn't a traditional drug developer per se. Instead of taking drugs from the discovery stage in the lab and walking them through clinical trials over the course of five to 10 years, Ligand chooses to acquire or develop patentable assets that earn the company royalties on the net sales of drugs containing those technologies. Perhaps the best-known of these assets is Ligand's Captisol technology, which helps with the stability and solubility of certain medications, including multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis.
The beauty of Ligand's business is twofold. First, because it's predominantly focused on acquiring royalty assets, it has very minimal overhead costs. Remember, Ligand doesn't have to spend millions of dollars running clinical trials, or employing hundreds of employees, to do research. This means Ligand is capable of producing healthy profits with relatively low sales figures. According to Ligand, its average royalty amounts to between 3.5% and 4.5% of the net sales of the products that its technology is a part of.
The second aspect of Ligand's business that should allow for ample success is the vast array of developing drugs containing one of its royalty assets. As of 2008, just nine products in development were using one of Ligand's royalty assets, and just one drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration using Ligand's technology. As of 2016, more than 150 developing drugs are using Ligand's technology, with 13 FDA-approved therapies generating revenue for the company. Presumably, a portfolio of 150+ drugs gives Ligand plenty of opportunity to "hit a home run," so to speak.
After generating $71.9 million in sales in 2015, Wall Street's forecasts have Ligand pegged for $265 million in sales by 2019, with close to $10 in EPS. That would represent a nearly tenfold increase from what Ligand reported in full-year EPS in 2013.
If you're looking for rapid growth, Ligand could be your answer.
A company with the wind at its back
Brian Feroldi: Few companies can come close to matching Amazon's massive long-term revenue and profit growth potential, but one company that I think could be up to the task is the payment-processing giant Mastercard (MA -2.42%).
Mastercard has been helping banks issue co-branded debit and credit cards for decades, and there are currently more than 2.3 billion cards in circulation that carry the company's logos. However, you might be shocked to learn that the lion's share of global transactions -- roughly 85% -- still occur using plain old cash or checks.
I'm a firm believer that consumers and merchants around the world will favor electronic payment methods over time, once the infrastructure is in place and they learn to trust it. That should be a boon to MasterCard's business over the long term. After all, credit and debit cards tend to be far more convenient to use, and they offer security features that cash and checks simply can't touch. Plus, the last time I checked, you couldn't buy something online by simply waving cash in front of your computer, so the continued growth of e-commerce sales should also spur adoption of the company's products.
Overall, I think Mastercard is capable of growing its share of total global transactions for decades to come, which should easily translate into above-average growth on the top line. When you mix in continued margin expansion, acquisitions, and a healthy share-repurchase program, MasterCard likely will continue to show double-digit net income growth for the foreseeable future.
Investing in the future with robotics
Steve Symington: Companies with Amazon-esque growth potential are obviously rare. But it helps if they're not only still small -- so they can more easily grow from a manageable base -- but also operate in industries with the potential to disrupt the way we currently do things.
One company I'm convinced fits that bill is iRobot Corporation (IRBT 2.39%), most popularly known for its Roomba line of robotic vacuums. iRobot is still firmly in small-cap territory with its market capitalization just north of $1 billion, and is working hard to position itself well in the burgeoning robotics space.
To be fair, iRobot has already sold over 14 million robots since it was founded in 1990. And though it offers a range of products including its newer Braava floor-mopping bots, Looj gutter-cleaning bots, and Mirra pool-cleaning bots, the majority of units sold so far have been Roombas. But that's also not a bad thing. In iRobot's most-recent quarter, domestic home robot sales climbed an impressive 27.4% year over year, driven by demand for the high-end, WiFi-enabled Roomba 980 model.
What's more, iRobot CEO Colin Angle has previously stated that robot vacuum cleaner revenue (not units sold, mind you) already accounts for roughly 15% of all vacuum cleaner sales, and further teased that it's "comparable to the level of other disruptive household appliances, such as the microwave oven and dishwasher, at the same stage of their lifecycles, 10 to 15 years following introduction."
Finally, looking forward, iRobot recently opened a new office and team in Shanghai, China, where sales grew over 70% year over year in 2015. There, it has begun executing a more direct e-commerce strategy to capitalize on the country's growing middle class, and is preparing to release the affordable new Braava jet model in Q3 to appease demand, given predominantly hard-floor surfaces in the region. Over the longer term, we can also look forward to iRobot expanding its presence outdoors as it's in the early stages of developing a differentiated robotic lawn mower solution.
If all goes well, the iRobot we know today will only continue to expand its presence and play a central role as robotics inevitably becomes more ubiquitous.
This newly minted commercial-stage biotech is gearing up for jaw-dropping profits
George Budwell: After a drama-filled and unexpected FDA approval of Sarepta Therapeutics' (SRPT -0.86%) Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD, drug Exondys 51, the company is now turning its attention to getting the drug on the market. Although this news is only a few days old and Sarepta literally just announced an annual price tag of $300,000 for Exondys 51, the Street already has the biotech's top line growing by a stunning 1,426% over the next 16 months.
Is this monstrous top-line forecast feasible? I think so.
The key issue to understand is that the DMD community is well aware of Exondys 51's existence, and even advocated vigorously for its approval. As a result, this drug shouldn't take long to capture a significant chunk of its target market that's composed of roughly 13% of all DMD patients. What this means is that Exondys 51 should enjoy peak sales of approximately $500 million in the U.S., and this figure could climb to nearly $850 million if Sarepta is able to grab additional approvals in key markets such as the EU.
A tiny chain with huge potential
Jason Hall: Chuy's Holdings Inc (CHUY 4.40%) definitely meets the criteria for Amazon-like growth potential. Through last quarter, the small sit-down Mexican restaurant chain had 75 total locations, making it a mere speck on a national scale.
So what makes Chuy's unique? How does it stand out in a veritable salsa sea of alternatives? A couple of things.
To start, it's a sit-down, full-service casual Mexican restaurant with prices much closer to what you'd pay at a fast-casual eatery. Of the 50 items on a Chuy's menu, 40 of them cost less than $10, while still offering a full-service experience, including margaritas, beer, and a number of other "signature" drinks at affordable prices, as well as a full kid's menu.
Despite the low-cost strategy, Chuy's financial performance and restaurant-level fundamentals are quite strong. The average Chuy's generates $4.7 million in annual revenue, one of the best sales results in the full-service Mexican restaurant segment and similar in performance to other large casual chains with much higher average check prices. Chuy's also steadily delivers some of the best margins in the casual and fast-casual segment, while the balance sheet remains strong, with no debt and strong cash flows that fund restaurant growth.
Put it all together, and Chuy's is a great, affordable restaurant that people love, has huge potential to expand, and excellent financial performance. Looking out a decade and more, Chuy's definitely has Amazon-like growth potential.