After suffering sharp sell-offs in their share prices, Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), Exelixis (NASDAQ:EXEL), and LogMeIn (NASDAQ:LOGM) have rekindled investor's optimism, and that's resulting in envy-inspiring returns. These companies have intriguing catalysts that are sparking growth, so let's learn more about them.  

Not selling just a bill of goods

Rich Duprey (Shopify): It might not be a case of zero to hero, because e-commerce platform provider Shopify was never that bad, but after soaring out of the gate from its 2015 IPO, its stock fell back almost to its offering price in early 2016. Since then, though, Shopify's stock has been on a tear, rising 174% over the past year, and it shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.

A young businessman staring at a computer monitor in surprise.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

The premise behind the company's business, which oddly enough started out as a site to sell snowboards, is to provide small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with a vehicle for establishing web-based and mobile storefronts. Because consumers expect to be able to transact anywhere, anytime, on any device, SMBs need a simple, seamless, and secure platform to sell their goods and services. That's what Shopify gives them.

At the end of 2016, the company had more than 377,500 merchants from approximately 175 countries using its platform, though the bulk of them, or 58% of the total, were from the U.S. That's up from almost 243,500 merchants from approximately 150 countries the year it went public, and more than four times as many as recently as 2013.

While some have criticized the company for its connection with former conservative media executive and current advisor to President Trump, Steve Bannon, the market has shrugged off the crass attempt at politicizing the company and focused instead on whether it's a top-shelf business. As its fourth-quarter earnings indicate, it still is, with revenues jumping 86% in the period to $130 million and gross merchandise volume nearly doubling. While Shopify continues to focus on scaling up its operations, that means it's putting profitability on the back burner for the moment. Operating losses widened to $9.3 million, and net losses to $10.2 million, but growing as it is, investors figure the profits will come in due time.

If at first you don't succeed...

Keith Speights (Exelixis): Back in 2012, drugmaker Exelixis won U.S. regulatory approval for cabozantinib in treating metastatic medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). The drug has generated sales of nearly $210 million since its launch in January 2013. In the two years following cabozantinib's initial commercialization (under the brand name Cometriq), Exelixis stock lost 70% of its value due to disappointing sales.

You couldn't blame anyone who might have been skeptical about Exelixis back then. The biotech's other primary hopes for success hinged on metastatic melanoma drug cobimetinib and the potential for cabozantinib in other indications.

As it turned out, cobimetinib ultimately won U.S. regulatory approval in November 2015. However, initial sales were so disappointing that Exelixis filed a demand for arbitration with its commercialization partner, Roche

Exelixis also experienced disappointment with cabozantinib. The drug proved to be ineffective in a late-stage study targeting treatment of prostate cancer. But it was a totally different story for cabozantinib in treating renal cell carcinoma (RCC), a type of kidney cancer.

In July 2015, Exelixis announced positive results from a late-stage study of the drug in treating RCC. The biotech submitted cabozantinib for U.S. regulatory approval in the indication less than six months later. That approval came in April 2016.

Exelixis marketed the drug under a different brand name, Cabometyx. Within seven months of its launch, Cabometyx had captured around 20% market share as a second-line treatment for kidney cancer and 35% as a third-line treatment. Additional clinical studies also showed tremendous promise for the drug as a first-line treatment of kidney cancer.

Between July 2015 and early 2017, Exelixis stock soared more than 500%. This one-time loser turned out to be one of the biggest biotech winners of the past year.

Sum is greater than the parts

Todd Campbell (LogMeIn): Worries over a slowdown in enterprise software caused LogMeIn's shares to fall from north of $70 in 2015 to about $40 in early 2016; however, a deal that landed it Citrix Systems' GoTo business and a bounce-back in enterprise software stocks have catapulted shares 97% higher since March 2016.

LogMeIn is a software-as-a-service solution that allows workers to access devices and collaborate together regardless of their location, and acquiring Citrix's GoTo solutions immediately transformed LogMeIn into a billion-dollar revenue cloud-software player.

The deal adds $630 million in trailing revenue to LogMeIn's top line, and it provides plenty of cross-selling opportunities for LogMeIn to deepen relationships with clients. The deal closed earlier this year, and if management delivers on its cost-savings projections, the bottom line will benefit by $100 million annually.

Last month, the company reported that fourth-quarter sales grew 15.7% year over year to $88 million. This year, management predicts that including GoTo will cause sales to jump to at least $1 billion, and that its net income will reach $190 million. If it can deliver on that forecast, this winner may still have room to climb higher.

Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. His clients may have positions in the companies mentioned. Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Exelixis and Shopify. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.