Growth stocks are undeniably exciting by nature. The businesses underlying these investments often operate in early-stage markets with long runways to build their sales and profits. Or they might be companies that reimagine or disrupt an existing industry, finding novel ways to take market share, or drive incremental growth in the process.
But that doesn't mean it's easy to identify the market's very best growth stocks. So we asked three top Motley Fool contributors to each discuss a growth stock they think investors should love today. Read on to learn why they picked Universal Display (OLED 2.61%), Facebook (META 2.33%), and National Beverage (FIZZ 0.76%).
A bright idea for long-term investors
Steve Symington (Universal Display): Universal Display Corporation is one of my favorite growth stocks given its massive trove of more than 4,200 issued and pending OLED-related patents, as well as the central role its flagship technology is poised to play enabling a number of compelling high-growth industries.
That's not to say displays using OLED -- which stands for organic light-emitting diode -- haven't already experienced impressive growth. OLED is already found in millions of smartphones and tablets made by Samsung. So it should come as no surprise that affiliate Samsung Display was Universal Display's single largest customer last year, representing over 60% of total sales. In fact, when Samsung unveiled its newest Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones last month -- both of which featured enormous, stunning OLED displays using material purchased and IP licensed from UDC -- shares of Universal Display climbed more than 6% in a single day in response.
Yes, it's risky when a single customer drives such a large chunk of revenue. But that's quickly changing as OLED becomes more ubiquitous. Later this year, Apple is even expected to launch its first OLED iPhone coinciding with the 10-year anniversary of its most popular product line. And fellow Universal Display customer LG Display is pouring billions of dollars into expanding its production capabilities for OLED TVs -- an exciting prospect for tech junkies given the fact that OLED displays not only feature superior contrast and use less power than comparable LCDs, but also can be made flexible, paper thin, rollable, and even semi-transparent.
There's also the longer-term promise of OLED lighting, which, as I've argued before, is poised to usurp even today's power-sipping LED lights over the long term. Even with shares of Universal Display up nearly 50% over the past 12 months, I think patient investors still have time to enjoy the lion's share of its gains in the coming years.
There's a lot to like about Facebook
Keith Noonan (Facebook): Social-media leader Facebook has already grown to an impressive size, with its roughly $405 billion valuation making it the world's sixth-largest company by measure of market cap, but it still stands out as one of the best stocks for growth-focused investors. The internet giant is delivering stellar sales and earnings growth, and investments in emerging opportunities, like virtual reality, combined with the dominant positions enjoyed by its core products, suggest the company has tremendous growth potential.
Facebook is one of the two biggest forces in online advertising, the other being Alphabet's Google. Last year, the company saw ad revenues drive overall annual sales 54% higher, while operating income doubled. 2017 is expected to post slower growth for the company, but the average analyst estimate still calls for earnings per share (EPS) to increase roughly 26% this year.
Facebook is delivering stellar results by growing its user base, increasing engagement, and generating more revenue per user. Its namesake product is going strong, and offshoot businesses Instagram and WhatsApp are helping it build a multi-layered growth story.
Looking outside of the company's core social network and messaging products, it's true that its Oculus virtual reality unit has struggled recently -- with an unfavorable court decision and lackluster sales for its Rift headset casting a shadow over the fledgling business -- but the company still sees huge potential in the future of VR. The long-term play is that Facebook expects virtual reality will become an everyday-use technology, like mobile. If that turns out to be the case, it would likely open up another huge growth avenue for the company.
Growth in carbonated water
Travis Hoium (National Beverage): The hottest name in beverages right now is National Beverage, maker of La Croix flavored carbonated water. National Beverage's products have been hot, particularly in the last year, in part because of a consumer shift to healthier beverages. And since it's still in a can, La Croix is an easy replacement for traditional soda.
In the company's most recent quarter, revenue was up 20%, to $195 million, and net income more than doubled, to $24.3 million. You can see below that growth has shot up in the past year, and given the brand momentum, I think the growth phase is just beginning.
The great thing about National Beverage right now is that it has volume growth and pricing power. That's growing revenue, but also expanding margins and giving leverage to the bottom line, meaning net income will rise even faster than revenue.
Top-line growth is great, but if it can be paired with even faster bottom-line growth, that's a recipe for great stock performance long term. That's what makes National Beverage a great growth stock for investors.