Few companies have had the transformative impact on the economy that Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) has. From humble roots as an online bookseller to today's behemoth that has its hands in everything from e-commerce to artificial intelligence, business services, logistics, movie content creation, and more, Amazon is changing the way people interact with each other and the world around them.
We asked three top Motley Fool contributors to identify a stock they believe has capabilities to be the next Amazon. Read on to find out why they think Shopify (SHOP 0.60%), Mercadolibre (MELI 1.01%), and Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 0.53%) fit the bill.
Daniel Miller (Shopify): If investors are looking for a young growth stock that's changing the world of retail transactions, similar to Amazon way back when, it would be a travesty ignore Shopify, a leading cloud-based, multichannel commerce platform designed to let its clients manage their sales seamlessly through the web, mobile, social media, brick-and-mortar locations, and other outlets.
Long story short: If you want to sell products anywhere, anytime, Shopify makes it happen behind the scenes. It charges different amounts for its services, enabling medium and large clients to scale up as their needs require more comprehensive solutions. It provides its e-commerce solutions to over 400,000 businesses in over 175 countries and has generated mind-boggling top-line growth. During the first quarter it posted a 75% increase in total revenue, to $127.4 million.
Shopify's stock price is soaring even though the company isn't profitable. Still, Shopify's future appears incredibly bright. The company has a number of products under development, including a point-of-sale card reader, the first piece of hardware designed in-house by the company. It's also developing Shopify Pay, which will enable its clients' customers to save their shipping and credit card information for future purchases.
Shopify has enormous potential, but that's going to bring in serious competitors. As the company hasn't yet turned a profit, investors can expect volatility in the stock price. On the bright side, it has extremely valuable and effective services, a pipeline of products, and no debt on the balance sheet, and is one of the few stocks with the potential to be the next Amazon.
Riding the e-commerce wave in the Southern Hemisphere
Matt DiLallo (Mercadolibre): While many call Mercadolibre the "eBay of Latin America," its growth trajectory and potential seems very Amazon-like to me. During the recently completed first quarter, for example, the company reported a 74% surge in revenue, which blew past the lofty expectations that sales would climb 57%. Earnings, unsurprisingly, jumped as well, growing 60% to $48.5 million, or $1.10 per share, well ahead of the consensus estimate. That's just a continuation of the company's torrid growth, which has come despite a nasty recession in its key market of Brazil.
One of the more recent drivers of its growth has been the shift from auction-based sales to fixed-price merchant sales, which is more like Amazon. That's driving some impressive growth in the volumes transacted on its platform. For example, items sold jumped 39% versus the year-ago period to 53.2 million. Meanwhile, as more sellers join the network, sales should continue climbing and take the company's profits up with them.
In addition to the growing number of vendors, Mercadolibre continues to expand its user base, which is up 20% over the past year to 182 million. One thing that's worth noting about that number is that the population of Latin American is more than three times the company's current user base. That suggests it has ample running room to continue growing as more people start going online and begin transacting on the company's platform.
Needless to say, while Mercadolibre has enjoyed impressive growth over the past few years, it is only just starting to scratch the surface of its potential.
Surgical precision on growth
Rich Duprey (Intuitive Surgical): Intuitive Surgical's robotics system enables doctors to more easily and precisely perform complex surgical procedures, advancing the way the medical profession thinks about technological developments in the operating room as it permits performing a growing variety of minimally invasive surgeries, including hysterectomies, sacrocolpopexy (treatment for prolapse of a pelvic organ), hernia repair, colorectal procedures, and gallbladder removal.
Like Amazon, the company has come a long way from its original foundations, which in its case consisted of providing simple laparoscopic surgery. Its robotic systems are used in thoracoscopic (chest) surgery, cardiac procedures performed with adjunctive incisions, as well as urologic, gynecologic, pediatric, and transoral otolaryngology procedures. The expanding applications of the surgical tool put the company on a trajectory similar to Amazon's transformation from an online bookstore to a place where shoppers can find almost anything.
Intuitive Surgical's procedure growth jumped 18% in the first quarter from the year-ago period, outpacing not only Wall Street's expectations, but also its own projections, while hospitals may be waiting for it to launch its new machine, the da Vinci Xi, before making additional purchases.
But it's not just the sales of machines that drive Intuitive Surgical: Consumables make up more than three-quarters of its revenue. In the future, the company could implement advances such as making outpatient surgeries possible and adding remote sensory capabilities.
Even though Intuitive Surgical is the dominant force in the field of robotic surgery right now, it's expected that new competition will enter the field, potentially dulling its sharp leadership position. Yet low barriers to entry in bookselling and other areas of e-commerce did not prevent Amazon from burying its rivals and upending all of retail, and it's quite possible Intuitive Surgical can do the same in robotics and beyond.